Sappi Stanger | Mbozambo Wetlands

Sappi Stanger Mbozambo Wetlands

11 June 2022

We could not ask for a better day to do the walk around the Sappi Wetlands, there was not a breath of wind or a cloud in the sky and the temperature was already in the mid-teens when I left my home at 6am in the morning.

Early morning view over Mbozambo Wetland – EJ Bartlett

On arrival at the wetlands and driving along the sand road next to the wetlands to the meeting point, there was a light mist hovering over the wetlands giving off an eerie, mysterious view of the area. I planned to arrive ahead of the group and much to my surprise, all 23 participants for the walk had already arrived and were ready to go explore the wetlands.  We parked all the vehicles at the picnic site and after a brief introduction, the group was split up in to three groups.

View over the wetland – Ronnie Herr

The groups were led by Elton John Bartlett, Nols Turner and Nicolette Forbes and they proceeded in different directions. First up, was a good sighting of a Green-backed Heron (Straited Heron) and by the end of the day, a total of five Herons were seen – Grey, Goliath, Green-backed, Black-headed and the best of all Black-crowned Night Heron.

Green-backed Heron – Nols Turner

We managed to see four different Kingfishers – Giant, Pied, Malachite and Brown-hooded Kingfishers.

Malachite Kingfisher – Jonathan Hemson

The two viewing platforms, although at a precarious angle as a result of the recent floods, still provided decent views of the main water body of the wetlands and because of the high water level, there were not too many waders around.  We were fortunate to see three species of Teals, namely Cape, Red-billed and Blue-billed Teals, Yellow-billed Ducks were present, and a single African Black Duck made an appearance as well as Little Grebes and Spur-winged Geese.

Cape Teal – Poobalan Naidoo

Along the banks we got good sightings of Rufous-winged Cisticola, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Little Rush Warbler, Black Crake, African Jacana, Three-banded Plover, African Pied Wagtail, Black-winged Stilt and Cape Wagtail.

Black-winged Stilt – Poobalan Naidoo 

In the trees around the wetlands, a host of regulars made appearances such as Wattled Starlings, Black Saw-wing, Crested Barbet, Red-faced Mousebirds, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Purple-banded Sunbird and Scarlet-chested Sunbird just to name a few. We got a single fly by sighting of an African Fish Eagle as well as an African Spoonbill.

African Fish Eagle – Ronnie Herr
Black-crowned Night-heron
African Black Duck – Poobalan Naidoo
Rufous Winged Cisticola – Poobalan Naidoo

The three groups returned to the picnic area around 10:30am for refreshments and a chat of what everybody managed to see and by around 11:30am the participants said their goodbyes. All in all, a good time was had by all. In the next couple of months, when the water levels recede, the wetlands will regain its former glory with an abundance of waders, which is something to look forward to.

Total species seen / heard: 79

Report written by Ronnie Herr

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