18 June 2023
We planned to meet at the start of the Molweni Trail at 7:00am. However, I decided to arrive about 10 minutes before, but I was greeted to the sight of some eager birders already prepping themselves for the walk and tuning their ears in to the sounds of the Conservancy.
In all, a group of about 18 BeKZN members and 2 visitors. It was decided to split the group into 10-man packs. Since the trail was a loop, it was decided that the one group would tackle the one side of the ravine and the other group would head along the trail on the opposite bank.
The weather played its part and we had sunny skies for the entire walk. However, with the trail winding through mostly shaded forest habitat, the early morning temperatures did edge very close to single figure degrees Celsius, for the first half of the walk.
The walk was pleasant and the birding started off slow for the first 15 minutes and eventually we got the first of a fine list of specials being a very shy Lemon Dove. It was a very brief sighting, before it hopped over a fallen stump and out of sight, with only 2 or 3 of the group, including myself managing to get a glimpse. We tried to relocate it, but to no avail.
We continued the walk and could hear distant calls of the Knysna Turaco and then a curious call coming from a nearby thicket. After some analysis of the call, we managed to confirm that it belonged to a Chorister Robin-Chat, as we continued along the path, I and another birder saw a blur of a bird flittering in-between the thickets. We both referred to our bird apps to confirm our suspicions. Boom, a White-starred Robin! Unfortunately, only 2 of us managed to even get a glimpse of this pretty little bird. We managed a few more birds, adding African Goshawk, Crowned Hornbill and African Olive Pigeon to the list before reaching the waterfall (halfway point) for a short stop to enjoy the views.
Rob’s group had already arrived at the waterfall and after briefly listing what sightings could be expected on the return legs, we headed off in opposite directions.
Like the first part of the walk, the start of the return leg was rather quiet. This eventually changed when we came across a bird party. The bird party included Black Cuckooshrike, a Grey Cuckooshrike, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Square-tailed Drongo and brief glimpse of a Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher.
We eventually moved on and the birding went quiet again, with only the distant call of a Scaly-throated Honeyguide to keep the interest up and ears peeled. Then just when it seemed that all the birds had left the Conservancy, we came a across an Olive Woodpecker just above the trail. It was quality views for the birders who had passed the tree and could look up and see it clinging to and making its way up the tree trunk. It flew off just before the rest of the group could make it to the correct side of the tree.
There were a few more birds added to the list before we arrived at the end of the trail.
All in all, it was a very pleasant bird walk with a fairly low, but high quality list of birds which was submitted to SABAP2 for our contribution to conservation as Citizen Scientists.
Thank you, Rob, for stepping in and taking half of the group along the opposite trail.
Written by EJ Bartlett
Link to the rewarding view at the halfway mark:
Report by EJ Bartlett