Umhlanga Lagoon

Saturday 7th March 2020

We arrived to find the gate locked! We were informed by the Breakers staff that the Reserve was closed to the public, due to flooding, which had created an electrical hazard. After consulting with the Reserve staff, we were eventually granted access at our own risk, which we duly accepted. We had no intention of going to the area that was flooded, so that was not a problem.

As we set off on our walk we were on the lookout for the Black-throated Wattle-eye, which is often found in the tree on the left of the path, just before the boardwalk starts. We were quickly rewarded, with both male and female birds.  

The boardwalk was relatively quiet compared to our previous outing to Umhlanga. A few Village Weavers were spotted and the expected call of the Little Rush Warbler, was soon heard, while Burchell’s Coucal could also be heard calling. Barn Swallows and Lesser-striped Swallows that are normally seen flying over the reed beds, were noticeable by their absence.  Cape Wagtail sat on the boardwalk in the sun.

Cape Wagtail – Terry Walls

A lone Yellow-billed Kite and a Woolly-necked Stork flew over.  

Woolly-necked Stork – Terry Walls

The dune forest, which was quite at first produced a bird party with a variety of birds. Here again we spotted Black-throated Wattle-eye. Included in the bird party, were Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Boubou, Yellow-bellied Greenbul. Sombre Greenbul and Terrestrial Brownbul. Red-capped Robin-chat, African Paradise Flycatcher, Southern Black Tit and a Fork-tailed Drongo, which hopped around, making it difficult to determine if it was not a Square-tailed. The ever present Green-backed Camaroptera also chirping away in the undergrowth. We also spotted a lone Banded Mongoose, which led to much discussion as to whether it was the instigator of the bird party.

Continuing to the beach, we came across many people and with all the activity, including people walking dogs, we decided not to venture any further onto the Beach.
Back across the boardwalk and into the coastal forest, it was very quiet. We concluded, this was not uncommon for this time of the year, when breeding season was complete, and most of the young had fledged. 

The next boardwalk was also quiet, with only Speckled Mousebird, a Grey Heron and Common Sandpiper seen.

Common Sandpiper – Terry Walls

Back in the dune forest on the second pathway to the beach, it was also quiet. A few of us opted to venture down to the Lagoon, which was not as busy with people, as the previous path was. This pathway is rather steep and sandy, so many of the group decided to call it a day.

Those who chose to venture on to the beach were rewarded with views of Blacksmith Lapwing, Three-banded and Common Ringed Plover and a Pied Wagtail. 

Barn and White-throated Swallows busked in the sun on the beach. 

Across the lagoon, were both White-breasted and Reed Cormorant drying out their feathers. 

Cormorants drying their feathers – Terry Walls

Over the Lagoon, on the far bank were a group of Pelican gathered in the sun. The Pelicans finally took flight, and we were able to confirm that they were indeed Great White. 

The highlight of the day for some, was a fly over, of an Osprey, a lifer for at least one in the group. 

Osprey – Noleen Turner

A lone African Pipit was also spotted in the grass patch between the sea and the lagoon.  On our return we had one Common Greenshank, and again one each of the plovers we had seen earlier. The low number of waders, even this late in the season was disappointing.

Report by Terry Walls

One Comment Add yours

  1. Michael smither says:

    Hi Terry. Thank you for the great post. I drove to Durban from Johannesburg to visit one of my factories in the area and stayed in Umhlanga at my resident BnB. On my walk in the morning along the prom close to the lighthouse a pair of falcons shot over my head with the one trying to most likely steal breakfast from the other. With feet entangled they both headed out to sea squalking at one another they were met by a third bird now atleast 200 meters out to sea. It was quite extraordinary. Which falcons are resident in the area. I have my suspicions but wondering what might be seen…

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