Shongweni Dam Outing

Report By Elena Russell

4 November 2017

David Swanepoel took some lovely photos. He is a very good birder (from the Cape) – one day he could take over Saturday outings!!! Also some great photos from John Bremner and Mike Stead.

I drove up in mist and had visions of Alverstone and the mist not lifting till nearly 8am but Shongweni was fine, a little overcast but the sun came out eventually and we got some good birding in.

We had a good turnout and broke up into two groups – thanks Oscar for leading the one group.

Both groups did a big circle around the office and the staff quarters.  Great views of a White-browed Scrub-Robin, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Black-bellied Starlings, Tawny-flanked Prinias, masses of Village Weavers and coming back over the road the Rufous-naped Lark called from a tree top.

Butterfly – John Bremner


Little Bee-eaters everywhere, Bar-throated Apalis and a superb view of a Black-crowned Tchagra.

Black-crowned Tchagra – David Swanepoel

But of course Oscar’s group had the Narina Trogon! We did hear the Trogon but it was not seen!!

We all then headed down to the view site over-looking the dam. The Trumpeter Hornbills are still nesting in the rock crevice and we had good views of the Mocking Cliff-chat. There was a White-breasted Cormorant on the dam but it was rather quite.

After a short break (no coffee break allowed by order of your leader!) we went and parked down by the bottom for a walk to the dam wall and surroundings.  But what do we have perched in a tangle of vines on a tree but a baby!! Dusky Flycatcher – you cannot move the group, we are transfixed – it was pretty cute. Ha! Ha!  Some great photos.

Down at the dam wall there were Thick-billed and Yellow Weavers making nests in the reeds, African Pied Wagtails, Speckled Pigeons, White-Breasted and Reed Cormorants but we were really having to work hard for our birds.

Overhead we had Barn, Lesser Striped and White-throated Swallows and Swifts: Black, White-rumped, Palm and Little.

Down to the river where the big pipe comes out and we picked up Mountain Wagtail, Common Sandpiper, African Black Duck, Collared Sunbird and a few more.

Mountain Wagtail – John Bremner

Looking up at the cliff face we had Red-winged Starlings, Common Buzzard, White-necked Raven, African Harrier Hawk, Lanner Falcon and of course in Summer there are always Yellow-billed Kites everywhere.

We then walked down to the “Big Steps”, the path was not too bad but rather overgrown around the steps and not much to see. We did see another Common aka Steppe Buzzard – the first one was mainly brown and the second was a very pale morph.

Common Buzzard – John Bremner

We then went down to the picnic site for tea and a more pleasant spot you could not find – Yellow-billed Ducks, Egyptian Geese, Green-backed Herons, White Breasted Cormorants and Darters sitting on some rocks. Then we heard the Fish Eagle and Black Cuckoo calling. The Brown-hooded Kingfisher called, Glossy Starlings, Black Flycatchers and lots more.

At tea our bird count was 101 and John and Oscar went off for another walk, through the forest and up to the contour road, and added a further 10 birds – great stuff but I had to go home and walk the dog! Click here to see the bird list.

Thanks to Sandi for the bird list and John Bremner, Mike Stead and David Swanepoel for the great photos.


Elena Russell

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