Springside Nature Reserve

Outing to Springside Nature Reserve
Saturday 1st December, 2018

Report by Terry Walls

The Springside Nature Reserve, proclaimed in 1948, is situated in Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal. It conserves 21 ha of forest, grassland and wetland, and is managed by the eThekwini municipality and Hillcrest Conservancy. It was developed jointly by the Wildlife Society and the Hillcrest town board. (Wikipedia)

In Springside Nature Reserve you will find KwaZulu-Natal Sanstone Sourveld – classified as an endangered vegetation type. The Springside Nature Reserve has one of the last remaining relatively unspoilt areas of Sourveld Grassland in Hillcrest. Here you will also find 246 wild flower species, 173 bird species, 75 tree species, 11 mammal species and 10 reptile species.(show me.co.za)

Following a weather report of overcast sky and gusty winds, we were pleasantly surprised with a mildly overcast sky, and a slight breeze.

Fuftails, both Red-chested and Buff-spotted, calling from the reedbed opposite the car park, were first to greet us, along with the familiar call of a Black-headed Oriole.

We split into two groups of roughly ten people, one led by David Swanepoel and the other by Elena Russel

In Davids group. We were looking out for the Broad-tailed Warbler, which we heard in the grassland.

The fist interesting bird seen was a Dark-capped Yellow Warbler which briefly moved out of the cover of the riverine thicket to show itself.

Next was a fleeting view of a Lesser Honeyguide.

Sandi spotted a Long-crested Eagle high in a dead Gum tree. It flew directly over us, and we were able to identify it as a male.

Long-crested Eagle – Mike Stead

Other interesting sightings were: Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Southern Red Bishop, Lazy Cisticola.

Greater Double-collared Sunbird – David Swanepoel

Highlight from Elena’s group was a bird party feasting on caterpillars. The party included Grey-headed Bush-shrike, Dark-backed Weaver and many others.

Dark-backed Weaver – Mike Stead

Most of us had a good view of the Pale Morph Booted Eagle.

Pale morph Booted Eagle – Mike Stead

As a finale, an African Crowned Eagle did a fly by with its unfortunate juvenile Hadeda Ibis prey.

African Crowned Eagle – Mike Stead

Some other birds and nature seen:

Leslie Frescura presented Elena with a gift in recognition and thanks for the outings she has taken over many years and all the work she has put into them.

We ended the day with our customary toasted sandwiches prepared by John and Marion, Peter and Frankie with the ingredients generously donated by Elena. A special thank you to all involved.

Elena was grateful to all for contributions toward the Springside Nature Reserve. We managed to raise R 430.50 which George has informed us will go toward removing the ever present invasive plants.

A total of 74 birds were seen or heard. Click here to see the list.

Terry Walls

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Kruger Part I – Wakkerstroom

Kruger Part I

Wakkerstroom

Report by Paul and Sally Bartho

11 to 12 November 2018

Wakkerstroom Cathedral

Yes I know – Wakkerstroom is nowhere near the Kruger National Park. But we wanted a stay over to break the journey from Howick to Malelane. We drove over 300 kms in just under 4 hours and we had a further 380 to Malelane so this was a good place to stop over in particular for a bit of birding.

The cottage accommodation at Birdlife South Africa, Wakkerstroom was very reasonably priced and comfortable to boot– a bonus. Well worth spending time there in future and taking a guide to see the local specials – Botha’s and Rudd’s Larks, Blue and White-bellied Korhaan, Yellow-breasted Pipit to name a few.

We arrived early – at midday – so we were able to explore the wetland area next to the town during the afternoon.

The wetlands are fairly extensive and full of wildlife – predominantly birds. Which contrasts markedly with all the dams we passed on the way to Wakkerstroom.

During the afternoon we identified 59 different bird species – click here to see the list.

Wakkerstroom Wetlands and town map

Noticeable were the many African Snipes on the mudbanks beside the road leading up to the bridge close to the hides.

African Snipe

Pictures of other waterbirds photographed.

On a drive out of town towards Piet Retief (R543), we came across some unusual mammal species – Sable to start with then some we had not seen before and took a long while to identify.

Can you identify them?

The following morning we left early and arrived at Malelane Camp at midday. Previously we had to check in at Berg-en-dal but now check in is at the gate when you enter the Kruger Park – a sensible and welcome change.

Paul and Sally Bartho

Wakkerstroom Hill

Kruger Part 2 Malelane Birding to follow.