Report by Dave Rimmer
Sunday 22 May 2016
It was a not so bright and breezy start, in fact quite chilly for the small group of 15 birders who braved the cold winters morning to meet at 06h30. But by the time we had all assembled there was enough light to get us on our way 20 minutes later.
The walk started with a raptor frenzy initiated by a pair of African Goshawks flying overhead, followed thereafter by a pair of Lanner Falcons going in the opposite direction and soon after that by a Peregrine Falcon. Not to be out done, a couple of Jackal Buzzards were seen perched atop a pylon and a distant tree respectively.
The walk along the north side cliff edge yielded the sounds of Sombre Greenbul, Black-backed Puffback, Bar-throated Apalis whilst brief views were had of White-bellied Sunbird and Red-winged Starlings.
Moving away from the cliffs and up into the grasslands soon had us scrambling for bins to sift through a mixed bird party consisting of Croaking Cisticola, Broad-tailed Warbler, Tawny-flanked Prinia, and Cape Grassbird in the grasses whilst flitting among the trees were Southern Black Tit, Chinspot Batis, Cardinal Woodpecker, Cape Rock Thrush, Red-throated Wryneck, Brubru and Yellow-throated Petronia.
Circling back to the top of the ridge a covey of Red-winged Francolins was flushed giving good views of the red wings (being a key ID feature) as they flurried away from us in haste.
The Peregrine Falcon seen at the start of the walk was perched at the top of the pylon giving all great photo opportunities whilst it soaked up the warming rays from the sun.
We proceeded to walk down to the Umgeni River and saw Crested Barbet, Neddicky, African Firefinch, Streaky-headed Seedeater en route and a Little Sparrowhawk, African Pied Wagtail and a Hamerkop close to the river.
The dead trees were carefully scrutinised in search of Bearded Woodpecker seen on a previous visit to Cumberland in January 2014 – no luck this time.
The hut on the river bend was occupied so we headed to the rocks on the rivers edge for a rest before trekking back up to the top of the hill. The return leg saw the group starting to splinter with some wanting to get back to the cars for drinks, food and no doubt the loos. Others continued the search for birds and were rewarded with Golden-breasted Bunting, Southern Tchagra, Little Bee-eater, Striped Pipit, Green Wood-hoopoe and Brown-backed Honeybird.
Aside from the birds, there were plenty of butterflies, wasps and moths to be seen for which pictures are included – hopefully their identities where provided have been recorded correctly!?
The final tally for the day was seventy-seven (77) bird species included a few others I added after the braai with relatives. Click here to see the list. Unless of course the final group of die-hards saw anything after I had departed the total could well be more, including some that I’ve missed or omitted to record. Until next time….
Yours in birding,