The morning started with only Jenny Norman and I (Jane Morris) arriving at 7.30am. The birds were also slow to show but made up for it with calls. Purple-crested Turaco welcomed us as we set up our chairs in an open area with some tall trees in the background that were catching the sun, dense vegetation for the skulkers and a grassy area for seedeaters to enjoy. Ros and Virginia arrived during the morning and so we had four participants.
The bird list was slow and we notched up species amostly on call. Fork-tailed Drongo with its harsh grating call, Red-capped Robin-Chat gave its squeaky gate call while the sharp willie-willie gave away the presence of a Sombre Greenbul. An Egyptian Goose honked as it flew down river out of sight from where we sat.
Barbets were well represented by Black-collared and White-eared Barbets and the diminutive Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird. Black-bellied Starlings warbled, whistled and clicked all about up but only offered tantalizing glimpse of a bird every now and then.
Collared Sunbird and Cape White-eye’s gleaned the branches of the Albizia adianthifolia tree under which we were sitting while a Tambourine Dove rushed past us and into the thickets before we could get a view of it. Thick-billed Weavers came to investigate us and gave us a good once over before flying away.
We appeared to be sitting on a Purple-crested Turaco fly way and the birds would call, bounce into view and scramble through the Albizia tree, glide with lovely red wings outstretched and dive into the thickets opposite us with alacrity.
As always, we did a short walk heading to the main picnic site and along to the North Family memorial site before heading to the river. The main picnic site was a sad and sorry sight with the lovely clumps of Strelitzia nicolai having been decimated for some reason known only to the powers that be.
The paths have changed considerably and there is no longer a bridge to cross over onto the far bank. The river has also changed its appearance and it is wide, flowing strongly with a large sandbank at the moment. Only a few Egyptian Geese were seen pottering about along the far bank.
A family of Terrestrial Brownbul had us scanning the forest floor for a view of them, we hunted for a Spotted Ground Thrush to no avail and a group of Southern Black Tit also managed to avoid being seen all the while tantalizing us with their harsh grating “zizzing” call.
Ross was the only one who saw the bird of the day, a Green Malkoha although we all heard its distinctive call later in the morning.
The morning ended at about 11.30am but not before we had a White-necked raven with its guttural “kwaak” gave us a flyby. Last but not least a lone, Yellow-billed Kite, my first for the season, circled lazily in the sky heralding the return of spring.
We had a list of 32 species, so not a big number but what we had kept us well entertained for the morning and we packed up and headed home at 11.30am.
Written and all photographs by Jane Morris