17 NOVEMBER 2021
Donated by the Johnson and Hickman families in memory of relatives killed during World War 2, this 7,2-hectare park in the heart of Kloof has a lot going for it bird-wise. That’s because it is has wetlands, grasslands and riverine forests with the bonus of having not one, but two streams running through it. Prior to 2005, invasive alien plants infested much of the park, mainly in the wetlands. However, Kloof Conservancy championed their removal, with help from wetland specialist Richard Winn and a team from eThekwini Metro, who own the property.
Over the last few years, the Metro upgraded the fencing, car parks and pathways, making it easy to walk around and see the different habitats at close quarters. Kloof residents chipped in with indigenous tree donations to supplement the luxuriant forest, which now boasts a healthy population of 49 species. Well-established exotics such as the towering grove of liquid ambers, and some large Azalea shrubs were spared the axe – to the benefit of the many forest-dwellers that can be found therein. A few Eucalypts are also present.
On the day of the walk there were only 2 pairs of BEKZN eyes and ears to enjoy the cool, damp weather. An alate hatch in the road leading to the park brought in several species, including a Dark-backed Weaver and Woolly-necked Stork. We were greeted by a trio of very bedraggled, Black-collared Barbets in the central car park. The idea was to walk the perimeter of the park, and then make a loop around the wetland and forest adjacent to Douglas Road. The bullrushes in this area and that next to Buckingham Road were festooned with Thick-billed Weaver nests:
The males outnumbered the females and were desperately fluttering their wings in a vain attempt to draw attention to their most intricate weavings.
Calls of the Little Rush Warbler and Green-backed Camaroptera could be heard.
We then proceeded uphill around the south-western side, past the bush clump dominated by a magnificent wild fig, where you get a view of the whole park. Here we saw Fork-tailed Drongo, Black Flycatchers, Yellow-fronted Canaries, Black-headed Orioles, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Speckled Mousebirds and to our great delight, a Red-throated Wryneck on the trunk of a dead tree, in full view. As we approached the river, a pair of Purple-crested Turacos flew over, scarlet wings resplendent against the green foliage.
Hawking over the grassland we could see some Yellow-billed Kites, probably hoping for remnants of the alate hatch earlier this morning. These were followed by a criss-crossing of Red-wing Starlings, Trumpeter Hornbills, Amethyst Sunbirds and the odd, Black-Bellied Starling.
We crossed the river using the stone bridge and cautiously made our way to the lone raffia palm.
Here a vocal gathering of Village Weavers had made or were making nests, using bullrush material from the adjacent wetland, rather than using strips from the raffia palm fronds. They were also seen foraging in the Strelitzias along the river.
After a short walk, again admiring the Thick-billed Weavers in the bullrush beds, we went through the liquid ambers, all the while hearing the cooing of Laughing and Red-eyed Doves and seeing the occasional Olive Thrushfossicking amongst the fallen leaves. The Hadeda Ibises also did not go unnoticed…
There were only a couple of dog walkers present (at weekends it is an immensely popular venue for them), and overall, it was a very pleasant visit.
Report by Mark Liptrot