Saturday, 3rd January 2020
This reserve has traditionally become the choice of reserve for our first Saturday outing of the year, and this year was no exception. We had a large turnout of members, all keen to open their year lists with some good sightings. Fortunately, we had enough leaders to split the group into smaller numbers.
Umbogavango Nature Reserve is a regional conservation success story. The reserve was first established, when both storm water and AE&CI industrial wastewater canals, were converted into a series of dams. These water bodies are home to African Fish Eagle, Egyptian Geese, African Jacana and Blacksmith Lapwing.
The dams are surrounded by both Indigenous and commercial forest areas. Two pathways meander through a variety of habitat and include bird hides overlooking the dams. These pathways are the haunt of Barbets, Woodpeckers and Thrushes.
Across the wetlands Little Bee-eater hawks and Yellow-billed Kite sits out on the snags.
A lot of members were lucky enough to find a pair of Grey Waxbills building a nest close to the pathway. The birds were unperturbed by the constant attention of birders and continued the task at hand throughout the morning.
The group I was in, set off through the forest area and as one would expect, a variety of birds were heard but not seen. Having said that, a Tambourine Dove, normally a shy bird, was seen out in the open, seemingly undisturbed by all the attention it received.
The highlight for me was the second bird hide, where despite the bottleneck of birders, waiting for their turn to view, we were still able to get nice views of the Malachite Kingfisher, Reed Cormorant and Moorhen.
Both Fish Eagle and Burchell’s Coucal had been heard calling all morning and we were soon rewarded with wonderful sightings of both species, along with Red Bishop in their bright red breeding plumage.
On the last leg of the walk, the amazing sight of a Long-crested Eagle flying directly over us, calling loudly with its distinct cry, was a suitable end to the walk.
Report written by: Terry Walls and Jane Morris
Edited by Nicolette Forbes – Thanks to Jenny Stead for providing so many photos for this trip report.