A Bluff Day

5th December 2020

This was my first experience at leading a walk and I was very keen to show off the Bluff and surrounds as it has produced some marvellous birds over the years and is – in my opinion – underexplored.

Bluff Nature Reserve

Despite the light rain and rather large explosion at the Refinery next door the previous day, it was a large group of brave and eager birders that arrived at the Bluff Nature Reserve at 7am in the morning. The group was divided in two and while Jane took the first group through the forest, I took my group into the hide. Birding from a hide takes time, and unfortunately the birding was rather slow on the drizzly morning. A pair of African Jacana flew passed us, and we had great sightings of Thick-billed Weavers and Southern Red Bishops as well as one female Redheaded Quelea. There were no signs of the African Rail, Black Crake or African Swamphen though. However, we had flyovers from the resident Black Sparrowhawk. One knows the birding is slow, however, when most of the excitement was given to some rather beautiful Painted Reed Frogs spotted on the nearby reeds. 

After an hour in the hide, we then walked through the forest and perimeter of the park, but once again the birding was slow being affected by the cooler wet conditions. Red-capped Robin-Chat, Amethyst Sunbird, Yellow-Bellied Greenbul and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird were the highlights from the forest as well as some very busy African Paradise Flycatchers. But once again the show was stolen by some very cute tree frogs, the bright green Natal Tree Frog, encountered on the walk. Our raptor count increased on the perimeter walk with a pair of African Fish Eagles perched in the forest opposite the wetland. Also, a male Red-headed Quelea was spotted before disappearing into the reeds. 

After the Bluff Nature Reserve, we headed to the mangroves and mudflats at the Durban Bay Bayhead Natural Heritage Site.

Bayhead Natural Heritage Site – Durban Bay

Some road closures after the refinery fire scattered us a bit but eventually we all arrived safely.

The walk through the rank vegetation surrounding the Mangroves yielded Rattling Cisticola, Brimstone Canary and Tawny-flanked Prinia. 

By the time we reached the mudflats, the sun had come out and the birds were much more active. We got Eurasian Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover and Terek’s and Curlew Sandpipers (my thanks to Ticky for bringing his scope, the Terek’s would’ve been very difficult to see without it) as well as many Little Egrets, Grey and Goliath Herons. 

Common and Greater Crested Terns, Grey-headed Gulls and Pinkbacked Pelicans added to the variety.

All in all, although it started quietly, the day was most enjoyable with some lovely birds being seen, especially at Bayhead. 

23 Species were seen at both Bluff Nature Reserve and Bayhead respectively bringing the total for the morning to 46 species.

Trip Report by Rowan Bartlett

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