Report by Jane Morris and Sandi du Preez
24 February 2019
Ten birders in total gathered for this new type activity, a group of 6 were sedentary and stayed close to their chairs and a group of 4 were the more active crowd and headed out on a 4 hour walk around the reserve.
Sedentary Group report:
We settled ourselves on the top level of the main parking area at Stainbank, with the sun behind us and a view of the vegetation slowly revealing itself as the sun caught the tops of the trees.
We had views of Purple Turaco flitting through the trees, barbets were vociferous, and we saw Black-collared, White-eared Barbets and a lovely little Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird entertained us by gleaning from the trees in front and above us. A pair of Ashy Flycatchers also gave us a good view.
Some in the group managed to garner some energy and did the circuit around the disabled trail. It was a quiet reflective morning with zebra munching alongside us and was much enjoyed by the group that participated.
Our bird list can be seen by clicking here.
This group was kindly led by Sandi du Preez who has submitted the following.
Ros and I were joined for a walk through the reserve by Ben, a very experienced birder who has just relocated to the Highway area from Gauteng, and Zach, a teenager with an excellent knowledge of birds and butterflies and many aspects of nature.
The trees bordering the start of the grassland area gave us some good birding with White-eared Barbets, Southern Black Tits, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Fork-tailed and Square-tailed Drongos amongst others. A Black-bellied Starling swooped down and snatched a dragonfly right in front of us – its breakfast sorted!
In the grassland were Yellow-throated Longclaws, Rattling and Zitting Cisticola, Bronze Mannikins and Fan-tailed Widowbirds. A Narina Trogon called in the distance.
Closer to the dam the delightful Little Bee-eaters were plentiful. There was nothing swimming on the dam but suddenly a Little Bittern flew up from the reeds and landed for us to get fairly good views. Definitely the star of the day and a lifer for Zach.
Scanning the water’s edge, we got a Black Crake, a juvenile Common Moorhen, and a Malachite Kingfisher. Bronze and Red-backed Mannikins were active in the grasses and reeds as well. Then a solitary Egyptian Goose flew over and landed with a splash in the water. It seemed to also demand some of the attention that we were giving to the Little Bittern and repeatedly got out of the water and splashed back in again!
We took a walk to the Wilderness Leadership School buildings as I wanted to show the others the Wahlberg’s Epauletted Fruit bats that Zach and I had seen flying around the buildings the previous day. The bats were not flying but we saw a whole bunch of them hanging from the rafters – quite spectacular!
The birding in this area was quite impressive as we encountered some bird parties with Southern Black Tits, Collared Sunbirds, Cape Batis, Bar-throated and Yellow-breasted Apalis, Black-backed Puffback, Cape White-eyes etc. A gorgeous Green-backed Camaroptera entertained us by hopping on the branches out in the open in sunlight, showing off its lovely green back!
Walking back along the main road past the top picnic area we thought we saw a Lemon Dove but disappointingly it turned out to be a Red-eyed Dove behaving very much like a Lemon Dove.
After tea I took a drive to the bottom picnic site to show Zach the area and to see if there was anything interesting. On the road back towards the gate we spotted a little group of Grey Waxbills – a nice ending to a really super outing.
The cumulative count for both groups was 72 birds. See bird list by clicking here.