Club Atlas Adventure #2
17 April 2021
The organised club outing to atlas pentads in the eThekwini municipality by Nicolette and Ticky Forbes unfortunately had to be brought forward to Saturday 17 April. I hate having to change dates but unfortunately a significant work commitment in Eshowe on Friday and Saturday 23-24 April made this move necessary. Apologies to those of you who had already booked for the 23rd but there will be other trips.
Unfortunately no other club members could attend so Ticky and I set off just before sunrise to atlas Pentad 2940_3100, our home pentad, which covers an area of approximately 56km2 and comprises suburban areas of La Lucia Ridge, Umhlanga Village and the Ridge, edge of Hawaan Forest, Mt Edgecombe Country Club Estate, Cornubia, Ottawa South, and Blackburn Estate.
Despite the weather seeming to be a bit drizzly and overcast at 05h00 by the time we got to first light at around 06h00 things were starting to settle with no wind and sunny skies.
Our route through the pentad took us north to the coastal section of Umhlanga village before heading north past Hawaan and then via Umhlanga Ridge, Ottawa and onto the Blackburn estate. This ensured all the representative habitats were covered during the time available which included a beach stop to look for gulls or terns, residential urban with artificial water bodies, cultivated land with sugar cane, remnant forest patches and secondary scrub and grassland.
The chill of autumn was noticeable in the early morning but with the fine day the birds were vocal and visible. A total list of 77 birds was recorded during the 5-6 hours spent atlassing.
We started by listening to the dawn chorus just outside the La Lucia Ridge Forest reserve (a private valley reserve maintained by the surrounding residential complexes) and recorded a host of urban and forest species including the ubiquitous Hadeda Ibis, Red-capped Robin-chat (who was vocalising well before dawn), Familiar Chat and Dark-capped Bulbul.
Far from the madding crowd…
We moved through the residential areas of lower Umhlanga before heading into the sugar cane plantations west of the Sibaya Complex.
These areas yielded a range of birds. Spectacled Weavers, Red-eyed doves and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds were active and calling and, despite the scruffy nature of some of the vegetation which remains between the sugar cane, we saw a host of other coastal scrub, wetland and grassland species.
We were also surprised to encounter at 08h15 what appeared to be a formal bus service running between Umdloti (or further north) and Blackburn village, on the dirt roads between all the open bush and cane fields – a surprising encounter but surprising encounters seem to be the order of the day on atlas trips. Those of you that know the story of the Farmer, the Mercedes and the Pig! will know what we are referring to.
The morning’s birding brought this pentad one step closer to turning green in 2021 as we have surveyed this area previously (18 January 2021). Another card submitted by a non-BE KZN club member brings the Full Protocol cards submitted in 2021 to a total of 3 with only one more needed to get it to the green milestone.
If you wish to see the progress of the changing colours of the pentads we now have our very own sub-project registered on the SABAP2 site which means you can view only the pentads which form part of our challenge area. If you change the SELECT YEAR box to show 2021 this will provide the challenge information. PLEASE NOTE THE SABAP2 SITE LOADS VERY SLOWLY SO YOU HAVE TO BE PATIENT AND GIVE THIS TIME.
See current and live information by following this link http://sabap2.birdmap.africa/coverage/group/15278_BEKZN_CMGE21
A bird list from the morning can be downloaded here: