BeKZN walks…Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve

Sunday 20th August 2023

A red-backed Mannikin feeding on grass seeds – Robyn Wainwright

After a week of terrible winter weather, we were treated to a perfect sunny and windless day for birding. The reserve is still a little tricky to get to as the Coedmore Road bridge hasn’t been repaired but is definitely worth a visit and is reasonably well maintained.

There are a number of well-maintained pathways through the grasslands, ideal for birding – Rob McLennan-Smith

We had a group of ten who met up in the car park where 23 species were seen in the first half hour including being entertained by two juvenile Black Sparrowhawk flying overhead repeatedly and noisily harassing their parents.

Black Sparrowhawk – Stuart Clarke

We started through the adjacent forested section with numerous Purple-crested Turaco, Yellow-bellied Greenbul and Square-tailed Drongo calling loudly. After the forest we traversed the grasslands and were pleased to see a number of Yellow-billed Kite signaling spring around the corner.

The forest edges in the early sun were full of birdlife – Rob McClennan-Smith

At the picturesque dam the Village Weaver colony was very busy with birds building their new nests and even a Yellow Weaver in the reeds opposite. An African Darter, Striated Heron and Reed Cormorant completed the waterbird group.

Yellow Weaver – Robyn Wainwright

After the dam we spent time in the second grassland where Little Bee-eater were flitting about, a Yellow-throated Longclaw and Cape Grassbird were seen with an African Harrier Hawk sallying overhead. We went back into the forest to look, unsuccessfully, for the Spotted Ground Thrush. A bonus was hearing the call of a Lemon Dove but unfortunately we had no visuals.

A very keen and knowledgeable Nathan van der Meulen doing some bird ID with his dad Anthony – Rob McClennan-Smith

On the road back past the Coedmore Castle lined by immense yellowwoods and other forest trees we were treated to a wonderful sighting of a male Narina Trogon who posed nicely for photos – a lifer for a few in our group. 

Narina Trogon – Stuart Clarke

Close to the stream we came across a group of Grey Waxbill on the path who allowed a close approach for pictures. 

Obliging Grey Waxbill – Stuart Clarke

Back in the carpark for refreshments, an African Fish Eagle was calling overhead with numerous birds in the surrounding bush including an Orange-breasted Bushshrike which flew close past us. In total we recorded 67 species in 4 hours which is fairly good for winter. I look forward to going back in mid-summer when I’m sure it would be easy to get well over 100.

A number of animal species occur in the reserve including Impala and Zebra – Robin Wainwright

Trip Report by Rob McLennan-Smith

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