BeKZN Conservation | van Riebeek Wetland bird counts

14 February 2023

Early on Saturday morning 14 January, Steve Davis led another bird survey at van Riebeeck Park with Anneli’s support. An enthusiastic group of members of BeKZN joined this conservation initiative.

Read more about the
van Riebeek Park Restoration Project


Arnia van Vuuren, who until her death served as Conservation Coordinator on the BeKZN Committee, previously provided monitoring information regarding VR Park to the Biodiversity Management Department.  This project has been developed by eThekwini Municipality as an offset area for the benefit of the people of the South Durban basin to replace the green lung lost in the eradication of the wetland flora and fauna of the Clairwood racecourse. 
BeKZN has been fortunate enough to have well known birder and author, Mr Steve Davis step into the role as Conservation Coordinator on the 2022 committee and he has begun monitoring the birds of VR Park.  In this regard he has produced an excellent quarterly report which is attached.  BeKZN hopes to maintain this collaboration with eThekwini Municipality and will endeavour to continue to provide information to monitor this important project. 

Even at 6 am, it was already getting warm and very humid, but at least there were some birds about. Grassland species noted were Southern Red Bishop, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Levaillant’s and Rattling Cisticolas and Yellow-throated Longclaws. Among the aerial feeders were Little Bee-eaters, Barn and Lesser Striped Swallows, and Little, White-rumped and African Palm Swifts. The usual Spur-winged Geese and Black-headed Herons flew over, but no other water birds. The wetland is now quite overgrown with the alien Sesbania bispinosa dominating. There is probably surface water there but not much in the open. We also took a stroll through the rank vegetation along the overgrown path to the coastal forest patch, passing by numerous cat’s whiskers (Clerodendrum glabrum) in full bloom. We also found an interesting flower with a very dark purple, nearly black, flower, that is a member of the pea family, Purple Bush-bean (Macroptilium atropurpureum), unfortunately also an alien. We finished off with a stroll next to the cricket pitch, where the resident African Pipitswere foraging as usual. 

A nice turnout of interested people, with a bird list of 53 species in the end. New species to my van Riebeeck Park list were Yellow-bellied Greenbul in the forest and Cape Weaver near the wetland. Thanks to Richard Boon for identification of the Sesbania and the Macroptilium and to Anneli Mynhardt for taking the photographs.

On the boardwalk, nicely grassed.
Little Bee-eater
Female Southern Red Bishops feeding on the abundant grass seed
The male Red Bishop were more interested in showing off among the Typha capensis bullrushes
Male Fan-tailed Widowbird showing its fan tail
Small group of Spur-winged Geese
White-rumped Swift – note forked pointed tail
On the trail
Cat’s whiskers
Spotting birds from the overgrown trail
Black-headed Heron – note the diagnostic 2-tone underwing, matching the 2-tone neck
Crossing the cricket field looking for the short grass specialists
African Pipit
Purple Bush-bean
Sesbania spinosa, an alien invasive species starting to take over

Report by Steve Davis with photographs by Anneli Mynhardt

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