Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture Tracks

Dear All 

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.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulturehttps://twitter.com/vultureproject

Advertisements

Durban Botanic Gardens

Report by Terry Walls

Saturday 6th July 2019

Terry Walls

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.

Red-winged Starling perhaps – Mike Stead

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.

Egyptian Goose -Terry Walls

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.

Small Pond – Terry Walls

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.

Pink-backed Pelican – Mike Stead
Malachite Kingfisher – Mike Stead

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.

Terry Walls

Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture Tracks

Dear All 

Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week. Not much activity from our birds in the past week.

Please also find attached photos of our incubating bird from our nest camera.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

Homepage

Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture Tracks

Dear All 

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 photos of our incubating bird from our nest camera.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

Homepage

Burchell’s Coucal Eco Trail Outing 29 June 2019

Report by Tyron Dall

Nine birders enjoyed a wonderful mornings birding with excellent weather. The first bird to get our attention was an African Darter on a mud flat in the middle of the river, which seemed to be waiting for the sun’s rays to warm its outstretched wings.

In the beginning of the outing much of the trail was in the shade and the birding was a bit slow, but as the sun came out it picked up quite a bit. 

The Little Bee-eaters were giving quite a show, but naturally everyone was asking about the White-fronted Bee-eaters. We briefly heard the White-fronted Bee-eaters but didn’t see them until our walk back later in the day.

White-fronted bee-eater (Karen Diederiks)

The birds of the day for me, and which where lifers for some of our new BLPN members were the Cape robin-chat and Fiscal flycatcher. This is the first time this year that I have seen these birds on the trail. They seem to be altitudinal migrants to the coast in Winter.

The only raptor seen on the day was one of the resident Fish eagles which was seen perched on a tree in the distance. Another highlight for the day, was the amount of sunbirds which we saw. We all got very good views of the Purple-banded sunbird, as well as seeing Amethyst and White-bellied.

When we got back to the car park area which overlooks the river, we also got to see a Goliath heron and three Water thick-knees. Altogether the bird count for the morning was 63.

Thanks to all the people who came on the walk and for the photos supplied.

BIRD LIST FROM THE WALK

Cape Wagtail
Grey Heron
Black-headed Heron
Common Myna
Fork-tailed Drongo
Egyptian Goose
Hadeda Ibis
Brown-throated Martin
Red-eyed Dove
Spectacled Weaver
Thick-billed Weaver
African Darter
Dark-capped Bulbul
Reed Cormorant
Three-banded Plover
Tawny-flanked Prinia
Spur-winged Goose
Natal Spurfowl
Brown-hooded Kingfisher
Common Waxbill
Rattling Cisticola
Southern Fiscal
Amethyst Sunbird
Black-collared Barbet
Pied Crow
Little Bee-eater
Speckled Mousebird
Cape White-eye
Fan-tailed Widowbird
Yellow Weaver
Lesser Swamp Warbler
Red-throated Wryneck
Blacksmith Lapwing
Burchell’s Coucal
Pied Kingfisher
Red-capped Robin-Chat
Cape Robin-Chat
Southern Red Bishop
African Stonechat
Southern Black Flycatcher
Yellow-throated Longclaw
Yellow-fronted Canary
African Dusky Flycatcher
Tambourine Dove
Green-backed Camaroptera
White-fronted Bee-eater
Purple-banded Sunbird
Terrestrial Brownbul
African Fish Eagle
Sombre Greenbul
Cardinal Woodpecker
African Paradise Flycatcher
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
Bar-throated Apalis
White-eared Barbet
Woolly-necked Stork
Crested Barbet
White-bellied Sunbird
Bronze Mannikin
Fiscal Flycatcher
Goliath Heron
Red-winged Starling
Water Thick-knee

Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture Tracks

Dear All 

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.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

BLPN Bird Walk at Amber Lee, Howick

23rd June 2019

Report and photos by Crystelle Wilson

Birders from the coast got to see more than only birds on this outing to the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands. Reedbuck, impala, nyala, warthog and zebra wander around the residential estate, but the highlight was undoubtedly seeing a leguaan sunning itself on the reedbeds at one of the dams.

Water monitor or leguaan – Varanus niloticus

But back to birding, the club welcomed new member, Renate Roos from Shallcross, who attended her first outing. The gentle walk in the conservation area yielded a final tally of 53 species, which is quite respectable for a chilly day shortly after the winter solstice. (See list below).

There was brief confusion at one tree where two brightly coloured yellow birds shared the same branches. The puzzle was solved when one bird was identified as an immature Black-headed Oriole (with a black, not red, bill) and a Village Weaver already coming into breeding colours. 

There were no problems identifying the third yellow job, clearly a Yellow-throated Longclaw.

After the walk, Paul and Sally Bartho kindly invited members to enjoy their refreshments on the lawn of their home nearby.

A few intrepid birders then took off to visit the Karkloof Conservancy Centre a few kilometres outside Howick before returning home.

The bird hides were quiet, but we were rewarded with a variety of water birds: African Spoonbill, Red-billed Teal, a pair of South African Shelduck and a juvenile Black Crake that along with one adult foraged in front of us for long time.  The best sighting of all though was a pair of Wattled Crane seen from the hide but way off in the fields, fortunately a drive along the road got us a lot closer and a convenient layby afforded us a better view of the birds. The birds were not very obliging about posing for a photo though.  

It is always such a delight to show someone a lifer and our new member, Renate, was delighted with the bird. 22 birds were seen in the roughly 2 hours we were on site.  Bird list for Karkloof Conservancy Centre follows the Amber Lee list below.

Bird list for Amber Lee

Pentad: 2925_3015, Start: 2019-06-23, End: 2019-06-23, Species: 53, Observations: 53
1. Red-winged Starling, 2019-06-23 11:14
2. Drakensberg Prinia, 2019-06-23 10:51
3. White-bellied Sunbird, 2019-06-23 10:50
4. African Dusky Flycatcher, 2019-06-23 10:36
5. Southern Black Flycatcher, 2019-06-23 10:30
6. White-rumped Swift, 2019-06-23 10:23
7. Little Swift, 2019-06-23 10:23
8. Brown-hooded Kingfisher, 2019-06-23 10:19
9. Sombre Greenbul, 2019-06-23 10:11
10. Southern Black Tit, 2019-06-23 10:02
11. Fork-tailed Drongo, 2019-06-23 09:59
12. Yellow-throated Longclaw, 2019-06-23 09:54
13. Black-collared Barbet, 2019-06-23 09:53
14. Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, 2019-06-23 09:46
15. Fan-tailed Widowbird, 2019-06-23 09:37
16. Cape Grassbird, 2019-06-23 09:34
17. African Palm Swift, 2019-06-23 09:29
18. Reed Cormorant, 2019-06-23 09:27
19. Little Grebe, 2019-06-23 09:26
20. Cape White-eye, 2019-06-23 09:26
21. Blacksmith Lapwing, 2019-06-23 09:25
22. Acacia Pied Barbet, 2019-06-23 09:13
23. Black Crake, 2019-06-23 09:12
24. Woolly-necked Stork, 2019-06-23 09:08
25. Black-headed Heron, 2019-06-23 08:49
26. House Sparrow, 2019-06-23 08:42
27. Bronze Mannikin, 2019-06-23 08:39
28. Amethyst Sunbird, 2019-06-23 08:38
29. Levaillant’s Cisticola, 2019-06-23 08:33
30. African Pipit, 2019-06-23 08:31
31. Jackal Buzzard, 2019-06-23 08:28
32. Common Moorhen, 2019-06-23 08:27
33. Red-eyed Dove, 2019-06-23 08:26
34. Southern Fiscal, 2019-06-23 08:23
35. African Stonechat, 2019-06-23 08:23
36. Brown-throated Martin, 2019-06-23 08:20
37. Cape Longclaw, 2019-06-23 08:20
38. Dark-capped Bulbul, 2019-06-23 08:16
39. Helmeted Guineafowl, 2019-06-23 08:11
40. African Hoopoe, 2019-06-23 08:09
41. Black-headed Oriole, 2019-06-23 08:06
42. Cape Wagtail, 2019-06-23 07:57
43. Village Weaver, 2019-06-23 07:53
44. Southern Red Bishop, 2019-06-23 07:51
45. Cape Crow, 2019-06-23 07:50
46. Speckled Pigeon, 2019-06-23 07:47
47. Hadeda Ibis, 2019-06-23 07:47
48. Egyptian Goose, 2019-06-23 07:46
49. Cape Robin-Chat, 2019-06-23 07:46
50. Red-billed Quelea, 2019-06-23 07:42
51. Cape Turtle Dove, 2019-06-23 07:42
52. Brubru, 2019-06-23 07:41
53. Cape Sparrow, 2019-06-23 07:38

Bird list for Karkloof Conservancy Centre.

  1. Jackal Buzzard
  2. Red-knobbed Coot
  3. Reed Cormorant
  4. Black Crake
  5. Wattled Crane
  6. Cape Crow
  7. African Darter
  8. Red-eyed Dove
  9. Fork-tailed Drongo
  10. Egyptian Goose
  11. Grey Heron
  12. Purple Heron
  13. African Hoopoe
  14. African Sacred Ibis
  15. Hadeda Ibis
  16. Blacksmith Lapwing
  17. South African Shelduck
  18. African Spoonbill
  19. Pied Starling
  20. Cape Wagtail
  21. Common Waxbill
  22. Village Weaver

Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

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.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

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.

https://www.iol.co.za/dailynews/news/kwazulu-natal/look-poisoned-vulture-carcasses-found-in-zululand-25804015/

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2019-06-13-critically-endangered-vultures-poisoned-in-zululand-with-more-deaths-likely/

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

Pigeon Valley Outing

Report by Terry Walls

Saturday 1st June 2019

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.

Red Duiker – Terry Walls

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.

Black Sparrowhawk- Mike

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.

Cheers

Terry

Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture Tracks

Dear All 

Please find attached (Click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.

This 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.

On a happier note, our nestcam birds (see attached) have been adding some interesting items to their nest.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

Iphithi Outing

Report by Sandi du Preez

Wednesday 22 May 2019

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 his camera!

Sandi du Preez

Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture Tracks

Dear All 

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 the latest activity on our nest- no egg laid yet….

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

http://www.projectvulture.org.za/ https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All 

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.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture

https://twitter.com/vultureproject.

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture

Kosi Bay and Mkuze

9 to 16 May 2019

Report by Paul and Sally Bartho

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.

TEBA Cottage

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.

Thick Coastal Forest

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.

Black-throated Wattle-eye
Green Malkoha (Banana Bill)

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.

About 20 Waders

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.

Spear Fisherman with a plentiful catch of rather small fish.

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.

Mkhuze

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.

Lone elephant at KuMasinga Hide

Of course Masinga Hide is always worthwhile to see aminals and birds.

Baboons enjoying the early morning sun
Could you do this?

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.

African Cuckoo-Hawk

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.

African Paradise Flycatcher

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.

Neergaard’s Sunbird
Neergaard’s Sunbird

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.

Spotted Thick-knee

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.

Hope you enjoyed the read.

Paul and Sally Bartho

Pink-backed Pelican – Have Wings Will Fly

Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture Tracks.

Dear All 

Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh and Mollie and our Cape Vulture N207, for the past week.

I have also attached a recent photo from our nest camera. The birds seem to be preparing their nest with fresh sticks and what looks like dinner.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

https://www.facebook.com/projectvulture
https://twitter.com/vultureproject

BLPN Outing to Krantzkloof Saturday 5th May 2019

Report by Terry Walls

Weather report was not favourable, as light rain was predicted for the Kloof area.

We 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.

From 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 picnic area.

Mountain wagtail  Photo: Mike Stead
Mountain Wagtail. Photo: Mick Jackson

Also seen in the picnic area was an Olive Thrush, which as always created some debate about Olive and Kurrichane.

Crossing 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.

Forest trail start  Photo:  Terry Walls
Southern Black Tit  Photo: Mick Jackson

Once 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 calls.

A 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 the stream.

Flood damaged bridge   Photo: Terry Walls

We decided to continue on the Long Shadow Trail, rather than to wade through the water.

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.

The misty conditions closed in, and by the time we reached the picnic area it was raining, and we decided to call it a day.

A total of only 28 birds were listed.

Bird List

Apalis, Bar-throated 

Bulbul, Dark-capped

Barbet, Black-collared

Barbet, White-eared

Dove, Lemon    

Dove, Red-eyed

Dove, Tambourine

Drongo, Square-tailed

Drongo, Fork-tail

Goose, Egyptian

Goshawk, African

Greenbul, Sombre

Hornbill, Crowned          

Ibis, Hadeda

Kingfisher, Brown-hooded

Pigeon, Speckled

Puffback, Black-backed

Robin-chat, Red-capped

Starling, Red-winged

Sunbird, Collared

Sunbird, Grey

Sunbird, Olive

Thrush, Olive

Tit, Southern Black

Turaco, Purple-crested

Wagtail, Mountain 

Weaver, Dark-backed     

White-eye, Cape

Burchell’s Coucal Eco Trail Outing 12 May 2019

Report by Tyron Dall

A perfect sunny mornings’ birding was enjoyed by a group of 13 people. I had arrived 45 minutes before the scheduled start and was greeted with a Western Osprey flying directly overhead. As the other members arrived I told them about the Osprey sighting and they were all envious and wanted to see it too. Well luck was with them as later in the day the Osprey (photo EJ Bartlett) was seen once again flying in the distance with a fish in its talons.

As the members arrived to the car park overlooking the estuary (photo Tyron Dall) we had sightings of Water Thick-knee, Malachite Kingfisher (photo Ronnie Herr), Hamerkop and some Black-headed Herons (photo Ronnie Herr) on the roofs of the nearby buildings.

We started the walk just after 7am and everyone was pleasantly surprised to see how clean the Illovo Estuary was after the recent floods. It seems this catchment was largely spared the terrible litter that has plagued other rivers in the area. As we started the walk we walked past the canoe club building and we saw that they had marked a level on the building where the recent flood waters had risen to (a couple of meters up the building!)

Continuing on the first spectacle we were treated to was a couple of large flocks of Cattle Egrets flying up the river (photo Rob McLennan-Smith). As we continued walking the calls of a couple of Red-throated Wrynecks (photo Rob McLennan-Smith) announced themselves. The photographers in the group all jostled for position to take pictures of them. Then it was the turn of a couple of Yellow-throated Longclaws (photo Tyron Dall) to show themselves, calling from the tops of some bushes.

As we climbed a small vantage point overlooking the river a small flock of Common Waxbills flew from the tall grasses and upon surveying the river a couple of Black Ducks (photo Ronnie Herr) were seen on the water as well as a couple of Three-banded Plovers.

By this point we had already seen a few Little Bee-eaters, but we were then treated to one of the trails “special” birds, a few White-fronted Bee-eater (photo EJ Bartlett). Unfortunately the sun was making it difficult for the photographers to capture these beauties as it was directly behind the Bee-eaters. 

Next we headed in to the more forested section of the trails where we managed to find African Dusky Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, White-eared Barbet (photo EJ Bartlett), Green-backed Camaroptera, Golden-tailed Woodpecker(heard), Sombre Greenbul(heard) and Bar-throated Apalis(heard).

On our way back we also managed to see some Black Saw-wings and Fan-tailed Widowbirds. While we were enjoying some food and drinks after the walk we were entertained by some Southern Black Flycatchers, and Southern Black Tits. Altogether we managed a total count of 64 species (55 seen and 9 heard)

Everyone was also pleased to hear that these trails are open to the public and no prior arrangement is necessary to visit them. Thanks to everyone who attended and to all the photographers who contributed their photos.