Report by Elena Russell
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.