BeKZN Sit In: Bluff Nature Reserve

17 February 2022

Thick-billed Weaver – Poobalan Naidoo

Arriving at the Bluff Nature Reserve early we had a half an hour wait before the gate opened.  It was great to see a visitor already there waiting and very eager to join a BeKZN activity.  The birds were very active around the gate area and starting from the ground up we saw a number of Bronze Mannikins, Yellow-fronted Canaries and a pair of Grey-headed Sparrow feeding on the grass seeds.  Spectacled Weaver crept about mid-stratum giving good views while Dark-capped Bulbul was very visible and vociferous.  It was interesting to have two of our all black birds alongside each other, namely a hawking family of Black Flycatcher and a pair of Fork-tailed Drongo and to easily compare them.  The bird of the moment had to be a passing Willow Warbler that was busy gleaning in the top branches of the tree overhanging the gate.  

We were soon joined by other members, old and new and it was great to welcome them all to the sit-in.  Jenny had been delayed by traffic so we headed off to the hide knowing that she would soon join us.  

The hide is quite overgrown and there is no channel anymore to be able to see the open water.  The reeds have created a perfect hiding place for water birds and while we could hear a number of birds scratching about and calling at times it was very difficult to see any activity. It became the perfect exercise in honing our listening skills.  We heard Black Crake, Common Moorhen, Little Rush Warbler, Lesser Swamp Warbler and a Rufous-winged Cisticola.

We noted that a number of reeds appear to have been woven together to create a platform, we wondered why this would have been done?  Could it be for a Moorhen to get a better view of the world around it or to do some sunbathing perhaps?? [Editors note – this is very often African Swamphen that will create platforms to display on...]

Reed structures – Poobalan Naidoo
Bronze Mannikin – Poobalan Naidoo

There was a fly over by a White-breasted Cormorant and a moorhen did do a quick dash from one side of the reeds to the other.  Southern Red Bishop appeared occasionally and of course busy Thick-billed Weaver kept going about their day.  

Thick-billed Weaver female front – Poobalan Naidoo
Thick-billed Weaver female back – P

Dragonflies which are normally in abundance were scarce but some we did see and which Jenny identified for us were Banded Groundling, Pantala and Common Citril.

Banded Groundling – Jenny Norman
Pantala – Jenny Norman
Common Citril – Jenny Norman

As per usual some of the sitters became walkers and Sandi kindly lead the troops around the lake.  The path is overgrown and difficult to navigate with very few views of the water.  It was decided that more time was spent looking where you were putting your feet than birding and so not much was seen but a fair amount was heard once again.  Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Brown-hooded Kingfisher and of course the haunting call of the African Fish Eagle.

A good time of about 3 hours was spent in the hide after which we decamped to the picnic area for refreshments and to see what was flying about there.  Olive Sunbird put in an appearance, there were a few Cape White-eyes and aCollared Sunbird in the trees.  Birding remained slow but there was lively discussion and debate to compensate.

The day was rounded off with a braai, Mike Roseblade was once again our braai master and a good day was had by all.  

Total species seen/heard: 36

Report written by Jane Morris

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