KwaXimba Conservancy Outing

KwaXimba Conservancy , Umgeni Valley

Sunday 12 November 2017

Report by Dave Rimmer

For the third year running numbers joining me on the BLPN outing to KwaXimba could be counted with less fingers on two hands.

I’m not sure whether it’s due to the early 06h00 start or a perception that it’s too remote a location to visit? Either way, by 6am the dawn chorus is already history and it’s really not that far nor remote – only half an hour from Pinetown!!

All the same, 9 birders joined me this year (thank you) and what a feast of birds we had.

There can’t be too many places on the outskirts of the city where one can view or hear a mix of bushveld birds (Long-billed Crombec, Blue Waxbill, Chinspot Batis, White-browed Scrub Robin and Violet-backed Starling), forest birds (Southern Boubou, Purple-crested Turaco and Tambourine Dove), and of course water birds (African Black Duck, Black Crake, Common Sandpiper, Hamerkop and Pygmy Geese) in the space of just a few hours.

Village Weaver (Photo credit – David Swanepoel)

The morning started off very misty which made for some interesting photo opportunities.

Morning mist scenery – Angels breathe (Dave Rimmer)

The mist soon lifted gradually giving way to the spectacular granite domes that surround the valley, and so too did it become hotter and hotter – hence the need for an early start.

Interesting geological rock formation (Dave Rimmer)

And it wasn’t just the birds that kept the group interested – there were some butterflies and dragonflies around, plus a large monitor lizard being watched closely by a goat (or was it the other way around?!) and a Roman spider or solifugid on the ground.

Roman spider or solifugid (Photo credit – David Swanepoel)

The first birds of the day were on the wing including African Palm Swifts, Lanner Falcon, Lesser Striped Swallows, Yellow-billed Kite, and Barn Swallows, along with some of the more common species usually encountered near human settlements such as Common Myna, Red-eyed Dove, Southern Fiscal, Red-winged Starling and Cape Sparrow. In the background, we had the chattering from the Village Weaver colony nesting in the trees behind the main building of the iSiThumba cultural centre.

Yellow-billed Kite with frog legs on the menu for breakfast (Photo credit – David Swanepoel)
Cheryl and Jeffery walk in the woods – splendid scenery (Photo credit – Steve Davis)

The trees seemed to be dripping with Diederik Cuckoo’s as they seemed to be everywhere – closely monitored by the ever-watchful weavers. Klaas’s Cuckoo could be heard calling and surprisingly no one heard the summer call of the normally ubiquitous Red-chested Cuckoo.

Kingfishers were aplenty with a total five species observed – Giant, African Pygmy, Malachite, Pied, and Brown-hooded Kingfishers.

We meandered along the river edge and watched a group of paddlers participating in a 50km two-day canoeing event and during which picking up on various water birds, some of which they kindly flushed for us.

Paddlers on the Umgeni River (Dave Rimmer)

Birds seen included African Jacana, Yellow-billed Ducks, a few Three-banded Plovers, Little Bee-eaters, Crested Barbet, Water Thick-knee, Brimstone Canary, White-bellied Sunbird, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, and a Cardinal Woodpecker.

Our bird of the day without doubt was a pair of African Pygmy Geese darting past us down the river – so quick there was just enough time to shout out an alert and point them out to those behind me. Sadly, no photo opportunity!

The final tally for the day was an impressive 98 species either seen or heard, with all records submitted to the SABAP2 database (one Full Protocol and one Ad hoc card) – viva atlassing! To see the list then click here.

Many thanks to Sandi du Preez, Ros Conrad, Steve Davis, Cay Hickson, Penny de Vries, Cheryl King, Mark Liptrot and David and Tania Swanepoel for venturing out for the day, as well as sharing with us some of your photos included herewith and of course to our host for the morning Jeffery Buthelezi who assists with various tours organized through Durban Green Corridor (DGC).

Yours in birding,

Dave Rimmer


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Irene Rasmussen says:

    Hi, Just want to respond to Dave Rimmer’s comments on the lack of participation on his outing to KwaXimba & wanted to make a suggestion. I often read the reports after the outings & feel disappointed that I wasn’t able to go but the ‘notice’ of these usually slips my attention or doesn’t sound inviting. Perhaps there should be more made of what to expect and the previous visit reports included in the invite so that people know what to expect? We are all so bombarded with info these days that unless it hits you between the eyes it goes unnoticed! I know that is what happens when I open my mail & there is a long list of stuff to read, I tend to gloss over a lot. Perhaps that is because I now live out of the BLPN area but anyway just thought more ‘promotion’ of the events may be a useful idea.

    Kind Regards, Irene Rasmussen

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. Hi Irene, If you want to know what to expect in a particular outing, I recommend you read the previous report(s) for that venue. These can be found on the BLPN website. Type in and enter the venue in the search box. New venues usually have a description of what to expect in the magazine and under Future Activities in the website. We are trying to cut back on the space we use in the magazine as the magazine costs are now almost prohibitive. We may be forced to go digital or else increase our subscription rates. I trust this information will be of use to you and answer your comments. Paul Bartho

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