Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week. Our Cape Vulture provided quite a scare by not moving for four days but fortunately has become more active again!
Please also find attached a photo of our incubating bird from our nest camera.
Once again we could not have asked for
better weather for a birding outing.
We met in the car park at 7:30 am where a number of the more common birds were there to greet us: Hadeda Ibis, Common, Glossy and Red-winged Starlings, Dark-capped Bulbul, House Sparrow, Red-eyed Dove and of course the Common Myna.
We were joined by two members of the Mount Edgecombe club, who themselves were joined by a visitor from Australia.
As we enter the gardens, the number of Egyptian Geese and all the related activity is noticeable; Adult Geese running around the lawn with their chicks, and people feeding them generously, not surprising that they are doing very well, and their numbers seem to increase on every visit to the gardens.
Also on the lawn were Wooly-necked Storks, Sacred Ibises and Spur-winged Geese.
We strolled over to the lake edge and were amazed at number of birds that are supported by the small pond.
Quite a number of African Spoonbills, a common Moorhen, and in the trees around the lake were quite a few Yellow-billed Egrets, Grey and Black-headed Herons, and Pink-backed Pelicans. Also seen were Malachite Kingfisher, Hammerkop and a Pied Kingfisher who entertained us with it’s fishing antics.
We then headed off to the gardens around the office block to look for the Black-throated Wattle-eye that had been seen in this area recently, but to no avail. What we did see, was a Kurrichane Thrush, Olive Sunbird, Speckled Mousebird, Green-backed Camaroptera, and Tawny-flanked Prinia.
On the pathway heading to the west side, we heard a pair of Black-collared Barbets calling. At the grassland there were Bronze Mannikins eating seed. Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Purple-crested Turaco, and African Paradise Flycatcher. A little further, beyond the fish ponds, Square-tailed Drongo, Spectacled Weaver interacting with Black Flycatcher, Cape White-eye, Thick-billed Weaver and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird. Also seen was a Yellow-bellied Greenbul, which surprisingly, did not call at all, which cast a little doubt on the ID, but photographs later confirmed its ID.
The highlight of the day was a flowering creeper growing high above the tree canopy, which was in full flower. The flowers were a magnet to a number of Sunbirds. On this plant four different Sunbirds were competing for the nectar: Amethyst, Grey, Collared and White-bellied. It was here that we were fortunate to see the Black Sparrowhawk, which briefly flew direct overhead then disappeared before we had time to get a photograph.
The indigenous area was very quiet, and all that was seen were a few Yellow-fronted Canaries.
On the last section we heard a Klaas’s Cuckoo calling but were unable to see it. There was some debate over the possibility of it being a Robin mimicking the the call, but we eventually concurred that the call was clear and consistent, so agreed that it was definitely a Cuckoo calling.
While drinking our tea, a number of African Palm Swifts landed in the tree above us. It was quite entertaining to hear them twittering quite loudly as one doesn’t often hear them calling when they fly.
We saw or heard a total of 60 birds. Click here to see the list.
17 birders attended the BLPN bird walk on a lovely sunny day. This must be a record number for a Wednesday activity ! No guessing what the attraction was – obviously the hopes for a sighting of the Spotted Ground Thrush! More about that later.
Crispin Hemson kindly joined as for a while.
Mention must be made of our new young birder, Justin Stoltz – 12 years old and already knowledgeable about the birds. He told me that birding is his favourite hobby – Welcome Justin – don’t ever lose your enthusiasm!
Birding was fairly challenging as the birds don’t call much during the non-breeding winter months. Crispin wandered off and then phoned me to say that he was looking at a juvenile Green Twinspot. We all rushed off to see it but by the time we reached him the silly bird had flown off.
In winter one can see six species of Sunbird and we were lucky to
see all six (Amethyst, Collared, Grey, Olive, Purple-banded and White-bellied).
But the star was undoubtedly the magnificent Grey Sunbird with it’s red
Southern Boubous were calling the whole time, often in duet. They have many calls and one individual had a very different and extremely pretty call.
A special bird of the day was a single Red-billed Firefinch.
In the reservoir area we saw two very active Tawny-flanked Prinias. Some of the other species seen on the walk were Terrestrial Brownbul, Black Cuckooshrike, Square-tailed Drongo, African Paradise Flycatcher, African Goshawk, Black-headed Oriole, Black-backed Puffback, Red-capped Robin-chat, Black Sparrowhawk, Kurrichane Thrush, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Purple-crested Turaco and Golden-tailed Woodpecker.
Four species of Weavers were observed (Dark-backed, Spectacled,
Thick-billed and Village).
Unfortunately we did not see a Spotted Ground Thrush. They seem to be rather elusive this year (except to Crispin of course!). After doing the bird list at tea-time we recorded 46 species but when most people had left a Pied Crow flew overhead, so the total count was 47. (click here to see the list of the species seen and heard). Tamsin and I went for a little walk up the central path and we were lucky to see a Slender Mongoose.
Thanks to Paul Hobden and Jacqui and Justin Stoltz for photos.
Please find attached (Click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.
Please also find attached a photo of our incubating bird.
Unfortunately some information below on another poisoning incident last week- a devastating loss of 537 vultures of several species:
PRESS RELEASE – VULTURE POISONING AT CT 1: Botswana
The public is informed that the Department of Wildlife and National Parks recently identified a poisoning site in a Wildlife Management Area CT 1 in the Central District. The poisoning was believed to have been caused by lacing of three poached elephant carcasses with a poisonous chemical which lead to significant mortality in vultures and eagles. A total of 537 vultures and two tawny eagles were found dead at the site. The breakdown included 10 cape vultures, 14 lappet faced vultures, 468 white backed vultures, 17 white headed vultures and 28 hooded vulture. The law enforcement team attending the scene is working around the clock to decontaminate the area. Sampling of carcasses and the environment was done for further laboratory analysis. The public in the vicinity of the area CT1 is request to report any wildlife mortalities which may be spotted in their areas. The Department is concerned with the habit of some individuals who deliberately poison animals as this is dangerous and harmful to the environment. Furthermore, the public is encouraged to desist from engaging in such illegal acts and report any suspicious activities which may suggest environmental poisoning to the nearest wildlife office or the police.
Please find attached (Click Here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.
Looking at the data, it appears that our Bearded Vultures are all incubating now. Similarly our Nest Cam bird has also started incubating.
See below a link to an article related to the poisoning incident mentioned last week. Unfortunately there was a second incident, also in the Zululand area, this past week with at least 16 white-backs found dead.
We could not have ask for better weather as 20 birders met at the entrance of the park. We welcomed two new members and four visitors, who joined us for the outing.
The Village Weavers were highly vocal and quite active on the nests in the large tree in the neighbouring garden.
We split into two groups, one led by Sandi and Jane and the other by myself.
As expected, when we set off, many of the forest birds could be heard calling but were not seen.
Our first interesting sighting was in fact a Red Duiker on the pathway.
A pair of Dark-backed Weavers entertained us with their beautiful call as they occupied themselves with what seemed to be unseasonal nest building They were undisturbed by our presence.
We were rewarded with a nice display by a Red-capped Robin Chat. Terrestrial Brownbul was the prominent bird of the day with numerous sightings. While the Tambourine Dove was heard calling throughout the walk.
The forest fringe bordering the grassland was the most productive spot for both groups.
Here, we saw Sunbirds, Thick-billed Weavers, Bronze Mannikins, Cape White-eyes and Cape Batis were also present.
Sadly none of the target birds (Spotted Ground Thrush, Green Twinspots, Buff-spotted Flufftail ) were recorded.
We finished off with a walk up to the Black Sparrowhawk nest as we had heard it calling in that area. We were soon rewarded with the bird flying directly above us.
Sandi’s group were fortunate to get a view of it perched in a tree. They also had a nice view of Black Cuckooshrike both Male and female, Black-backed Puffback, Golden-tailed Woodpecker and Purple Banded Sunbird.
The total bird count for the day was 52 (click here to see the list) to which Sandi added another three after doing some birding with Crispin Hemson when most had left.
Please find attached (Click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.
past week has not been a good one for vulture; a dead Cape Vulture was picked
up in the Eastern Cape- quite close to where N207 is foraging. Cause of death
still needs to be established. In a second incident, 9 White-backed Vultures
and 3 Lappet-faced Vultures were found dead near a carcass laced with poison.
The carcasses were already a few days old, but hopefully we will still be able
to establish what type of poison was used.
a happier note, our nestcam birds (see attached) have been adding some
interesting items to their nest.
At the start of the outing we stopped at the lookout/picnic shelter and a huge flock of Thick-billed Weavers flew overhead. From this spot we also saw Black-bellied starlings, Greater double-collared Sunbird, Cape White-eyes, Yellow-fronted Canaries, a Little Sparrowhawk and Dark-capped Bulbuls.
Walking down the slope to the bottom we had a lovely Bark Spider on its web hanging over the path. A certain someone, who shall be nameless, did not seem to enjoy the sight of this creature!
There were masses of Halleria lucida trees all over the reserve, heavy with flowers and dripping with nectar for the sunbirds and other nectar-feeders.
Walking towards the dam we came across a bird party and we were enthralled by a Black-backed Puffback with a huge caterpillar in its beak. Then it dropped the caterpillar and we watched it searching on the ground for it’s lost snack. Fortunately the sharp-eyed bird found it again and flew up into the tree to enjoy it’s breakfast!
The terrain is looking very different after the heavy rains and flooding. It was amazing to see how destructive water can be. The stream is flowing quite strongly but there is a lot of debris and destroyed vegetation and we could see how high the water had risen. Parts of the old path were covered with broken branches and rocks which had been washed down from the top ends of the reserve. New paths had to be created to avoid these obstructions.
The dam has also been affected. There were only 3 birds on the water – one Egyptian Goose and two Common moorhens.
The path towards the boardwalk was quite muddy but the wonderful
Conservancy members have already been working hard to replace the missing and
broken planks over the wetter areas.
Birding was a little challenging as the birds were rather quiet,
and of course the migrants have departed. Empty skies – no Kites or
Swallows at this time of the year. We didn’t even hear a Kingfisher or a
Woodpecker! However five species of Sunbird were very welcome – Amethyst,
Collared, Greater double-collared, Grey and Olive.
The total count was 36 species. Click here to see the list.
Sorry – no decent photos of birds. I’m missing John Bremner and
Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week. Seems our Cape Vulture may breed in the Eastern Cape afterall.
I have also attached a lovely photo of the adult pair from our nest camera.
A chance remark to my sister resulted in Sally and I being invited to join her in the TEBA Cottage at the very mouth of Kosi Bay Estuary for four nights. We had a couple of days to prepare for our trip.
A long way to go for four nights so Sally organised for us to have three nights in Mkuze on the way back – staying in the hutted camp accommodation.
We prolonged the forecast six hour journey by taking a longcut through Phinda on the district road. Instead of turning off the N3 at Hluhluwe we went on a further 20 kms and took the Phinda off ramp to the Phinda reserve entrance and because we were passing through there was no charge.
The 30 km dirt rode through the reserve enabled us to see aminals and birds. Towards the end of the road we encountered a pair of Cheetahs lying in the shade with their legs protruding onto the road. We stopped (although strictly speaking they suggest as we were passing through not to do so in case of trouble). The Cheetahs took little notice of us and stayed put. An pleasant and unexpected start to our trip.
My sister had organised our entry permits for us so we were able to pass quickly through the gate and proceed down to the TEBA Cottage at the river mouth.
The cottage is rustic. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms (one with shower the other with a bath), large kitchen, dining room and a deck with panoramic views across the bay. Yes hot water in the kitchen and for the bath as well as the basins in the bedrooms. No electricity, just a generator powering batteries for lights and the fridges and freezers. That said, it was a privilege to stay there. No neighbours and the bay in front of us.
Each morning, up early and into the coastal forest – following the sandy road to the cottage- listening and trying to spot the many birds present. Getting good sightings was very tricky and many of the birds we identified were by ear – Sally’s mostly.
There were Green Malkoha, Black-throated Wattle-eyes, White-starred Robins, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatchers, Grey and Olive Sunbirds, Dark-backed Weavers, Black-backed Puffbacks, Southern Boubou, Natal Robins, Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbills, Rudd’s Apalis, Sombre and Yellow-bellied Greenbuls, Terrestial Brownbuls, Brown Scrub-Robins all adding their sounds to the bush.
Of course there were many butterflies too – which we have been unable to identify.
The weather was kind to us – not too hot and cool at night. Mossies were few and far between. A lot of time was spent on the beach and wading up the estuary looking for birds.
A group of waders on one of the sand strips – the tide was out – caught our attention.
Through the scope we decided that we needed to get closer to confirm our ID. A long distance photo confirmed our ID. Then I decided to wade out to get closer. As it happened a group of people got too close to the group and they flew landing on the same sand strip that I was on. I took my photos and then they flew up the coast towards Mozambique.
Here are some photos of other water birds we sighted in and around the estuary.
Fish seemed to be plentiful for the locals – perhaps their methodology was unusual.
A walk the other side of the estuary southwards along the coast with my sister, Natasha and Sally also gave us an unexpected surprise. My sister spotted shoals of fish riding in the waves and then she spotted a Loggerhead Turtle doing the same. In the end we had three more sightings of others doing the same.
Right at the bottom of the stairs leading down to the beach from the cottage there were several large trees which had collapsed into the sea due to corrosion. A the base of one of these lived an eel. Very colourful – bright yellow with dark markings – seen several times.
And in the water at the base of a tree there was a Lion Fish. On one morning it swam around in the sunlight enabling me to get a few nice photos of it.
Our bird list was not prolific and many of the bush birds were identified by sound. In the end we identified a total of 48 different species. Click here to see the list.
After four relaxing days at Kosi, Sally and I headed for three nights at Mkhuze staying in the hutted accommodation. We had two full days to explore the Reserve and visit the hides.
As an aside, if you plan to visit, be careful at night as the hutted camp is not secure. We were told that the previous week a lion was seen around the nearby cottages
We did see an elephant as it walked past the Masinga Hide without popping in to disturb the other aminals there. Other than that we encountered only the usual zebra, giraffe, nyala, impala, warthogs, gnus, baboons and monkeys.
Of course Masinga Hide is always worthwhile to see aminals and birds.
And some of the birds seen there.
The campsite is a good place to see birds and we were not let down when we went there. Here a few of the specials we saw there.
Malibali Hide – near the campsite – was full and we enjoyed the new hide. This time however it was relatively quiet but again we had a few specials to see.
Driving around the bird life was patchy in places yet we did manage to see a wide variety of different species which we had not see at any of the hides.
The second hide to the right of the picnic site at Nsumo Pan is another of our favourite hides except when the wind is blowing. Fortunately the weather was kind to us when we visited. Here are some views from the hide.
On arrival we were treated to a sight we had not expected. Looking out to the left there were pairs of Little Grebes, African Pygmy Geese and White-backed Ducks. And as we scanned the pan there were at least another 20 African Pygmy Geese and about 8 White-backed Ducks. In the past we would have been lucky to see just one pair of African Pygmy Geese.
African Jacana were on the lily pads, a Malachite Kingfisher put on a show, Whiskered Terns were seen all across the pan. And on the far side many other water birds could be seen.
On the shore line heading towards the Picnic site we spotted several Water Thick-knees and what appeared to be a three legged Black-winged Stilt – 2 red legs and one straw coloured!! All close to the African Fish-Eagle which was occupied on a meal.
The picnic site at Nsumo Pan is also one of our favourite places to visit especially for a tea and pee break. Birding is also good normally. And the day we visited was our lucky day – very special.
On the way in an African Paradise Flycatcher welcomed us.
Hippos greeted us bobbing up and down among the lily pads close to shore.
Pink-backed Pelicans and Yellow-billed Storks flew overhead.
Western Cattle Egrets were fishing from Hippo perches. And even a Grey Heron took its chances.
Even the bush around the picnic site had some interesting birds.
It was only as we were leaving that Sally heard a Sunbird calling. When we found it we both were thrilled by what we saw.
On one afternoon drive we returned quite late and driving up from the kuMahlahla hide, we encountered several Spotted Thick-knees as well as Fiery-necked Nightjars.
The Thick-knees I managed to get a few reasonable photos. But I lost out big time with the Fiery-necked Nightjar. There was one sitting on a bare branch right beside the driver’s side of the car. Quickly I put my camera onto Auto and took a shot. Flash goes off bouncing off the inside of the car. Rats. The bird is still there so I try again. This time the flash works perfectly but the bird flew off as the camera took focus. Later I checked the photo and it was a perfect shot of the branch – if only the bird had stayed.
Zululand birding is always full of pleasant surprises. The variety is plentiful. We love going to visit the many different habitats.
In all we recorded 122 birds – identified for Bird Lasser. Click here to see the list.
report was not favourable, as light rain was predicted for the Kloof area.
met in overcast conditions with some experiencing light misty rain on their way
to Krantzkloof. We decided to continue as patches of blue sky were visible
among the clouds which is normally a good sign that it will not rain.
the start it was clearly obvious that Krantzkloof had experienced heavy rain
and there and the river had flowed extensively over the banks in places. Our
first observation was a pair of Mountain Wagtail, who were extremely tame, and
came to within five metres of the group, before they moved off, Uncharacteristically,
mimicking their Cape Wagtail cousins by walking around on the lawn in the
seen in the picnic area was an Olive Thrush, which as always created some
debate about Olive and Kurrichane.
the bridge on the road we could see more evidence of the wash away which had
been created by the heavy rain. The pathway to the Iphithi Waterfall was closed
and we had to take a diversion up the hill to make our way to the trail.
back on the trail, we came a across a few birds. Doves at first, and then a
small bird party, quite high up in the canopy. In the poor light, we did not
get good views of the birds but were able to identify most of them by their
little further up the pathway, our concern about crossing the river to the Iphithi
Falls was confirmed, when we came across the bridge which had been washed down
decided to continue on the Long Shadow Trail, rather than to wade through the
overcast conditions and the Forest habitat were however not conducive to
birding and after walking a fair distance along this path and not seeing
any birds, we decided to return to the picnic area.
misty conditions closed in, and by the time we reached the picnic area it was raining,
and we decided to call it a day.