Sunday 11th March 2018
Report by Jane Morris
At 6.30am on Sunday 11th March 2018 a group of 20 birders gathered at the farm dam just before the entrance to Cumberland Nature Reserve. The dam yielded a few species but as the water level was high there were no waders and herons visible. An African Black Duck mooched around on the far side and looked rather odd to many of the group.
A Grey Crowned Crane did us the honour of alerting us with a call before doing a magnificent fly past down to the fields in the distance.
A Long-crested Eagle perched on a post and a diminutive Malachite Kingfisher darted among the reeds.
There were a number of Willow Warbler in the trees around the dam and we wondered if they were gathering for migration as they were so plentiful. Cape White-eyes also darted amongst the reeds.
We then proceeded into Cumberland proper which never fails to delight and always produces the goods.
Before we set off, a cuppa was needed and some birding was done in the picnic area.
A creepy spider on one of the loo doors put off several using the loo.
We planned to do the walk from the picnic site down to Horse Shoe cottage. Mike took his group via the environmental centre and down into the valley while I took the route along the cliff top and down to Horse Shoe bend. Here are some of the birds seen in Mike’s group.
The cliff tops were very rewarding with Swee Waxbill gracing the waterfall.
We had good views of several raptors, Crowned Eagle, Black Sparrowhawk, and a dainty Little Sparrowhawk.
White-necked Raven was vocal and visible. Other good sightings included Mocking Cliff Chat and Cape Rock-Thrush.
The day was extremely hot, a large percentage of my group sensibly decided to take the high road back to the picnic site. Prior to their desertion we spotted an odd looking creature swaying on a stem over the path. A close look with inverted binoculars identified it as a spider. The legs can just be made out in the picture if you look closely.
Then we spotted a bird which to date remains unidentified despite the photo – a Chat/Flycatcher?
Three intrepid birders carried on down the low road into the valley, this is a lovely meandering path where we searched in vain for the Red-billed Oxpeckers on the browsing giraffe.
Amongst the others Red-backed Shrike was seen and Black-crowned Tchagra was heard calling.
We were lucky as John Benn, the custodian of Cumberland, arrived at the Horse Shoe cottage as we were leaving and so we got a lift out of the valley. Mike and his group were not as fortunate and limped home in the heat, tired and weary.
The morning ended in the shade under the Vachellia Siberiana doing our bird list for the morning. This yielded a total of 111 species (click here to see the list) by the time we left the D408 on our way home.
(Note that the bird list was commenced from the D408 turn off and includes the dam).
Thank you to David Swanepoel and Paul Bartho for the photo contributions.