Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures: Click here. Jeremia, Pharaoh, Inkosi Yeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vultures Click here. Bennie and Shuttle for the period 20-27 November 2016.
Trip report – KwaXimba Conservancy, Umgeni Valley (Sunday 13 November 2016)
Report by Dave Rimmer
The November Sunday outing was a second chance for BLPN birders to explore the wonders of the KwaXimba conservancy, and one I was again looking forward to sharing with many of the club’s birders.
Perhaps the week of miserable weather put people off and as a result the turnout this year was again low with only Sandi du Preez, Elena Russell and Ian Matthews assembling at the iSiThumba Cultural Village to accompany Penny and I.
The first birds of the day were on the wing including African Palm Swifts, Lesser Striped Swallows, Yellow-billed Kite, and Barn Swallows, along with some of the more common species usually encountered near human settlements such as Common Myna, Red-eyed Dove, Southern Fiscal, Red-winged Starling and Cape Sparrow. In the background, we had the chattering from the Village Weaver colony nesting in the trees behind the main building of the cultural centre.
Our host for the morning was Jeffery Buthelezi who assists with various tours organized through Durban Green Corridor (DGC).
After a bit of a delayed start we proceeded down to the river seeing Cape Glossy Starling, Black Saw-wing and the flying Vuvuzela (Hadeda Ibis).
No amount of spishing could entice a Bar-throated Apalis calling incessantly from within the Bushveld Thicket to come out and give us a visual.
Butterflies teased us into taking photos – as well as a snail.
A scan across the river to the south gave us distant views of a Goliath Heron and a couple of male Giant Kingfishers flying up river, accompanied by the distant calls of a Southern Boubou.
There have been a few cases of illegal sand mining along the river in the area, and signs of excavator tracks, road ways and stock piles of sand and rocks is certainly a cause for concern – and an eyesore!
Both sides of the river have pathways for trail runners and mountain bikers as part of the DGC initiatives for eco-tourism in the area. However, these are being spoilt by an endless stream of off-road motocross bikers over week ends, leading to erosion of the tracks and noise pollution – certainly not something that should be associated with a conservancy!
We meandered along the river edge and watched a large group of paddlers participating in a 50km two-day canoeing event, and during which picking up on various water birds, some of which they kindly flushed for us. Birds seen included Black Crake, African Jacana,Great Egret, Yellow-billed and African BlackDucks, a single Three-banded Plover, and a Purple Heron flying along the far bank.
The river is fringed with Bushveld thicket which gave us good views of Chinspot Batis, Diederik Cuckoo, African Paradise Flycatchers, Blue Waxbill, Little Bee-eaters, Violet-backed Starling, African Dusky Flycatcher, and Cardinal Woodpecker.
Our bird of the day without doubt was a group of White-winged Widowbirds flitting about in the grasslands of what is to become an agricultural project for the community.
As with all birding trips there are the inevitable birds heard but not seen, including Emerald-spotted Wood-dove, Red-chested Cuckoo, Burchell’s Coucal, Olive Bushshrike, Southern Boubou, Green-backed Camaroptera, and Black-headed Oriole.
we encountered Golden-breasted Bunting, Yellow Weaver, African Pygmy Kingfisher, Blue Waxbill, Kurrichane Thrush, Familiar Chat and a small group of Wire-tailed Swallows resting on one of the rocks in the river.
We constantly scanned above the imposing iSiThumba Mountain
– an iconic spot in the area in search of raptors but had to make do with Yellow-billed Kites and an unidentified raptor too far off to get decent visuals of.
The final tally for the day was 81 species either seen or heard, with all records submitted to SABAP2 on two Full Protocol cards – viva atlassing! Click here for a full species list for the day.
Many thanks to Sandi, Elena, and Ian for venturing out for the day, and of course to my special birding buddy (Penny) for accompanying me and sharing my passion for birds and the outdoors. It was a most enjoyable outing – so much so that Sandi insists that KwaXimba should be penciled in on the calendar as an annual outing – no objections from my side as it really is a wonderful place to visit. Hope to see more of you out there with us next time.
Light conditions on the day were poor making photography a challenge, hence only a few pictures to share with you this time.
Six of us, Mike, Jane, Peter, Frankie, Cheryl and John, headed for Richard’s Bay, to join the Zululand Bird Club, with Richard as our leader.
Four of us were camping- Richard’s Bay campsite was amazing.
We set off on Saturday morning at 5.30am in very dismal weather conditions. There were fifteen of us in all, as 9 members had joined us from the Zululand Club.
We drove off in convoy and stopped at various forest spots. We were amazed at the birds we saw: the Green Malkoha, African Green Pigeon, Crowned Hornbills, Trumpeter Hornbills, White-eared Barbets, Yellow-breasted Apalis… and many more.
From there, we traveled to some wetlands where we saw the African Pygmy Goose, African Marsh Harrier… and Squacco Herons by the dozen!
We then moved on to the Casuarinas Mudflats where we first stopped for something to nibble on and then set off for the beach.
While we were walking along the beach, we saw a Palm-nut Vulture flying low overhead- very exciting! There were a lot of Caspian Terns, Common Terns, little Terns, Sandwich Terns, Swift Terns.
The most exciting part of this section of our birding were the Whimbrel! Patrick Rollinson had seen a bird here that looked very much like it could be the Steppe Whimbrel which would have flown up from Maputo. He submitted his photos to Gary Allport and Callan Cohen, who are experts on these birds, and they seem quite confident that this was in fact the Steppe Whimbrel that we saw! More study will be done to verify this. It made our day to have Patrick on hand to point out to us what we should be looking for in identifying this rare bird.
After that we headed back to the campsite for a well-deserved break and enjoyed a lovely evening around the fire.
Sunday was quite uneventful as the weather was very miserable. We went through to Nseleni Nature Reserve. We had a lovely hike but the birding was very slow. The walk through the fig forest was beautiful and well worth the effort. We stopped for a snack in the parking lot and then headed back to our campsite and then home.
In total 81 species were recorded – click here to see the list.
Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures (click here): Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vultures (click here) Bennie and Shuttle for the period 13-20 November 2016.
This morning I saw Mollie on her roosting cliff with another adult whilst I was undertaking an eland survey in the Drakensberg. It would appear that she is setting up a territory , so we will keep an eye out during the next breeding season.
Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures: Jeremia, Springbok, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie – click here; and our Cape Vultures Bennie and Shuttle – click here – for the period 24-30 October 2016. One of our Bearded Vulture Task Force members will be checking Springboks nest this week to see if she and her partner are still in their breeding territory.
Shongweni never ceases to amaze. I arrived just before 6am on a very gloomy day – the mist lay heavy in the valley and I thought nobody was going to pitch but in the end about 18 of us were birding – in fact we broke up into two groups to start with, both groups picking up some excellent birds.
A pair of Lanner Falcons swooping over the soccer pitch and coming back to land in one of the trees was taken as a good omen for the birding still to come.
Mark’s group picked up Black Cuckooshrike, Black Cuckoo and Orange-breasted Bushshrike. The Rufous-naped Lark sang from the telephone wire; lots of Dusky Flycatchers and Adam who took most of the photos found out later when checking ID’s with Jenny that the one African Dusky Flycatcher was in fact a Brown-backed Honeybird – Ah! The joys of photography.
YBK’s everywhere but just in the hope of something different one has to check them out!!
Cape Sparrow (which I have only seen there once before) was a good tick. A few were lucky enough to see the Striped Pipit and also at the spot looking over the dam we had the Black-crowned Night Heron and a Green-backed Heron. The Trumpeter Hornbills must have chicks in their nest in the krantz as they were seen a number of times going backwards and forwards to ‘their hole in the wall’.
Some of the birds seen: Rock Martins, Lesser-striped and Barn Swallows, Swifts – Little, Black and Alpine (a good one), Sunbirds – Amethyst, Collared, Olive, Grey. African Black Duck and Mountain Wagtail down by the tunnel as well as Common Sandpiper. Starlings – Black-bellied, Cape Glossy, Red-winged and Violet-backed. Burchell’s Coucal, Mocking Cliff Chat, African Firefinch, African Harrier Hawk, Brown-hooded and Giant Kingfishers, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Neddicky, Rattling Cisticola. Doves – Laughing, Red-eyed, Tambourine and Emerald-spotted. Cuckoo – Klaas’s, Red-chested and Diederick. Plus lots more.
At tea-time our count was 99 – a few birders stayed on a little later and the bird count was eventually 102 – not too shabby!!
But not to be outdone Mark ID 33 butterflies – well done!!!
It turned out to be a great morning’s birding and butterflying even though the weather was not that great.
Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures: Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vultures Bennie and Shuttle for the period 30 October to 5 November 2016. Lehlwa and Camo seem to have expanded their ranges a bit this week, rather unusual for both of them!.
I also have good news regarding Springbok – She appears to be alive and well and has a large chick on the nest that is almost ready to fledge. Both adults were seen at the nest by our volunteer from Lesotho, Makhubu Shobana, during his visit last week. He did not see the transmitter but since the transmitter was technically sound, we can assume that it dropped off rather than failed. All transmitters are attached with a harness that is fitted with a weak link so that they drop off after a number of years. Springbok was fitted with a transmitter in 2012, so it appears that wear and tear has resulted in the transmitter dropping off after four years. Good news indeed that our breeding female is still alive and well.