BeKZN Goonies go to Botanical Gardens 

4 February 2023

The morning started off hot and humid at Durban Botanic Gardens, as we were greeted by seemingly hundreds of Egyptian Geese on the lawns. A group of BeKZN juniors (or Goonies – Goonie is the term for a juvenile albatross) and other keen ‘junior’ birders were raring to go, as we made our way slowly around the butterfly garden with its range of indigenous trees and plants. 

After ticking off a few of the more common birds, we enjoyed an aerial display of numerous swifts and swallows. Unfortunately, the excitement was short lived as we noticed a mob of at least 6 House Crows flying overhead.

The Botanical Garden lake

As we made our way towards the main dam, the group was quick to spot Southern Red Bishop and Thick-billed Weaver perched on lotus flowers. The kids and adults enjoyed their antics and we spent a while enjoying the sighting.

Southern Red Bishop (male)
Southern Red Bishop (female)

In the trees surrounding the dam we were treated to stunning views of Pink-backed Pelicans, African Spoonbills, Black-headed Herons, and Sacred Ibis.

Black Sparrowhawk landed close to the dam, providing us with great views. We also spotted a Palmnut Vulture overhead in the distance. One of the highlights of the morning was the moment the Malachite kingfisher flew in and landed on the lotus flowers, giving us brief but excellent views.  The sound of a Diederik Cuckoo caught our attention as we walked around the dam, and we were lucky enough to enjoy great views of the bird, which was later joined by a female. The birds were eventually chased off by some weavers. Back at the dam, a pair of Common Moorhen showed themselves from the thickets and eventually gave us great views in the middle of the dam.  A Grey Heron was also present at the dam which gave us a nice comparison with the larger Black-headed Heron perched in the trees above the dam.

Grey Heron

As we continued through the Botanic Gardens, we encountered numerous Southern Black Flycatchers, a Golden-tailed Woodpecker, and our highlight of the day, an African Pygmy Kingfisher towards the top of the gardens. 

Photo 5 Spotting the African Pygmy Kingfisher

We also came across an Olive Sunbird feeding on an early flowering Halleria lucida. On their way back to the dam, some of the group members encountered the Black-throated Wattle-eye and Lanner Falcon.  With the temperature rising and humidity levels high, we called it a day after a great morning at Durban Botanic Gardens.

Written by and all photographs taken by Marco Franchini 

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