Bisley Valley Outing

Report by Sandi du Preez and Elena Russell

22 October 2017

We had asked Ian Gordon from BirdLife KZN Midlands to join us on the outing as he is very familiar with the reserve and his birding skills are legendary! This proved to be an excellent decision.

Not the best of starts to our day. Firstly, it was jolly cold and the Bisley gate was padlocked. Ian tried calling various numbers to no avail and when some of the stable hands turned up for work (adjoining the nature reserve is a riding establishment) we got quite excited as we presumed somebody would come down to unlock the gate. No such luck, it was after 7am before we got in. We understand the gate is supposed to be unlocked at 5am but the man either overslept or who knows!! Ian said he would look into getting better access as Dave Rimmer has an outing there in February.

Now for the good news!! It was a great days birding, and by tea time the day had warmed up beautifully. Diderick and Red-chested Cuckoos everywhere – positively trash birds!

Ian took us on a trail we had not been on before. Lots of discussion over a pipit that kept disappearing amongst the grass tussocks – turned out to be an African Pipit – it eventually flew up to a post and we saw the white outer tail feathers!! Nearby we had a lovely Long-tailed Widowbird.

We all love bushveld birding and target birds for the day were Acacia Pied Barbet, Common Scimitarbill and Brubru. Unfortunately, we only heard the Barbet and the Scimitarbill but we had fantastic sightings of several Brubru.

Other creatures spotted

Other typical bushveld birds seen or heard were Black-crowned and Brown-crowned Tchagra, Chinspot Batis, Golden-breasted Bunting, Black Cuckoo.

Some great raptors – African Fish, Long-crested and Wahlberg’s Eagles; African Harrier-Hawk and Yellow-billed Kite.

Special surprises were Common (Kurrichane) Buttonquail and Common Quail!

Other species of interest were Crested Barbet, Olive and Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Cape Canary, Familiar Chat, Croaking, Rattling and Zitting Cisticola, Black Cuckooshrike, Fiscal, Spotted and Paradise Flycatcher, Cape Grassbird, Greater and Lesser Honeyguide, African Hoopoe, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Red-billed Quelea, Streaky-headed Seedeater, Violet-backed Starling, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Red-throated Wryneck.

After tea some of the group left, it was very hot!! But the rest of us went down to the hide, nice and cool, and watched the Red Bishops, Village and Yellow Weavers busy building nests. Moorhens and Red-knobbed Coots plus a Snow goose or should it be snow duck (domestic duck) to keep us amused. Afterwards we went off looking for the Acacia Pied Barbet but had no luck.

The total species count was 101. Click here to see the list. This would never have been achieved without Ian – so a BIG THANK YOU to him!

Then on to Darvill, as when near PMB, Darvill has to be checked out and we couldn’t return to Durban too soon as we did not want to be caught up in the tail end of the Amashovashova.

Comb Duck had been reported there recently and, luckily for us, it was still there! African Snipe was also seen. At least 55 species were recorded.

What a wonderful day, with Lifers for some and year list birds for others. Fantastic to see species that we don’t get in the eThekwini area. We look forward to going back to Bisley in February.

 Thanks to Sheryl Halstead for some great photos.

Sandi and Elena

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