5 June 2021
We met at 8am on a Saturday morning; a very respectable time to meet. In winter, it’s hardly worth setting off much earlier [Editor’s comment – although a few, including this editor/chair as one of the younger, older members may beg to differ-I do like my first light moments and dawn chorus – yes even in winter]. The morning was a little cool to start with but soon warmed up until we were all shedding layers of clothes and tying them around our waists.
Elena Russell, was our walk leader, but I was nominated to write this report. I really miss Elena as a regular leader; she used to lead the Saturday morning walks year after year for ages; so, I guess she deserves a break now. I’m sure I’m not the only one who learnt so much from her.
We had a good mix of oldies and newbies on the walk, two of whom were flower fundis.
I introduced myself to a young man, Lance, who told me this was his first bird club outing. Weren’t we all jealous when we found out his bird list is around 100? Several people had never been to New Germany Nature Reserve before. It is a lovely little reserve with a mix of grasslands and small forest sections; it also has a small dam but this is seldom productive.
We wandered through the wooded area then headed up the hill through the grasslands. African Paradise-flycatcher caught our attention as this is late in the year for them to still be around. Over-wintering probably. For those who haven’t heard this term, it refers to when a bird does not migrate when expected but sticks around during winter. This is more common with the intra-African breeding migrants, I believe. Klaas’s Cuckoo is another bird that is known to do this although some are resident in coastal KZN. Very wise birds, I would say; our climate is great in winter.
We continued and saw Streaky-headed Seedeater,
Black-bellied Starling and Amethyst Sunbird feasting on the aloes.
Black-collared Barbet dueted throughout the morning so anybody learning bird calls surely has that one under the belt now.
We stopped near the summit of the hill where there was much activity in the trees beyond the grassland. Bird of the day made its appearance – Grey Cuckooshrike; what a beauty. This bird is an altitudinal migrant so comes down from the interior in winter.
The grass lovers had a great time too; no, not smoking, inspecting and marvelling at the variety of grasses present.
We continued past the little dam and on to the bird hide. The bird hide is also not usually that productive but Little Bee-eater was also recorded. Some of us reminisced about the alligator that used to be there that has now been removed. It was always the subject of much hilarity.
As we headed back through the wooded area it was extremely wet underfoot but luckily planks had been placed through the puddles and we managed to get through with some helping hands.
Some had to leave early but most of us gathered at the picnic tables behind what used to be the aviary, drank coffee, marvelled at the glorious day and compiled the bird list. We recorded about 40 species if I remember correctly. The bird list is downloadable at the end of the report.
Thank you Heleen Els for all the lovely photographs.
Bird list kindly supplied by Sandi du Preez
Written by Penny de Vries