BeKZN Walks…Simbithi Eco-estate

23 April 2023

On the 23rd of April 2023 the BeKZN club had an outing at Simbithi Eco Estate. Simbithi had been in the “news” at the beginning of 2023 with a number of rarities being seen in the estate, we had a Common Cuckoo (juvenile), a Eurasian Nightjar, a Bronze-winged Courser and an out-of-range Lilac-breasted Roller (to name but a few). As much as I understand that providing the club members with sightings of rarities is completely out of my control, I still feel a sense of responsibility to provide the people that make the effort to join with something special. I had done a few recces during the week and was not particularly hopeful, the birds were missing, all the summer birds had gone and no sightings yet of the Spotted Ground Thrush or the Green Twinspots, we were between seasons. 

Once everyone had worked out how to follow a pin drop, we all met at the Fish Eagle Dam carpark, before we even headed out Nicky identified an African Goshawk calling its regular sharp call from way up in the sky. There was a fantastic turnout with over 24 members so we decided to split into two groups and Dael and I would each play tour guide for the morning. Fortunately, Simbithi did not disappoint, we had a couple of people atlassing and between the two groups we got to 60 birds on a three hour walk around the Tamboti trail, the Tamboti trail is my favourite morning loop as the trail takes you to the front part of the estate that gets the morning sun. 

Black-collared Barbet – Brian Roberts
White-eared Barbet – Brian Roberts
Crested Barbet – Brian Roberts
Little Bee-eaters – Brian Roberts
Yellow-breasted Apalis – Brian Roberts

The lowlight of the morning for me was when the group was investigating a cacophony of alarm calls, mainly Dark-capped Bulbuls, Yellow-bellied Greenbuls and Village Weavers. I wandered off down the trail assuming (never assume) that there was a snake or a monkey in the tree that was causing the birds to make such a racquet. Next thing I heard “its an Owl, an African Wood Owl!!” This would be a lifer for me and to get a lifer in the estate where I live is always very satisfying. Well, no luck, I think all twelve people in the group saw the Owl except me. We hung around a bit, but we could not find it, I still haven’t ticked the African Wood Owl.

White-faced Duck – Brian Roberts
Reed Cormorant – Brian Roberts

Besides the Owl there was no specific “wow” species we saw but to see 60 species in a morning walk must go down as an extremely successful outing. After the walk a majority of the members went for a coffee at the local coffee shop, I took a couple of people to the other side of the estate to see our resident male Lesser Moorhen, and he didn’t disappoint, with a couple of people ticking him as a lifer. 

Lesser Moorhen – Brian Roberts

All in all it was a great morning out, hopefully we can do the same again in the summer or next year.

 Written by Brian Roberts

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