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