25 April 2021
An early start is always essential when visiting Darvil, and I was very happy that so many people (11 all in all) signed up for this walk, despite having to wake up and travel all the way through to Pietermaritzburg by 6.30am. It is perhaps a testament to the reputation of the place that so many people turned up.
We started with a walk to the top settling pool where we stood (at a good social distance) and scanned the pool and surrounding reeds. We were rewarded for our troubles with great views of Red-billed and Blue-billed Teal, Black Crake, Little Grebe and Malachite Kingfisher
The settling pools are surrounded by the vast lawns of Duzi Turf, and a quick scan yielded not only Blacksmith Lapwing, Egyptian and Spur-winged Goose and African Pipit, but also the first surprise of the day: a flock of White Storks.
Although the Summer raptors had gone, we still had good showings from Peregrine and Lanner Falcon, Long-crested Eagle and a juvenile Jackal Buzzard.
Walking to the bottom of the waterworks we were treated to the second surprise of the day. A rather large Water Monitor (not strictly speaking a bird, but a wonderful sighting nonetheless)
Scanning the surrounding rank vegetation, we were treated to a sighting of African Yellow Warbler. One of the birds that evaded us – despite us hearing it call throughout the area – was Red-faced Cisticola.
When we had finished the walk, we found some shade, set up our chairs and picnics (and some rather delicious home-made rusks) and kept adding to the list while sipping coffee – very civilised indeed!
We ended up with nearly 70 birds for the morning. My thanks to all who joined me.