We left on Sunday 19th July for a four day trip to a game farm, near Mgudu in Northern KwaZulu Natal. We had travel permits but were not stopped by the police. It is a hunting venue, situated in the bushveld, quiet and peaceful and the camp garden is beautiful at this time of the year when all the aloes are flowering.
On the first morning – very cold 5 degrees C – I went birding around camp. White-bellied and Scarlet-chested Sunbird were everywhere. There was a resident Bearded Scrub-Robin hoping around the chalets and a White-browed Robin-Chat in the trees above. Chinspot Batis and the Yellow-breasted Apalis were very busy in the Knobthorn, Senegalia nigrescens and a Black-headed Oriole was happily sitting on the large aloe.
We were able to go for long walks so we covered quite a large area of the farm. The birds were very good especially in the bushveld thickets and in the grassy areas along the road, lots of Red-billed Firefinch, Blue Waxbill and Green-winged Pytilia. The dams on the farm were a bit sterile but we did see in the little bushes along the bank Fairy Flycatcher and Grey Penduline-Tit. A Goliath Heron flew away as we approached the dam and two Three-banded Plover were on the muddy banks.
On one of our walks we saw three White-backed Vulture and an African Harrier Hawk. There are a lot of roads on the farm and we got a bit lost on the second day. Trying another road to get back to camp, we saw a Crowned Eagle in a dead tree. What a lovely surprise. It wasn’t a bird I would have thought you would see in the bushveld.
The water troughs dotted around the farm were great places to watch some of the common birds having a drink or bathing – Fork-tailed Drongo, Yellow-fronted Canary, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and Southern Black Flycatcher.
The animals were very skittish, even the guineafowl and Crested Francolin took off at a rate of knots when we saw them but the giraffe were quite happy to see us. Obviously, they are not hunted.
I saw fifty eight birds and could have probably seen more if our walks had been slower but I was glad to see as many as I did.
Report and Photos by Jenny Rix