Boston Outing

Report by Crystelle Wilson

Sunday 24 January 2016

The garden at Gramarye farm at Boston in the KZN Midlands benefitted from recent good rains and provided a flurry of feathered activity before we set off for the river.

Pin-tailed Whydah lorded it over the bird table, keeping sparrows and Village Weavers at bay.

Pin-tailed Whydah
Pin-tailed Whydah

Speckled Mousebird, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape White-eye were among the resident birds at their regular hangouts.

The Fan-tailed Widowbirds, Southern Red Bishops, Levaillant’s Cisticolas and African Stonechat were noisily busy in the vegetation along the path.

Levaillant's Cisticola
Levaillant’s Cisticola

Then the call went out to check out a Red-collared Widow perched on tall grass. Instead of a red collar, it had a yellow collar, a rare occurrence.

Dave Rimmer explained: “This colour anomaly is called Xanthochromism which presents as red pigment being replaced with yellow pigment. It is exactly the same genetic mutation that gives rise to the yellow forms of the Crimson-breasted Shrike or the Black-collared Barbet.”

The Little Rush and African Reed Warblers were very busy and gave good displays.

From the height of the platform we had excellent views over the grasslands. Noticing Cape Weavers, Fan-tailed Widowbirds, and a Yellow-crowned Bishop.

Decklan Jordaan built on his reputation as an owl spotter by pointing out a Spotted Eagle-Owl very well hidden behind branches in a willow tree along the river and then spotted a Barn Owl just further along.

A number of other birds were spotted on the walk through the grasslands.

There were much by way of plants and other creatures to intrigue people.

On the way back the resident pair of Grey Crowned Cranes was seen, but sadly with only one chick. On Friday evening I photographed the family with three chicks. On Monday morning I could confirm that there was only one chick remaining with the parents.

Once again we finished off the morning with a walk in the forest at Boschberg Cottages. On the way there were about three White Storks in one of the pastures.

White Stork - Decklan Jordaan.
White Stork – Decklan Jordaan.

Bush Blackcap was one of the highlights, while Cape Batis, Bar-throated Apalis, Sombre Greenbul and Terrestrial Brownbul also put in appearances as well as White-starred Robin-Chat and Purple-crested and Knysna Turacos.

My SABAP2 atlas list for pentad 2935_3000 had close to 80 species for the day.

Crystelle Wilson

Photos care of: Crystelle Wilson, Hennie and Decklan Jordaan, and the unacknowledged above by Paul Bartho

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BLPN outing to Boston 25 January 2015

THE outing began at the Gramarye smallholding at 07h00 on a very hot day. The garden provided a good start with a number of birds and then about a dozen of us walked down to the river.

There was plenty of birding activity starting with a Red-throated Wryneck.

In the tall grass there were Fan-tailed and Red-collared Widowbirds flitting around, Levaillant’s Cisticolas and Common and Orange-breasted Waxbills. Along the stream there were Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, African Reed and Little Rush Warblers. Hadeda and Sacred Ibis, Burchell’s Coucal, Cattle Egret, Red-eyed and Cape Turtle-Dove, African Stonechat, Cape Grassbird, all contributed to make up the numbers.

Heard, but not seen, were African Rail and Red-chested Flufftail. The highlight for Hennie and Decklan Jordaan was catching a glimpse of a large bird disappearing in the trees, pursuing it across the river and finding a Barn Owl which Decklan photographed.

Barn Owl - Decklan
Barn Owl – Decklan

And another surprise – photographed by Decklan.

Cuckoo Finch- Decklan
Cuckoo Finch- Decklan

On the way back we saw one of the Grey Crowned Cranes currently nesting in a pan in the wetland feeding in a home paddock next to the garden.

Driving to the forest cottages on Boston View farm we saw several Amur Falcons, a pair of Lanner Falcons, a Rock Kestrel and a Steppe Buzzard.

At Boston View we parked at Bottom Cottage . From there we did a forest walk.

The forest walk provided a change of habitat and we had to focus on hearing birds as much as trying to see them. Bar-throated Apalis, Green-backed Camaroptera, Sombre Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Cape Batis were amongst the birds marked as present, while another highlight was Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher.

Then it was lunch on the verandah of the cottage overlooking a dam, where an inexhaustible Decklan checked out the frogs as well.

And then it was time to leave Bottom Cottage.

The Moon
The Moon

On my SABAP2 atlas list I notched up over 60 species which included a pair of African Fish-Eagles circling Gramarye after we had returned home.

African Fish-Eagle - Decklan
African Fish-Eagle – Decklan

Crystelle Wilson