There is now a new page titled “KZN Birds Magazine” on our website. This page has the July edition available and will have all future KZN Birds magazines posted here. Click on the appropriate issue you wish to read and it will appear in a new Tab.
The venue for the September Sunday outing was Umdoni Park down on the south coast. There are numerous trails to follow, and a nice new feature of the park is the clearly illustrated trail maps located at trail intersections.
It was an early morning start with great rewards for the early birders assembled at the Environmental Centre. The first treat for the morning was a very obliging Brown Scrub Robin that happily scratched around in the undergrowth just a few meters away from us.
The photogs among us were snapping away hoping for some good pics in the low light conditions when a call went out of a Narina Trogon calling from a short distance away. A beautiful male was soon located and stunning views were had by all (except a few latecomers) as he perched on a branch out in the open.
The group of seventeen avid birders then assembled on the fringe of the 17th green which is fronted by a few trees. One, a Weeping Boerbean was in full flower which attracted a number of birds including Grey, Collared and Amethyst Sunbirds, Cape White-eyes and a Red-faced Mousebird.
From there we proceeded towards the cottages, and down through the forest to Molly’s Road. En route we picked up Purple-crested and Knysna Turaco, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Black-bellied Starling, African Paradise Flycatcher, and Square-tailed Drongo.
We continued up Molly’s Road picking up numerous forest species along the way including Dark-backed Weaver, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Green-backed Camaroptera, White-eared and Black-collared Barbets. There were also several obliging Blue Duikers and a strange moth’s nest.
We followed the Panhandle trail down to the dam and were rewarded with a very productive bird party of Grey Waxbill, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Black-backed Puffback, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Yellow-bellied Greenbul and arguably the bird of the day – a Gorgeous Bushshrike. The views of the latter were somewhat fleeting and sadly seen by only a few – a great lifer for me but a photo of one will have to wait for another day.
The water level in the dam was very low and few birds were seen. Birds on the wing included the majestic African Crowned Eagle, Yellow-billed Kite (Milvus parasitus), Little Swift and African Palm-swift.
The walk back to the Environmental centre along the road on the north side was fairly unproductive, and having been out for almost 4 hours, thoughts of food and beverages were probably uppermost on all our minds – and the loos!!!.
Chairs and picnic baskets were hauled out and everyone gathered around the picnic area – all the while keeping an eye out for more birds. The Flat Crown tree above us was decked out in its new summer finery, and was the scene for more excitement.
Flitting above us were a few Olive Bushshrikes, both the buff and olive morphs.
Whilst craning our already stiff necks a whirl of feathers crashed through the tree canopy which happened to be a Little Sparrowhawk – with the buff morph Olive Bushshrike firmly gripped in its talons. It swooped off into the undergrowth and out of sight to enjoy its meal!
After most people had left, those that stayed behind were rewarded with a somewhat late-season sighting of a Spotted Ground Thrush. The final tally for the day of all species either seen or heard was fifty-seven – not too shabby. Click here to see the list.
Yours in birding,
PS Sighting of Common Whimbrels at the beach at River Valley Resort, Pennington.
On Saturday 11 October 2014 Dave Bishop will be presenting a half-day course on “A Beginner’s Guide to Bird Identification”. Dave is extremely well-known for his informative courses and outings, as well as a public speaker of note. He is planning a lengthy trip away from the beginning of next year, so this is an opportunity to either improve your birding skills, or for those just starting out to get an excellent grounding with one of the top birders in the club. Bird Guide books will be available for sale at the workshop from the club shop.
Please distribute this information widely especially amongst people who will benefit from such a course.
On Sunday 12 October there will be a visit to Shongweni Dam (NB entrance fee by credit card – no cash) at 06h30. This gives you an opportunity to try out your new skills in IDing the birds. We will finish at 10h00 and end with a bring your own breakfast at the picnic site.
Venue : Paradise Valley Nature Reserve Conference Centre, Pinetown.
Directions : From M13 westbound, take the Stapleton Road/New Germany turn-off. (Exit 16). Keep left into Eden Road. Follow Eden Road past the Blood Bank, turn right into Oxford Road. The reserve is at the end of the road.
Time: 08h30 – registration.
09h00 – workshop begins
13h00 – workshop ends
Entrance fee : R80 per BirdLife member; R100 per non-member.
Materials : Writing pad and pen or pencil, binoculars for afterwards. Brief notes will be provided but it is recommended that you use a guide book as well.
Tea, coffee and refreshments will be available on arrival and mid-morning. If you would like to stay for lunch afterwards, do please bring your own picnic baskets.
Save Our Seabirds will be celebrated this year on Tuesday, 7th October at uShaka Marine SeaWorld, 17h30 for 18h00. Snacks will be provided and a walk around the aquarium will follow the talk. There is no charge other than the parking.
FLYING IN THE ANTARCTIC FREEZER
Judy and Bruce Mann
Join marine biologists Judy and Bruce Mann on the experience of a life time – to Ushuaia, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula. From majestic albatrosses to wallowing whales, this presentation will take you to this almost untouched wilderness. While the stunning scenery, fearless wildlife and dramatic geology are breath-taking, the sensitivity of this remote region to human activities in our own back yard becomes clear. It is here that Climate Change is real and the true Web of Life which connects everything on our amazing planet is revealed.
PLEASE NOTE that this takes the place of the Wednesday evening talk at Westville Methodist Church – there will be no talk there in October. The evening is now Tuesday 7 October at uShaka and a wonderful opportunity to hear Judy and Bruce and see something of the aquarium.
BirdLife International – the world’s largest conservation partnership – has announced that vultures have rapidly become one of the most threatened families of birds on the planet. In a bid to stop this important family of birds slipping towards extinction in Europe and Africa, today we have launched a global campaign asking for public support to Stop Vulture Poisoning Now.
Following recent catastrophic declines of vultures in Asia that left landscapes littered with carcasses, vultures in Europe and Africa may be set to follow unless we act now – warn conservationists from BirdLife International.
Vultures are important and essential for our health: “Vultures play a fundamental role that no other birds do: they clean our landscapes”, said Iván Ramírez, Head of Conservation for BirdLife International in Europe and Central Asia.
Yet they are facing new and massive threats across Europe and Africa.
A veterinary drug that is lethally toxic to vultures has been discovered to be commercially available in at least two European countries. Used to treat inflammation in livestock, this is the same drug (diclofenac) that has wiped out 99% of vultures in India, Pakistan and Nepal.
At the same time, vultures in Africa are facing increasing threats from poisoning (deliberate and accidental), persecution for body parts to be used in traditional medicine, habitat loss, collision with power-lines, and more.
“Three of every four old-world vulture species are already globally threatened with extinction or Near Threatened according the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”, said Kariuki Ndanganga, BirdLife Africa’s Species Programme Manager. “Unless threats are identified and tackled quickly and effectively, vultures in Africa and Europe could face extinction within our lifetime.”
The decline of vultures in Asia was shockingly fast – quicker than any other wild bird, including the Dodo. Within a decade – almost overnight in ecological timescales – species such as White-rumped Vulture fell by 99.9% as a result of diclofenac in India alone. “Where a thousand birds once flew, on average only a single bird survived the carnage,” added Ramírez.
Despite the tragic experience in Asia and the availability of safe and inexpensive drug alternatives, BirdLife has confirmed that, worryingly, veterinary diclofenac is now commercially available in Spain and Italy. Both these countries are strongholds for vultures in Europe.
As well as the impending threat of diclofenac, a multitude of other complex threats need to be unravelled further in Africa, and investment needed to tackle them. Vultures have declined in West Africa on average by 95% in three decades alone. Across Africa, seven of the eleven vulture species are now listed as globally threatened, with species such as Hooded Vulture recently being up-listed to Endangered in 2011.
With a Partnership of over 100 independent organisations worldwide, BirdLife has the power and the ability to save vultures, but we urgently need £20,000 to identify, and tackle the threats to these most beautiful and important of birds.
“We know what we need to do in Europe – ban veterinary diclofenac”, said Jim Lawrence, BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions Programme Manager. “We also know what we need to do for Africa – quickly review the fast-changing threats so we can act quickly, with priority”.
“However you see them, please support the urgent work needed to save Africa and Europe’s threatened vultures by generously supporting our appeal”, concluded Lawrence. “Your support is vital to this work and will make a real difference to its success. So please, dig deep, donate generously now and help us keep vultures flying as high as they should be”.
To support the ‘Stop Vulture Poisoning Now’ campaign, please click here now.
After reading Paul’s recent postings about Sappi Hide we decided to drive up there and see if the Greater Flamingoes and Avocets were still present.
Well, we were not disappointed! We were treated to spectacular fly-pasts by both species and they remained on the spit and on the mud flats in front of the hide all day.
An African Marsh-Harrier made an appearance. There were numerous waders e.g. Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Common Greenshanks, Black-winged Stilts,and Ruff – two of which were still in partial breeding plumage. Cape, Red-billed and Hottentot Teals were also present.
We went to the picnic site and drove on the roads between the ponds. Brown-throated weavers, Red-faced Mousebirds, Dark-capped Yellow Warblers, Wire-tailed Swallows were seen, as well as Scarlet-chested Sunbirds.
But the biggest treat was the stunning sighting of a pair of Black-throated Wattle-eyes. Also great sightings of a pair of Klaas’s Cuckoo.
Some Slender Mongooses crossed our path on several occasions. We recorded a list of about 73 species which didn’t include some unidentified warblers.
After the Palmiet BMCG (Bird Monitoring and Conservation Group) meeting 13h30 Saturday 13 September, we took a short stroll to the river’s edge.
We were delighted to have good sightings of Mountain Wagtails (see photos) at the lowest deck from the hide/lapa. One flew up into a crevice of the rock face (looking slightly upstream) which we think is its nesting site (see picture).
Mountain Wagtail nest site under top overhang below overhanging grass
Mountain Wagtail nest site under top overhang below overhanging grass
In the 20 minutes we were there we recorded:
Southern Black Tit
Mountain Wagtail (2) at nest
Grey-headed Bushshrike (heard)
Southern Boubou (heard)
African Dusky Flycatcher
This excludes the birds heard at the lapa during the BMCG meeting: Hadeda Ibis, Sombre Greenbul, Bar-throated Apalis, Purple-crested Turaco, and Yellow-billed Kite.
There were 12 present and us locals were delighted that the Durbanites supported the outing.
The Mpanbonyoni river that came down in flood two years ago all but destroyed TC but as time went by it turned out a blessing, we now have wide river banks and a lagoon that ends on Scottburgh beach. This has improved the variety of birdlife.
Birding began at the entrance to the reserve overlooking the Mpambanyoni river as we waited for everyone to arrive. The day started with an African Fish Eagle sighting and finished with excellent sightings of Black Cuckooshrikes (male and female) foraging on the ground in the area close to the bird hide (overlooking a dried out pan at present).
An Olive sunbird entertained us repeatedly hovering in mid air flapping its wings like mad – an unusual sight.
During the morning there were sightings of four of the kingfisher species – the African Pied had a couple of successful fishing expeditions. All in all, 67 different species were sighted and or the calls heard.
Thank you for your submission to the BirdLife South Africa Rarities Committee on 2013/12/15 of a Eurasian Reed-Warbler on the Umzumbe River floodplain.
The members of the committee have now had an opportunity to independently adjudicate your submission and we are pleased to inform you that your submission has been accepted by the committee.
To this end, your accepted record will be posted on the BirdLife South Africa website, and will also appear in the annual rarities report to be published in African Birdlife and Ornithological Observations.
Your effort in preparing this submission is appreciated and it adds to our understanding of the appearance of rarities in our country. We look forward to receiving further submissions from you in the future.
Sally and I went to SAPPI (the saw mill close to Stanger, KZN) on Sunday to watch the bird ringing efforts of Garth Aiston and James Rawdon. The variety of the birds which were ringed included Cape White-eyes; African Paradise-Flycatcher; Sunbirds – Scarlet-chested and Olive; Dark-capped Yellow Warbler and numerous other warblers; Black-throated Wattleye; Weavers – including Southern Masked-Weaver; Malachite, Pygmy and Brown-hooded Kingfishers to name a few.
It is impressive to watch the way the birds are delicately handled and the records that are kept. It is a chance to see the birds up close and personal and to be shown how each bird is correctly identified by Garth and James. Their knowledge is immense.
The lasting impression you get when you see the birds so close is how small they actually are compared to when you see them in their natural habitat (especially through binoculars).
Whilest there we visited the bird hide and wandered around the ponds. This is an excellent place to see a wide variety of waterbirds including some of the more difficult species – like Snipes, Crakes and Rails. Only African Snipes made an appearance for us.
The hide overlooks a stretch of land protruding into the pond and provides an ideal place to practice bird photography. To show you what I mean by variety of birds to be seen I have attached the following photos. Amongst them is a photo of a mystery warbler – have a go at IDing it. Click on the bird to enlarge it then add your comment below it.
Peter Steyn has asked me to share photos of a raptor taken on the Kafue River at Mayukuyuku Safari Camp on 13 August 2014 because he is not certain about it. The co-ordinates to the safari camp are: S 14 deg 57.2′ E 26 deg 02.4′.
Some points are:
It was buzzard-size, like a JB. I thought it was a buzzard but according to some maps there are no buzzards there. Peter has excluded buzzard.
It seemed to stick to the riverine area, as though that was its natural habitat.
The “feathering” on the legs is very fine and almost absent.
Some feathers on the nape and towards the crown have distinctive marks on.
I think there was barring on top of the tail. I did not detect a white rump.
The whitish feathers on the sides of the head and neck seem notable.
Please click on the photos below to enlarge them. Leave your comments beneath the photos at the end of the post.