6 March 2022
We had planned to meet at the New Germany Nature Reserve Car Park at 7:00am. However, I decided to arrive about 10 minutes before, but I was greeted to the sight of some eager birders already prepping themselves for the walk!
In all, a group of about 12 BeKZN members set off into the reserve. The weather played its part and we had sunny skies for the entire walk.
We decided to head out through the forest and up into the grassland slopes over-looking the reserve. We were treated to countless flybys of Lesser-striped Swallows, African Palm Swifts and Barn Swallows. The latter probably filling up the tank for the imminent trek northwards. It was an amazing experience having these little birds flyng along the grassland contours around us and just above our heads. You could almost reach out and high-5 them! Be sure to check out the video of the swifts and Swallow activity by clicking the link below.
Link to view the Swallow and Swift activity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TevhX1_BMFs
Then, a Long-Crested Eagle flew over and landed one top of a nearby tree and looked back over at the “mob” who were wielding binoculars and cameras pointed in his direction. I am sure he was seeing multiple reflections of himself in all the coated glasses pointed at him! This probably resulted in him deciding to take flight and across the reserve and perch on top of another tree.
So, we continued along path towards the other end of the grasslands. The path began to run down along a tree-lined riverine. At a point along this path, there was an opening in the bushes allowing us views up and into the shade of the trees. I scanned the branches with my binoculars and then got a brief glimpse of a green winged bird as it left a branch. Ah, Emerald Cuckoo! Oh, wait hold on, I managed to relocated it and boom… a Narina Trogan! Others began to scramble around to try and find it. Many got difficult to fair views of it and even a lifer for one of the members! It was only my second ever sighting, with the first being back in 2017!
It eventually disappearing into the tree canopy and we headed off through the riverine and out the other side. We trundled down to Kingfisher Pond where we managed to get distant views of a Knysna Turaco in a tree on the edge of the Reserve.
After a cautious and awkward walk through the marshy part of the forest, we ended up at the Hide where nothing much was happening. We then headed through the forest back towards the reserve exit.
Progress was pleasantly halted as a very confiding Blue Duiker appeared curiously made it’s way out onto the path, in between some of the birders. It even stopped and stared at two birders before it continued on with it’s slow and silent exploration of the forest. Be sure to check out the video of the duiker by clicking the link at the end of this report.
Link to the special Duiker interaction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZJPmtE1nrQ
I rate this non-bird related interaction as the Moment and Sighting of the Day! This was followed closely by the surprise sighting of the Narina Trogan.
We managed to get to 53 species for the walk. Another 4 were added to the list, on the drive out of the Reserve, to bring the total up to 57.
Species worth mentioning are:
Narina Trogan, Black Cuckooshrike, Knysna Turaco, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Klaas’s Cuckoo, Lesser Honeyguide, Cape Batis, Red-throated Wryneck, Long-crested Eagle and Crowned Eagle. A full list is included below.
Report by EJ Bartlett