Bisley Valley Nature Reserve, Pietermaritzburg
21 January 2018
Report by Dave Rimmer
The BPLN Sunday outing for January was held on the 21st where nine birders joined me at Bisley Valley Nature Reserve in Pietermaritzburg. The group started assembling at the entrance gate from 6.15am and wasted no time in starting to tick off the birds whilst we waited for the late-comers. First birds of the day included Diederik and Klaas’s Cuckoo, Amethyst Sunbird, Barn Swallow, Rufous-naped Lark, Cape Glossy Starling and African Palm Swifts.
We then proceeded down to the resource centre, parked the cars and headed up the eastern side of the reserve in the direction of the reservoir.
Bisley Valley being a prime spot for bushveld birding close to Durban, our target birds for the day were Acacia Pied Barbet, Common Scimitarbill and Brubru. And they did not disappoint as we had good views of all of them within the first couple of hours.
Initially the birding was slow due to poor light, and those that we did see tended to be quite distant making photographic opportunities difficult. By the time we got up to the reservoir the list was close to 50 species, including Southern Boubou, Willow Warbler, Familiar Chat, Southern and Black-crowned Tchagra, Chinspot Batis, African Firefinch, Fiscal Flycatcher, Neddicky, and Dark-capped Yellow Warbler.
One bird sadly gave us only brief views. After it disappeared, both David and I had the same thought that it was possibly a Common Whitethroat – but we left it off the list as unconfirmed. A pity – that would have been a lifer for many, myself included.
Beyond the reservoir is some good grassland habitat which afforded us views of Long-tailed Widowbird
Common Waxbill, African Pipit, and a Plain-backed Pipit.
By now we were two hours into the walk, the sun was getting warm so we started to make our way back down to the cars. En route we picked up on Rattling Cisticola, Red-throated Wryneck, Streaky-headed Seedeater, Kurrichane Thrush, Violet-backed Starling and Brimstone Canary.
Following a brief break for refreshments, we carried on through the western side of the reservoir down to the small dam with the bird hide at the bottom. This gave us our bird of the day – Black Cuckoo, along with Red-backed Shrike, Yellow Weaver, Little Grebe, Green Wood-hoopoe, White-bellied Sunbird and an African Fish Eagle. We called it a day at 11.30 am finishing off with a final tally of 86 species for the day. Click here for a full species list for the day.
Many thanks to regulars Penny de Vries, Cheryl King, Vauneen Kerr Wilson, David and Tania Swanepoel, along with newcomers Tyron Dall, EJ Bartlett and Barbara Cloete, and last but not least my birding buddy Penny for venturing out for the day, as well as sharing with us some of your photos included herewith.
One of the rewards of leading outings like this one is being able to grow the life lists of those taking part, and this particular outing didn’t disappoint with three birders bagging lifers. Congrats to
Tyron Dall – 5 Lifers (Black Cuckoo, Common Scimitarbill, Brubru, Plain-backed Pipit, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler)
EJ Bartlett – 4 Lifers (Black Cuckoo, Brubru, Plain-backed Pipit, Southern Tchagra)
Vauneen Kerr Wilson – 2 Lifers (Acacia Pied barbet, Familiar Chat)
Yours in birding,