Saturday 7th September 2019
After a few days of persistent rain, the weather cleared just in time for our outing. A group of thirteen birders met at the picnic area. Our immediate attention was drawn to a number of White-eared Barbets, there were nine or ten of them creating quite a commotion, chasing one another around the top of the trees. These birds seem to be doing well in all the reserves around Durban and are no longer an unusual inclusion on our bird lists.
While looking at the Barbets a small bird party also made its way through the area. The party included Sunbirds, both Amethyst and White-bellied, Black-bellied Starling, Southern Black Tit, both Square and Fork-tailed Drongo and Black Flycatcher. A juvenile Black Sparrowhawk then flew directly overhead. In the background Purple-crested Turaco were quite vocal and did a brief but spectacular fly-by.
We slowly made our way down the road, and there, we came across another bird party of mainly sunbirds, among them were Grey Waxbill, Cape White-eye and Black-backed Puffback. A few small antelope made a brief appearance; it took us a while to decide that they were in fact, young Bushbuck.
The next section produced Red-capped Robin-Chat and more Sunbirds, which including Olive and Grey, which as usual were heard but not seen. The grassland in the next section was fairly quiet with a few interesting butterflies, but not many birds. As the path descended toward the Dam, there was a large leafless Erythrina tree, which seemed lifeless, but with careful scrutiny produced the bird of the day, an African Emerald Cuckoo.
A pair of Amethyst Sunbirds were also quite active and seemed to be feeding their young in a nest, as they quickly moved in and out between the grass and the tree. A Rattling Cisticola was also seen there. A small flock of Spurwing Geese also flew by.
Here we spotted a female Klaas’s Cuckoo, a little far away, but quite content to sit and pose for photographs.
As we walked toward the dam, we came across a female Black Cuckooshrike, Yellow-bellied Greenbul and in the distance, Trumpeter Hornbill. With all the excitement around the Cuckooshrike, we almost missed a beautiful clump of Scadoxus puniceus in full flower.
The call went out for a raptor and above us juvenile Fish Eagle gave a beautiful display. At first, to some it seemed like an Osprey but when we looked at the photos it was confirmed, that it was in fact a young Fish Eagle.
On the dam, drying its wings was a lone Reed Cormorant and both Yellow and Village Weavers displaying their newly constructed nests. Those who ventured around to the opposite side of the dam had views of a Black Crake. Above the dam we once again had Sunbird activity, and some brief views of Yellow-throated Longclaw and Fan-tailed Widowbird and Yellow-fronted Canary.
At this point the wind started to pick up and so there was no activity on the top grassland. Along the road next to the top picnic site we found Dark backed Weaver, Collared Sunbird, Bar-throated Apalis and Green-backed Camaroptera.
Looking out across the grassland from “Roy’s bench” we had Little Bee-eater and more Fantailed Widows. Further along the road some were lucky enough to get a good view of a small flock of Green Twinspot feeding on the ground.
With the wind picking up, the emphasis became more focused on butterflies than birds, a number of special species were seen by the Butterfly enthusiast.
Back in the picnic area we reflected on a number of birds we expected to see but had not seen on our walk. These being; Common Fiscal, (which Sandi did see on her way out). White browed Scrub Robin, Cape Batis, Cape Wagtail, Spectacled Weaver and Brown-hooded Kingfisher.
After most people had left, a few of us did the “disabled loop” here we found Brown backed Honeybird, Red-backed Mannikin and a small herd of Impala.
All in all, an enjoyable walk with a total of sixty-five birds either seen or heard.