Report by John Bremner
Saturday 29th April 2017
Adam Cruickshank is organizing a Bird Day for July to raise awareness of Birding as a pastime as well as its valuable contribution towards conservation. We were asked, as a committee, to help with this initiative. Arnia, Sean and I went on an exploratory walk with Adam and a small group of local birders to access the venue. The weather was fantastic, no wind to speak of and a clear blue sky.
This is a new venue in the early stages of development next to the Illovo Business Park just outside Amanzimtoti about 30 minutes drive from Durban. There is secure parking inside the Business Park with a security guard on duty. The Business Park is right next to the Illovu River and has a restaurant and brewery on site. Just what birders are looking for after an early start?
Right next to the restaurant is the entrance to the nature reserve. The reserve consists of a grassland area as you enter on your right with sugar cane on the left, there are some trees along the river and there is a small remnant of coastal forest about 1.5 Kms from the entrance. There are trails cut and well maintained covering about 5 Kms of mainly flat pathways along the river and through the forest area.
Right from the start we could see loads of bird activity along the river and in the grasses at the side of the path, Bronze Manikins, Yellow Fronted Canaries, doves, sunbirds and many others were seen as we headed towards the river. In the cane fields were flocks of birds a little far off for clear views but we picked out Pin-tailed Whydah and some weavers amoung them.
At the river we found Giant, Brown-hooded and Malachite Kingfishers and a Pygmy Kingfisher in the forested area.
We had flybys by Spurwinged Geese, Egyptian Geese and a beautiful African Fish-Eagle.
We also spotted a mystery rapture fly past, we were not sure but Arnia thought it maybe a Palm-Nut Vulture, we got some very long distance photos which when blown up on the computer showed some of the features, Arnia sent them to David Allan who confirmed it was indeed a juvenile Palm-Nut Vulture. What a nice addition to the bird list.
In the river are some sandbanks and there are some cane fences that have been built which are intended to be used as bird hides, from here you can scan the river and sandbanks. On the sand bank were some Three-banded Plovers and further up the river we could see some Water Thick-knees.
We moved on to the forest.
In the forest we could hear the Green-backed Camaroptera and we saw a Black-throated Wattle-eye as well as our very own Natal Robin (RCRC) and a Sombre Greenbul, there were a few others but as always they did not hang around or perch to be identified.
All in all it was a lovely morning birding in a new and interesting venue. We had a bird list of about 60 species. Click here to view the list. I am sure this will become a popular spot because there is loads of potential and having an easily accessible river frontage just adds another highlight to your birding experience. Let us hope the Bird Day is a big success. Thanks Adam for your enthusiasm and good luck.