10th October 2020
The first BLPN walk since lockdown began on an overcast day with a hint of rain in the air and chilly breeze that blew. This did not deter the eager birders who had signed up for the mornings birding.
As per the ‘new normal’ we had to limit our numbers. Unfortunately Mike Roseblade had to step down as a leader at the last minute but luckily Penny de Vries stepped up to assist. This meant we were able to take 9 birders in each group. It was great to see the interest shown but sad to have to turn down people once the numbers were reached.
We set off just after 6.30am with Penny taking the high road that passes over the hill while I took the low road that runs along the edge of the vlei area below the dam.
The normal busy lower road was very quiet as the birds had obviously read the weather reports and they were not inclined to come out and show themselves. The normal suite of barbets was absent apart from a pair of White-eared Barbet that came into the dead tree along the path and one Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird that called but was didn’t show very well. The vlei area hosted a single Burchell’s Coucal and very little else.
Sunbirds were heard but did not sit still for a viewing and the Strelitzia nicolai, which are normally a hive of activity were also strangely devoid of birds. Southern Black Flycatcher and Fork-tailed Drongo were both seen which gave us the opportunity to compare the two very nicely. A White-browed Scrub-Robin was heard calling by my group and seen by Penny’s group.
The dam was the most rewarding with weavers of all sorts busily building nests. Thick-billed Weaver males were weaving their intricately woven masterpieces while the females watched.
Village Weavers were noisily hanging about under nests and creating mayhem while the beautiful Yellow Weavers stunned us with really close up confiding views as they flew in and out with nesting material.
Black Crake popped only his head out of the grasses at the edge while a lone little grebe sat as still s could be in the hope it would not be spotted.
Not to be forgotten was the Painted Reed Frog we saw sitting sunning itself on a bulrush, while a single reed cormorant completed the picture.
Heading back out onto the grassland Yellow-billed Kites wheeled about in the sky and Rattling Cisticola, Yellow-fronted Canary and Yellow-throated Longclaw all sat atop the bushes on the horizon. Stopping at Roy’s bench we took a moment to say “hi” before heading along the road through what used to be forest but is now quite open habitat. It was equally quiet here although we heard Sombre Greenbul, Southern Boubou, Golden-tailed Woodpecker and Black-backed Puffback calling.
An African goshawk was clicking overhead and then appeared flying quiet low affording us great views.
We then headed back to the car park where there was a pop up coffee shop and we were able to do the bird lists and enjoy a good cup of coffee while chatting about all things birding.
It was wonderful to be able to get out and connect with like minded folk once again and I hope the morning was enjoyed by all who attended.