Report by Elena Russell
Last year’s outing to Palmiet was cancelled due to heavy rain which made the river crossing impossible. Another year, another attempt.
We had a good turnout mostly members and a couple of visitors. We had two options; cross the river in search of the grasslands or take the path alongside the river, both options were not without their hazards. Mike Roseblade took a group alongside the river and the other group crossed the river.
This year the crossing looked OK but some of the stepping stones were under water and a few people turned back and joined Mike’s group but we had John, Oscar and Calvin to assist us over the worst bits. Oscar was up to his knees in icy water and John was busy taking photos!
The path up through the kloof is very rugged but we had some good birds, Purple Crested Turaco; Collared, Amethyst, Grey, Olive and White-bellied Sunbirds; Cape Batis; Cape White-eye: Sombre and Yellow-bellied Greenbuls; Dark-capped Bulbul; Terrestrial Brownbul; Fork-tailed and Square-tailed Drongos and eventually reached a small patch of grassland.
Here we picked up Bronze and Red-back Mannikins; Dusky Flycatcher and Crowned Hornbills flew over. Also Tawny-flanked Prinia; Black Flycatcher; Golden-Tailed Woodpecker; Black-backed Puffback (trash bird of the day); African Firefinch and onwards and upwards because we knew there was bigger and better grassland further up.
Then the “great big rock” in the middle of the path put an end to our endeavours so we turned back but we were still picking up some nice birds: Bar-throated Apalis; Southern Boubou; Black Cuckooshrike; Red-capped Robin Chat; White-browed Scrub Robin; Black-headed Oriole; Black-Collared and White-eared Barbets and lots more including the Mountain Wagtail.
Back at the picnic site Mike’s group had the Best Bird of the Day, the Half-collared Kingfisher and although we hunted up and down the river after tea we had no luck.
Our bird count was 53 at tea and then we picked up Brown-backed Honeybird to make a total of 54.
Palmiet is not the easiest nature reserve to bird but Lesley says there is a top gate which leads directly to the grassland and hopefully she will investigate how to gain access to this part of the reserve.
Thanks to Mike for leading the one group and thanks to Sheryl (Half-collared Kingfisher) and John for the great photos.