Giba Gorge – Birding at last!

On a glorious but chilly day we (Jane & Mike Roseblade) arrived at Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park at 7:45am and proceeded up the purple trail towards the dams and waterfall.  It is very easy walking and comfortable from a Covid-19 perspective as there are very few people about apart from the odd cyclist that whizzes past so maintaining social distance is easy.  There is a R 15.00 entrance for birders and this is money well spent.

Cape Wagtail

We were greeted by a Cape Wagtail in the parking lot and Collared, Greater-Double Collared, White-bellied and Amethyst Sunbirds were very busy feeding in the Strelitzia nicolai along with a vociferous Spectacled Weaver.  Village Weavers appeared to think summer had arrived as they were coming into full breeding plumage and were industriously building nests. 

Village Weaver very busy building
Village weaver female

Once on the trail we came to a fruiting Pigeonwood, Trema orientalis, full of a feast of Forest Canaries, this is not a bird I have personally connected with often and we were delighted by stunning views as the birds darted about feeding.  This is where my camera battery decided to die with the best birding yet to come – a good lesson to always carry a spare battery! 

Forest Canary in a fruiting Pigeonwood, Trema orientalis

Once we came out into the open at the two small dams we saw a Black Cuckooshrike female, a gorgeous bird with her distinctive barring and bright yellow outer tail feathers. She was soon joined by a stunning male with a lovely brilliant yellow gape and shoulder. The female did have competition though, as we soon discovered that there were at least two other female birds about.   No sooner had we had great views of them than a bevy of Grey Cuckooshrike came along.  No fewer than four birds creeping about and giving us great views.  They seemed to follow us around as we birded the area around the dams.   Malachite Kingfisher, African Darter, Burchell’s Coucal and the ubiquitous Egyptian Goose were making use of the reeds around the dam while a Klaas’s Cuckoo was very confiding in the overhanging trees.  

A view over the dam

The waterfall yielded a pair of Mountain wagtails, Grey Waxbill were enjoying a feast of alien bug weed and a stunning male Emerald Cuckoo was the final cherry on top of an amazing birding morning. 

Believe it or not Mike and I had never been to Giba Gorge Mountain Bike Park and now we are seriously asking ourselves why!!

Report and photos by Jane Morris

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