Report by Sandi du Preez
It was raining on arrival and I had already received some messages from members who decided not to attend because of the rain.
But John, Ros, Elena, Kay and I thought that we would just go quickly to the bridge to see if the Mountain Wagtails were there and then go home.
Well, of course the Wagtails were there – they always are!
Despite the drizzle, it was very pleasant and wind-free so we decided to fetch our chairs and coffee and sit under the shelter at the office and have an early picnic time. That proved to be a very wise decision as we were treated to excellent sedentary birding.
The Mountain Wagtails delighted us by coming up onto the lawn and into the trees. A young Red-chested Cuckoo gave us wonderful views as it moved conspicuously on the branches of one of the trees. There are some dead trees nearby which are always “decorated” with Hadedas and of course they were on their perches today. A Crowned Eagle flew onto the top of a tall distant dead tree and was harassed by a single Hadeda who obviously coveted that particular perch for itself but the eagle was having none of that and would not budge!
Among other birds that we got to see or hear from our chairs were Dusky, Black and Spotted Flycatchers, Egyptian Goose, Hamerkop, Speckled Mousebird, Black-headed Oriole, Black-backed Puffback, Black-bellied, Glossy and Red-winged Starlings, Amethyst and Olive Sunbirds, Southern Black Tit, Purple-crested Turaco and Cape White-eyes.
When the rain stopped, John, Ros and I went for a little walk through the picnic area and along the river bank where we picked up Malachite Kingfisher, more pairs of Mountain Wagtails, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Tambourine Dove, as well as another good sighting of the Red-chested Cuckoo. (I think that it had been following us to reward us for not being intimidated by the rain!) In the car park we got a White-eared Barbet.
John then fetched his camera from his car in order to photograph the Mountain Wagtails and he got some bonus photos – dassies sheltering in the crevices of the rocky cliff and the Cuckoo turned up again!
Altogether we recorded 32 species – not bad for an outing that almost didn’t happen!