Muntinzini Weekend away. 26-28 May 2017

Report by Cheryl Bevan

Iris and Geoff Sear, David and Tanya Swanepoel and John and I arrived at Twin Streams on Friday afternoon and the first bird we saw was the Narina Trogon. What a start to our weekend.

Narina Trogon

We gathered together at the beautiful lapa and communal kitchen for a delicious braai.

We were woken up on Sunday morning to the call of a Wood Owl. John took his torch and went searching for the Wood Owl but wasn’t able to see it.  We did however hear four Wood Owls taking to each other which was a huge treat.

We went looking for the ellusive resident African Finfoot to no avail.

As we were strolling along we were amazed to see the Trogon out in the open for about 15 minutes. What a sighting. There were about 3 calling each other the whole time we were out there.

As we walked down the road we were treated to the Africa Olive Pigeon, African Green Pigeon, Little Sparrow Hawk, Golden Tailed Woodpecker to name a few.

White-eared Barbet

With hungry tummies we headed back for breakfast. Afterwards we set off to the Raffia Palm Monument. A lot of the Palms had fruited and was chopped down. And due to this, the forest was very sparse and we hardly saw any birds.

We did see a Palm-nut Vulture on the gravel road heading back to Twin Streams.

At lunch time Cecil and Jenny Fenwick joined us for the weekend and we headed off to Umlalazi Nature Reserve looking for the Mangrove Kingfisher. The Reserve has changed a lot and the birding was spartan.

Sunday morning we went looking for the African Finfoot again with no luck. So we strolled in the opposite direction and had a lovely walk before breakfast.

Afterwards we headed back to Umlalazi Nature Reserve where we walked through the mangrove forest boardwalk.  There was a lot of water so we were unable to get to the spot where the Africa Finfoot is usually spotted.

We headed back at lunchtime, packed up and ended our weekend at the Fat Cat restaurant before heading home after a very enjoyable weekend.

In all 47 different species were identified. To see our list click here and here and here.

Cheryl Bevan

Narina Trogon

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (Click Here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture; Bennie for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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

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

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Umhlanga Lagoon 17th May 2017

Report by Sandi du Preez

It was a great relief to be blessed with a beautiful sunny day after 5 days of rain. Thirteen birders attended the outing.

The early arrivals saw the Black-throated Wattle-eye in a tree near the entrance, but try as we may, it was not to be seen again.

We birded from the first board-walk and here we had lovely views of Rufous-winged Cisticola, Little bee-eater, a “huddle” of Bronze Mannikins, Brown-throated Weaver and Dark-capped Yellow Warbler and Hamerkop.

A huddle of Bronze Mannikins

The Dark-capped Yellow Warbler was a lifer for some.

Rufous-winged Cisticola

A pair of Giant Kingfishers gave us a wonderful fly-past back and forth several times.

Birders on the Beach

Then onto the beach to look for the White-fronted Plovers, but no luck – good views of some very jaunty Tawny-flanked Prinias though.

Tawny-flanked Prinia

White-breasted Cormorant

A White-browed Scrub-robin was calling from exactly the same spot as last year’s October outing but remained hidden.

Black-bellied Starling

A very vocal Square-tailed Drongo had us confused at first but then we got to see it clearly. We heard a Fish-eagle calling several times and it took quite a while for us to find it. Of course there were the usual comments about the “Real Sound of Africa”!

Then we headed off to the forest area. Birding was rather quiet, but Calvin heard and saw a Chorister Robin-chat, but it disappeared before anyone else got a glimpse of it. We did, however see a very co-operative Red-capped Robin-Chat hopping happily along the path.

Red-capped Robin-Chat

We went over the other boardwalk to a section of beach that was just too steep to reach by most of us pensioners – this would not have been a problem some years ago! However, Stuart, our Dusi and Comrades  participant, was not at all daunted and he was rewarded with a good sighting of a White-fronted Plover.

Back through the forest and beautiful views of Ashy Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Black-backed Puffback, Terrestrial Brownbuls, Green-backed Camaroptera, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds.

During the outing we had four species of sunbirds (Amethyst, Collared, Grey and Olive).

As we went for our coffee break, John went off with his camera to see what more he could photograph. He was lucky to see a Sandwich Tern and a Swift Tern. While we were having our picnic, a strange bird flew overhead – a drone!!

Altogether we saw or heard 55 species. Click here to view our list.

Sandi

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LatestCape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture; Bennie for the past week.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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

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

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Mannikin Meander

Report by Jane and Mike Roseblade

Sunday 21st May dawned calm and clear, typical balmy May weather, as 9 of us gathered at the Westville Civic Centre in the hopes of nailing all three Mannikins – Bronze, Red-backed and Magpie in one day.

We set off across Woodside Park and with the morning sun on the fruiting trees the birds were active and we had superb viewing of Olive and Grey Sunbirds. Then a juvenile Olive Bushshrike crept through the tangled vegetation and a Brimstone Canary sat atop the exotic pine watching us pass by.

An African Goshawk darted out of the canopy and across the road affording most of the party a view of his rump as he disappeared. We spent some time in the park but only one Bronze Mannikin was spotted.

We crossed Link Road and headed into the forest area and on to the grassland where the mannikins are normally found. Here we were entertained by a number of Bronze, one Red-backed seen only by myself and no Magpie!!

This is not to say that there were no birds to be seen as we had good views of Streaky-headed Seedeater, Purple-crested Turaco and a late Violet-backed Starling amongst the usual species.

We had our morning tea before heading down to the scout bowl, also known as the “Dog Park” and here David (for whom this was a lifer) ticked the Magpie Mannikin, only one and no one else saw the bird!

An interesting bird here is the Common Moorhen, the park is frequented by numerous dogs and they are often encouraged by their owners to hunt in the area around the ponds. We were amazed that a relatively shy species like a Common Moorhen would take up residence here but they have been present now for well over a month.

Jenny joined us here so now our party was a round ten and we now headed for Jubilee Park in an attempt to find a more obliging Magpie and Red-backed Mannikin that would stay around to be viewed.

Jubilee did not disappoint on the Magpie Mannikin and good views were afforded the whole party.

Magpie Mannikin

The Red-backed Mannikin remained elusive and for this we had to go back to our home where the Red-backed obligingly came in to the feeder as we sat enjoying a lunch time braai.

With mission achieved and a total bird count of 67 species (not bad for the middle of Westville in Autumn), everyone could relax and enjoy the afternoon.

Jane and Mike Roseblade

There was no photographer on our outing so the photo of Magpie Mannikin was taken from my kitchen window!!

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture; Bennie for the past week.

Bennie has extended his movements even further this week and is now exploring the southern Free State. The Cape Vulture breeding season has started, therefore one would expect Bennie to be closer to home.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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

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

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Mkuze

Hi,

Timm and I were at Mkuze at the end of last month for a few days and were very happy to see some lovely birds.

The Striped Kingfisher was very obliging, sitting on a tree very close to the road  – as was the Tawny Eagle.

The juvenile African Fish-Eagle flew over us before resting on the dead tree in the pan.  Unfortunately the Pelicans were very far away so no pics.

African Fish-Eagle

I’ve included a couple that aren’t birds but may be interesting for some.

Cheetah

Kind regards

Pam Zarnack

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Sherwood Farm

From a visit this last weekend to Sherwood Farm in the Karkloof area, a Crowned Eagle.

Crowned Eagle

Crispin Hemson

hemsonc@gmail.com

082 926 5333

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BirdLife South Africa AGM

Dear colleagues

You can view the proceedings of the recent AGM which was held on the MSC Sinfonia at: http://birdlife.org.za/events/flock/flock-at-sea-again-2017 (note that there are several videos)

We are very grateful to John Bowey for videoing the AGM, editing the videos, and uploading the videos onto BirdLife South Africa’s YouTube channel.

Please share the link with bird club members.

Regards

Mark

Mark D. Anderson

Chief Executive Officer

Isdell House, 17 Hume Road (cnr Hume Road/Jan Smuts Drive), Dunkeld West 2196, Gauteng

Private Bag X5000, Parklands 2121, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Tel: +27 (0)11 789 1122

Fax: +27 (0)11 789 5188

Cell: +27 (0) 82 788 0961

E-mail: ceo@birdlife.org.za

http://www.birdlife.org.za

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached (click here) the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture; Bennie for the past week. Despite the cold, rain and snow the birds still seems to be active this past weekend. Bennie extended his movements into southern Lesotho this week and Camo is exploring KwaZulu-Natal.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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

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

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Interview with Mark Anderson

Dear colleagues

I was interviewed today on Cliff Central about birds, birding, BirdLife South Africa and Flock at Sea. The podcast is at http://cliffcentral.com/the-laws-of-life/laws-of-life-birdwatching/

Regards

Mark

Mark D. Anderson

Chief Executive Officer

BirdLife South Africa

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Shongweni Outing Sat 6th May

Short report on Saturday’s outing to Shongweni.

Elena Russell

We had lovely weather, a bit cool to start but soon warmed up nicely.

A good turnout, there were some faces that we have not seen on a Saturday outing for a very long time!

Our bird count at tea was 78 and then Sandi phoned to say that they had picked up African Fish Eagle – 79 – not too shabby for a winter’s morning birding at Shongweni.

On the walk past the office and on past the soccer field and round by the road, we had Rufous-naped Lark, Neddicky, Little Bee-eater, Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Chinspot Batis, Common Fiscal, Yellow-fronted and Brimstone Canaries, Rattling Cisticola, Grey Cuckooshrike (so it must be winter) Red-eyed, Emerald Spotted and Tambourine Doves, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler.  Masses of African Black Swifts, Black Sparowhawk, Lanner Falcon, White-necked Raven plus lots more.

What did fly past us here was a Cape Crow which I am sure I have not seen at Shongweni before?

We carried on down the road and up a dirt track and picked up the Cape Batis, Bar-throated Apalis, Crested and Black-collared Barbets, Black-headed Oriole, Black-backed Puffback, Red-capped Robin-Chat, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Black-bellied, Glossy and Red-winged Starlings, Village, Thick-billed and Spectacled Weavers.

Our sunbird count was very poor, only Amethyst and Collared.

Then down to the view site over-looking the dam. We were all amazed at how low the dam was but nothing much on the mud banks. A few Egyptian Geese, Yellow-billed Ducks, a pair of African Black Ducks flew by.  On the dam wall were Reed and White-breasted Cormorants, Speckled Pigeon and not much more except apart from the Mocking Cliff-Chat.

Mocking Cliff-Chat

Cape Rock Thrush (Female)

So down to the bottom and we walked up to the dam wall and here we found a sluice gate open and water gushing out. The Saturday Chat Show went into overdrive. “what could be happening”. Stewart who belongs to the Canoe Club was most concerned – very soon there would be no water to paddle on!!

Dave Rimmer came to our rescue and phoned the Chief Engineer (?) at Umgeni Water. There had been a spill of some contaminant, we were not told whether it was up or down stream but that it had to be flushed out. The little stream where we usually get Mountain Wagtails was a raging torrent so not much doing there.

We walked on down to the Giant Steps. Trumpeter Hornbills, Terrestrial Brownbul, Sombre Greenbuls, Giant Kingfisher, later on Brown-hooded and Pied Kingfishers.  Yellow-rumped Tinker-birds called, Purple Crested Turaco, etc, etc.

Kite Spider

From there we headed to the picnic site for tea.  There were Cardinal and Golden-tailed Woodpeckers, Fork-tailed Drongos and Black Flycatchers in the trees which kept us amused.

Finally home to walk the dog!

Thanks to Dave Rimmer for the great photos.

Cheers

Elena

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Latest Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture; Bennie for the past week. Click here.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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

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

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Illovo bird walk

Report by John Bremner

Saturday 29th April 2017

Adam Cruickshank is organizing a Bird Day for July to raise awareness of Birding as a pastime as well as its valuable contribution towards conservation. We were asked, as a committee, to help with this initiative. Arnia, Sean and I went on an exploratory walk with Adam and a small group of local birders to access the venue. The weather was fantastic, no wind to speak of and a clear blue sky.

This is a new venue in the early stages of development next to the Illovo Business Park just outside Amanzimtoti about 30 minutes drive from Durban. There is secure parking inside the Business Park with a security guard on duty. The Business Park is right next to the Illovu River and has a restaurant and brewery on site. Just what birders are looking for after an early start?

Right next to the restaurant is the entrance to the nature reserve. The reserve consists of a grassland area as you enter on your right with sugar cane on the left, there are some trees along the river and there is a small remnant of coastal forest about 1.5 Kms from the entrance. There are trails cut and well maintained covering about 5 Kms of mainly flat pathways along the river and through the forest area.

Right from the start we could see loads of bird activity along the river and in the grasses at the side of the path, Bronze Manikins, Yellow Fronted Canaries, doves, sunbirds and many others were seen as we headed towards the river. In the cane fields were flocks of birds a little far off for clear views but we picked out Pin-tailed Whydah and some weavers amoung them.

Yellow-fronted Canary

Speckled Mousebird

At the river we found Giant, Brown-hooded and Malachite Kingfishers and a Pygmy Kingfisher in the forested area.

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

We had flybys by Spurwinged Geese, Egyptian Geese and a beautiful African Fish-Eagle.

African Fish-Eagle

We also spotted a mystery rapture fly past, we were not sure but Arnia thought it maybe a Palm-Nut Vulture, we got some very long distance photos which when blown up on the computer showed some of the features, Arnia sent them to David Allan who confirmed it was indeed a juvenile Palm-Nut Vulture. What a nice addition to the bird list.

In the river are some sandbanks and there are some cane fences that have been built which are intended to be used as bird hides, from here you can scan the river and sandbanks. On the sand bank were some Three-banded Plovers and further up the river we could see some Water Thick-knees.

Cape Wagtail

We moved on to the forest.

In the forest we could hear the Green-backed Camaroptera and we saw a Black-throated Wattle-eye as well as our very own Natal Robin (RCRC) and a Sombre Greenbul, there were a few others but as always they did not hang around or perch to be identified.

All in all it was a lovely morning birding in a new and interesting venue. We had a bird list of about 60 species. Click here to view the list. I am sure this will become a popular spot because there is loads of potential and having an easily accessible river frontage just adds another highlight to your birding experience. Let us hope the Bird Day is a big success. Thanks Adam for your enthusiasm and good luck.

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Corvids

Dear All: there is some interesting info on corvids via the link below.

It is hardly anecdotal!

http://www.audubon.org/magazine/march-april-2016/meet-bird-brainiacs-common-raven

Please forward the link to anyone interested.

John Fincham

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Cape and Bearded Vulture tracks

Dear All

Please find attached the movements of our Bearded Vultures; Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture; Bennie for the past week. Click here.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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

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

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Darvill Water Purification Plant Petermaritzburg

 Sunday 23rd April 2017

By John Bremner

Ten keen birders arrived at the waterworks at 7 am to be greeted with a heavy mist settled over the ponds, it was 11 deg C on my car’s temperature gauge, welcome to Petermaritzburg.

It didn’t take long for the mist to start lifting and we started our walk at the top pond near the Duzigrass fields. These were covered with Blacksmith Lapwings and Egyptian Geese. The top pond had only two Little Grebes ducking and diving as Grebes do, but other than that it was quiet.

As we turned down the first path we saw some movement amoung the reeds with a few LBJs flitting about very quietly. We noticed a group of at least 10 men coming over the lawns towards us with at least 20 hunting dogs in tow, these were of every shape and size and we thought that would put a halt to our birding, they passed us by and disappeared off down the path never to be seen again. Needless to say we would not be on the lookout for any small game animals.

As we got to the second pond things started to pick up when the Warblers started to call and we spent some time trying to distinguish which was which.

The pond was full of water birds of all different varieties and on the edges of the pond we saw African Jacana, Three-banded Plovers and a Black Crake.

African Stonechat

Sandi spotted some Kittlitz’s Plovers and then we spotted the Lesser Jacana on the far side of the pond. We did not get great views but we were sure that that is what we could see. We headed round to the other side seeing a variety of Weavers and Bishops in their drab non breeding plumage.

We spent some time trying to sort out what was what. Elena spotted an African Rail darting in and out of the reeds, it took some time but I think everyone got a glimpse, be it only a tail feather or two for some, sadly it did not show itself long enough for a photo but we could hear it calling.

We moved down the other side and saw a lovely Malachite Kingfisher and then spotted the Lesser Jacana again. I hung back taking photos of the Black-winged Stilts and some Red-billed Teal and as luck would have it the Lesser Jacana appeared right next to me and I was able to get some good photos of it.

Lesser Jacana

Lesser Jacana

We also got a fly past by a pair of South African Shelduck, which was most enjoyable.

South African Shelduck

The group was now ready for coffee so we headed back to the cars for some refreshment. While at tea break we still had work to do with a variety of Swifts and Swallows flying past as well as a variety of grassland birds in the nearby bushes and long grass. Three Crowned Cranes flew over, what a great sight.

Grey-crowned Cranes fly-past

After a half hour break Elena called time and we started a trek down to the river to see what else may show up.

We saw a few Cisticolas and a variety of other grassland birds. We hear the cry of a Fish Eagle and spotted a juvenile African Fish Eagle flying overhead.

African Fish-Eagle – juvenile

Not much was seen at the river however.

On our return to the cars we went past the bottom pond and were lucky enough to see the three Crowned Cranes at the waters edge, two adults and a juvenile, a really great sighting.

Grey-crowned Cranes – adult and juvenile

It was getting close to lunchtime by now so we went back to the cars for our lunch, chatted over what we had seen and made a bird list. All in all we recorded just over 60 different species, which we felt was not bad seeing all the migrants had already left us.

Thanks to everyone who came and a special thank you to Elena for leading us.

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Vulture Tracks

Dear All

Apologies once again but due to some technical challenges, you are receiving the vulture movements for the past three weeks in this email. To see the tracks over the past weeks click on each of the following links.

Vultures_3-10 April 2017

Vultures_10-18 April 2017

Vultures_17 to 24 April 2017

Hopefully we will be back to normal again with emails every Monday going forward for our Bearded Vultures: Jeremia, Pharaoh, InkosiYeentaka, Lehlwa, Mac, Kloutjie, Camo and Mollie and our Cape Vulture, Bennie.

Kind regards

Sonja Krüger

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

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

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Honeyguides

There is a new paper about Honeyguides via the link below. Please send the link to anyone who may be interested.

http://bo.adu.org.za/content.php?id=307

John Fincham

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Latest Wakkerstroom Newsletter

If you would like to read the latest Wakkerstroom Newsletter then click here.

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