Shongweni 2nd January 2016


Report by Elena Russell.

Again we had an early start 05:30 – according to the weather forecast we were in for a very hot day but it turned out very pleasant with a lot of cloud cover which kept the morning  reasonably cool.

People came and went but at about 06:00 there must have been about 19 of us.

We started off at the office and walked to the soccer field, down the road and on to the maintenance sheds.  It was here that we must have had between 20/30 Trumpeter Hornbills – fabulous sight.   Lots of Violet-backed, Glossy, Red-winged and Black-bellied Starlings; Barn and Lesser Striped Swallows and a few Black Saw-wings.

Emerald Spotted Doves called continuously but seldom seen! Also identified were Black-headed Orioles; Black-collared and Crested Barbets; Chinspot Batis; Common Fiscal; Grey-headed Sparrows; Familiar Chat; Rattling Cisticolas; Neddicky; a fly-by of Cattle Egrets and good views of Long-crested Eagle and Common Buzzard and of course Yellow-billed Kites. Red-chested, Diderick and Klaas’s Cuckoos were heard and again seldom seen.  Black-crowned Tchagra was also heard calling.

Our 1st tea break was at the ‘dam wall’ looking down at the dam (lots of green algae) and the birding was not too good on the dam. We did pick up a lovely Cape Rock Thrush; White-breasted Cormorants; Egyptian Geese; Wire-tailed and White-throated Swallows.

Then we went down to the dam wall proper. Here we had African Pied and Cape Wagtails (see Hennie’s great shot of a wagtail having a roll in the grass!) –  crazy bird.

African Pied Wagtail

African Pied Wagtail

A very obliging Green-backed Heron was also seen, and on the cliff face an African Harrier-Hawk was robbing Black Swift (?) nests.   White-necked Ravens; Rock Martins; Palm Swifts etc, etc.   On the way back popped down to the stream by the tunnel – hoping for a Mountain Wagtail but no luck but we did get a pair of African Black Duck.

And on the cliff face an African Harrier-Hawk was robbing Black Swift (?) nests.   White-necked Ravens; Rock Martins; Palm Swifts etc, etc.

On the way back popped down to the stream by the tunnel – hoping for a Mountain Wagtail but no luck but we did get a pair of African Black Duck.

Then on to the ‘Giant Steps’. Some of the birds seen and heard – White-browed Scrub Robin; Red-capped Robin-chat; Willow Warbler; Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler; Swee Waxbill; Cape, Thick-billed, Yellow, Spectacled and Village Weavers; Green Wood-hoopoe; Cardinal and Golden-tailed Woodpeckers; Olive Thrush; Red-fronted Tinkerbird; Southern Black Tit; Amethyst and Grey Sunbirds; Natal Spurfowl; Mocking Cliff-Chat; Brown-hooded Kingfisher.   Flycatchers were pretty good – Black, Spotted, Dusky and Paradise. Plus lots more!!

Our bird count at the 2nd tea break, down at the camp site, was 98. Then a few diehards walked the Ipithi (?) trail up to the contour road and back down to the camp site and picked up Little Rush Warbler; Crowned Eagle; Terrestrial Brownbul ; Collared Sunbird; Lesser Honeyguide and Dark-backed Weaver bringing the total to 104. We also had some good bird parties on this walk.

Here are some of the Dragonflies, Butterflies/Moths photographed.

Hennie and Declan picked up a European Roller on the lines on the way out  – I checked with Jenny Norman and she says it is sometimes seen there but not often so it was a pretty good sighting.

The picture of the snail is a Cannibal Snail which was courting death crossing the road – we all thought the approaching taxi would take out the snail but the driver carefully positioned his tyres so that the snail was under the body of the taxi – hooray for taxi drivers.  We then saved the snail by picking it up and placing it in the grass on the verge of the road – hooray for birders!!

DSC_0089

The snail is actually an African Land Snail of the genus Achatina (not sure which species). The cannibal snail is genus Natalina and has a much flatter spiral shell that is olive green in colour. If anyone is interested, I have a photo of Natalina eating Achatina taken in our garden for comparison purposes. Regards Steve Davis

Thanks to Hennie and Decklan Jordaan for the great pics – and a great first outing for 2016.

Elena Russell

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4 Responses to Shongweni 2nd January 2016

  1. Steve Davis says:

    A further correction – the “pretty orchid” looks like the flowers of the Australian Pest Pear – Opuntia stricta. This is one of the declared alien invasive plants and is in the prickly pear family. Although the flowers are pretty, it must be eradicated.
    Steve

  2. Jenny says:

    I’ve put the names of the dragonflies, butterflies and moth on each picture.

  3. Steve Davis says:

    The snail in your picture is actually an African Land Snail of the genus Achatina (not sure which species. The cannibal snail is genus Natalina and has a much flatter spiral shell that is olive green in colour. If anyone is interested, I have a photo of Natalina eating Achatina taken in our garden for comparison purposes.

    Regards
    Steve

  4. sandi du preez says:

    The the orange and blue “butterfly ” is actually a Peach Moth – one of the beautiful day-flying moths.

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