Friday, 15 June 2018

UPCOMING OUTING: Mpenjati Nature Reserve, 24 June 2018

Dear Members & Friends
Malachite Kingfisher (photo Stan Culley)

Sunday 24 June at  7am. BIRDLIFE TROGONS will visit Mpenjati N.R.

Bring chairs, breakfast & something to braai for lunch.
ALL WELCOME. There is a R20pp charge for non-members of BirdLife Trogons.
Outings may be cancelled due to weather, check www.birdlifetrogons.blogspot.com or phone Hazel before setting off. For further details telephone Hazel on 072 355 8837.

PLEASE LET HAZEL KNOW IF YOU WILL BE ATTENDING THE OUTING

From the R61 meet at the Mpenjati South entrance gate. There is a R30 per person entrance fee, however this is negated if you have a Rhino Card.

Set GPS to DD MM SS.S  =  S30 58 18.2  E30 16 39.3

See you there!

Kind regards
Hazel van Rooyen
Secretary
BirdLife Trogons Bird Club

Friday, 8 June 2018

Outing report: Oribi Gorge and Vulture Viewing Hide, 27 May 2018



Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury, Graham & Sue Salthouse, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Jonathan Davidson, Louis & Pat Fourie, Lennart Erikssen, Andy Ruffle

Bird count:  39 (see end)                                                 Text: Hazel van Rooyen
Cape Vulture carrying nesting material (photo: HvR)

Darkness blanketed the hutted camp on our arrival and nothing stirred on the little dam except for Hadeda Ibises, still roosting in a dead tree nearby.  As we watched, one flock flew off, then another and another, letting the whole land know it was time to rise and shine.  By now, Yellow-billed Ducks, Village Weavers and a lone Reed Cormorant were also awakening.  Far away on a tree-top a Jackal Buzzard surveyed his world.  After checking in, we made our way across the grassland towards the gorge, surprising only a Cape Longclaw which flapped off.

Walking across the grassland to the gorge
Cape Rock Thrushes (photo HvR)


  
From the edge of the gorge we enjoyed the sight of Cape Rock Thrushes and Mocking Cliff Chats flitting amongst the rocky outcrop.  Good sightings were also had of Cape White-eye, Dusky Flycatcher, Grey Cuckooshrike, Southern Black Flycatcher, Black-headed Oriole and Black-collared Barbet.  Back at the huts, Olive and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds investigated an Erythrinia, hoping for nectar from early blossoms.

At our breakfast spot half-way down the gorge, Trumpeter Hornbills called in the valley while Terrestrial Brownbuls scolded from nearby bushes.  After a brief stop at the river bridge, we made our way up the other side of the gorge to where Andy was waiting to lead our convoy to the Cape Vulture hide.  Only a couple of old carcasses remained from an earlier feeding frenzy and the Vultures now glided towards us, seemingly in greeting.  On the gorge face nests were taking shape, with one partner fetching nesting material and the other guarding the nest – otherwise a cheeky neighbour would steal a few twigs.  As usual Andy Ruffle was an interesting exponent of all things Vulture.  Thanks once again, Andy.  
Cape Vulture soaring over the gorge (photo HvR)

3 nests (photo HvR)

Cape Vulture (photo HvR)

Apart from the vultures, up here we saw African Stonechat, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Pied Crow, Lanner Falcon, and Crowned Hornbill.

Eventually we dragged ourselves reluctantly away from the vultures and returned to the bottom of the gorge to light the fire for the braai.  A most enjoyable day was had by all.



Andy explains (photo HvR)

Oribi Gorge (photo HvR)


There is so much to learn (photo Lennart Eriksson)
Mountain Reedbuck (photo Lennart Eriksson)

The vulture bath is fed from a tank and cleaned regularly (photo Lennart Eriksson)


Guarding their nests (photo Lennart Eriksson)



 Species: 39
Barbet, Black-collared
Boubou, Southern
Brownbul, Terrestrial
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Buzzard, Jackal
Cameroptera, Green-backed
Chat, Familiar
Chat, Mocking Cliff
Cormorant, Reed
Crow, Cape
Crow, Pied
Cuckooshrike, Grey
Dove, Red-eyed
Dove, Tambourine
Dove, Turtle
Duck, Yellow-billed
Falcon, Lanner
Fiscal, Common
Flycatcher, Dusky
Flycatcher, Southern Black
Greenbul Sombre
Honeyguide, Lesser
Hornbill, Crowned
Hornbill, Trumpeter
Ibis, Hadedah
Longclaw, Cape
Oriole, Black-headed
Prinia, Tawny-flanked

Puffback, Black-backed
Raven, White-necked
Starling, Glossy
Starling, Red-winged
Stonechat, African
Sunbird, Greater Double-collared
Sunbird, Olive
Thrush, Cape Rock
Vulture, Cape
Weaver, Village
White-eye, Cape
Woodpecker, Golden-tailed


All photos property of photographer 

Friday, 1 June 2018

UPCOMING OUTING: Empisini Nature Reserve, Umkomaas

Dear Members & Friends
Black-headed Oriole (photo Stan Culley)


Sunday 10 June at 7.00am BirdLife Trogons will visit Empisini N.R. Umkomaas. 
Bring chairs, breakfast & something to braai for lunch.
ALL WELCOME.  There is a R20 pp charge for non-members of BirdLife Trogons.
Outings may be cancelled due to weather, check
www.birdlifetrogons.blogspot.com or phone Hazel before setting off.
For further details telephone  Hazel van Rooyen on 072 355 8837
or visit the blog.

PLEASE LET HAZEL KNOW IF YOU WILL BE ATTENDING THE OUTING

Directions:
Take the Umkomaas off-ramp from the N2 and meet at the roadside just over the bridge.
Set GPS to DD MM SS.S  =  S30 12 30.2   E30 46 35.3

Many thanks
Hazel van Rooyen
Secretary
BirdLife Trogons Bird Club

Friday, 18 May 2018

UPCOMING OUTING: Oribi Gorge NR

Dear Members & Friends
Knysna Woodpecker (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Sunday 27 May 2018 at 07:00 am BirdLife Trogons will visit Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve and the Vulture Viewing Hide.   Bring chairs, breakfast and something to braai for lunch.  All Welcome.  An entrance fee of R30 per person is payable but is negated if you have either a Rhino card or Wildcard – ensure you take it with you! There is a R20 pp charge for non-members of BirdLife Trogons. Outings may be cancelled due to weather.  Check www.birdlifetrogons.blogspot.com or phone Hazel van Rooyen before setting off. For further details **telephone  Hazel  on 072 355 8837.

** Please note we cannot respond to text messages or “call me” requests.

Directions:  Take N2 towards Harding, the Oribi Gorge N.R. turnoff is on the right just before Paddock.  Turn first left and meet at the KZN office at the hutted camp.

Set GPS to DD MM SS.S = S30 43 55.5  E30 16 24.0

PLEASE LET HAZEL KNOW IF YOU WILL BE ATTENDING THE OUTING


Sunday, 13 May 2018

Outing report: Umdoni Park, Pennington,13 May 2018


Attendees: Sandy Olver, Stan & Val Culley, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury, Graham & Sue Salthouse, Doug & Angie Butcher, Hazel Nevin, Stanley Gengan, Ros, Sandi & Eleanor from Port Natal Club, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen

Species: 41                                                                            Text: Hazel van Rooyen

Knysna Turaco (photo: HvR)

On the whole, our visit today was very quiet, although in the end we attained a tally of 41 species.
The people (photo: Doug Butcher)

Starting off with a walk from the Environmental Centre up the road, Red-capped Robin-Chat and White-bellied Sunbird were in evidence and the usual Trumpeter Hornbills flew around.  

The White-eared Barbets were not in their normal place but appeared later close to the houses.


White-eared Barbets (photo: HvR)
Wild Pink Tibouchina (photo HN)

Of interest throughout the park, especially in the Red Milkwoods were tent moth nests which look like bundles of spider webs.
Tent Moth nests (photo: Hazel Nevin)
Bark Spider (photo: Hazel Nevin)

Good sightings were had of Knysna Turacos and one group of people saw both Knysna and Purple-crested in the same tree.  Collared, Olive, Grey and Amethyst Sunbirds were all busy in the trees surrounding the houses and Southern Black Tit, Black-backed Puffpack, Lesser Honeyguide, Black Cuckooshrike and Paradise Flycatchers were seen in the large fig tree.
Knysna Turaco (photo: HvR)

Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird (photo: Hazel Nevin)

After breakfast we walked across the golf course (where we sighted a juvenile African Fish Eagle) to the Otter view. 

Searching the skies for raptors (photo: HvR)

Otter view (photo: HvR)

 Usually we see raptors here but the skies were clear today.  











Even the Green Twinspot didn't put in an appearance at the bird bath, although the Lemon Dove and Red-capped Robin Chat did.
Red-capped Robin-Chat (photo: Doug Butcher)

Stan caught this beautiful Blue Duiker in his lens.
Blue Duiker (photo: Stan Culley)

It was an enjoyable day with excellent company.

(All photos property of photographer)

Species:
Bullbul, Dark-capped
Robin-Chat, Red-capped
Sunbird, White-bellied
Wagtail, Pied
Drongo, Square-tailed
Ibis, Hadedah
Hornbill, Trumpeter
Dove, Red-eyed
Sunbird, Collared
Boubou, Southern
Starling, Black-bellied
Greenbul, Sombre
Turaco, Knysna
Sunbird, Olive
Stork, Woolly-necked
Dove, Tambourine
Sunbird, Grey
Woodpecker, Golden-tailed
Sunbird, Amethyst
Barbet, White-eared
Tit, Southern Black
Puffback, Black-backed
Honeyguide, Lesser
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
Cuckoo-Shrike, Black
Flycatcher, Paradise
Greenbul, Yellow-bellied
Turaco, Purple-cested
Eagle, African Fish
Drongo, Fork-tailed
Wood-hoopoe, Green
Oriole, Black-headed
Flufftail, Buff-spotted
Batis, Cape
White-eye, Cape
Dove, Lemon
Weaver, Dark-backed
Weaver, Spectacled
Flycatcher, Southern Black
Mannikin, Red-backed
Weaver, Thick-billed

Sunday, 6 May 2018

UPCOMING OUTING: UMDONI PARK, PENNINGTON



Dear Members and Friends

Sunday, 13 May at 07:00am BirdLife Trogons will visit Umdoni Park, Pennington.  Bring chairs, breakfast and something to braai for lunch.  All welcome.  There is a R20pp charge for non-members of BirdLife Trogons.  Outings may be cancelled due to weather, check this blogspot or phone Hazel before setting off.  

Please let Hazel know on 072 355 8837 if you will be attending the outing.

Directions:  Take N2 to Durban, take exit 93 for the R102 to Sezela.  Turn right onto R102. Travel 4.8 km, turn right onto Pennington Drive.  After 655m turn right onto Minerva Ave. Continue straight to Umdoni Park and meet at the Environmental Centre.

Sept GPS to DDMMSS.S = S30 23 32.2 E30 41 21.7

Kind regards
Hazel van Rooyen
Secretary
BirdLife Trogons Bird Club

Sunday, 22 April 2018

OUTING REPORT: Ellingham Estate, 22 April 2018

Grey Crowned Crane (photo HvR)
Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Margie Cowan, Hazel Nevin, Stanley Gengan, Ros Conrad and Andrew Warburton, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen

Species:  61                                                                                Text: Hazel van Rooyen
Early morning at Ellingham (photo HvR)

A successful morning's birding was had at Ellingham Estate, 62 species being identified.  Beginning the day with a walk towards the dams, some tall trees produced Southern Black Tit, Southern Black Flycatcher, Sombre Greenbull and White-eared Barbet.
White-eared Barbet (photo HvR)

Yellow-rumpted Tinkerbird (photo HvR)

 Collared Sunbird (photo HvR)

Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Thick-billed Weaver, Paradise Flycatcher, Black Cuckoo-Shrike, Southern Boubou, Black-backed Puffback and Collared Sunbird were also very active in the early morning sunshine.  

At the first dam a Malachite Kingfisher, 3-banded Plover and Cape Wagtail were spotted.  Around the corner a Long-crested Eagle surveyed the world from a a stand of casaurinas.  As we walked beneath some bushes reaching across the road two Grey Crowned Cranes were perched in the lower branches.  After observing for a while they inevitably flew off as we moved passed them, trumpeting as they went.
Grey Crowned Crane (photo HvR)

The next dam was home to Spurwing Geese.  An African Darter dried off its wings, catching the breeze from the top of a shrub on the island while some African Jacanas investigated the lily pads.  It was good to see them as they haven't been so prolific this summer.  

African Jacana (photo HvR)

Other birds seen in this area were Green Wood-hoopoe, Purple-crested Turaco, Black-collared Barbet, Black Saw-wing and Grey Heron.  A Pygmy Kingfisher was sitting on a branch by the water's edge but disappeared on our approach.

After breakfast we drove across the road to another dam but we couldn't find a good vantage point and only saw a couple of White-backed Ducks and these through the scope.  We tried a walk around the side but couldn't get closer.  Along this road we saw Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Fiscal Flycatcher, Amethyst Sunbird and White-fronted Bee-eater.
Little Bee-eater (photo HvR)
Hamerkop - can you do this with your head! (photo HvR)
Our next stop was the causeway where we parked and took a stroll around.  White-bellied Sunbird, Pied Wagtail, Red-backed Mannikin, Mountain Wagtail and a Jackal Buzzard were spotted.

As Hazel Nevin left she added Cape Glossy Starling and Violet-backed Starling to the list and as the stragglers left, we saw a Crowned Eagle.


Special thanks go to Stanley Gengan for collecting and returning the forms to Rocky Bay resorts, especially as he had to delay joining his family on a weekend in the Drakensburg. Thanks Stanley!

Species: 61
Tit, Southern Black 
Flycatcher, Southern Black 
Ibis, Hadedah
Greenbul, Sombre
Barbet, White-eared
Weaver, Thick-billed
Flycatcher, Paradise
Robin-Chat, Red-capped
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
Bushshrike, Orange-breasted
Cuckooshrike, Black
Boubou, Southern
Puffback, Black-backed
Sunbird, Collared
Longclaw, Yellow-throated
Kingfisher, Malachite
Dove, Tambourine
Dove, Red-eyed
Starling, Black-bellied
Drongo, Fork-tailed
Plover, 3-banded 
Cuckooshrike, Grey
Wagtail, Cape
Eagle, Long-crested
Canary, Yellow-fronted
Sunbird, Olive
Mannikin, Bronze
Crane, Grey Crowned
Darter, African
Goose Spurwing
Jacana, African
Woodhoopoe, Green
Hornbill, Trumpeter
Goose, Egyptian
Turaco, Purple-crested
Barbet, Black-collared
Moorhen, Common
Saw-wing, Black
Heron, Grey
Hamerkop
Kingfisher, Pygmy
Greenbull, Yellow-bellied
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Kite, Black-shouldered
Goose, Spurwing
Bee-eater, Little
Duck, White-backed
Kingfisher, Brown-hooded
Flycatcher, Fiscal
Sunbird, Amethyst
Sunbird, White-bellied
Buzzard, Jackal
Wagtail, Pied
Mannikin, Red-backed
Wagtail, Mountain
Eagle, Crowned

(Photos property of H van Rooyen)






Saturday, 14 April 2018

UPCOMING OUTING: Ellingham Estate, Park Rynie, 22 April 2018

Spurwing Goose (photo by Stan Culley)

Sunday 22 April at 06h30 BirdLife Trogons will visit Ellingham Estate, Park Rynie. There is a R20pp entrance fee, which Stanley Gengan will collect at the outing on behalf of Rocky Bay Resorts together with signed indemnity forms. Bring chairs, breakfast and something to braai for lunch. ALL WELCOME. There is a R20pp charge for non-members for BirdLife Trogons. Outings may be cancelled due to weather, check www.birdlifetrogons.blogspot.co.za or phone Hazel van Rooyen on 072 355 8837 before setting off. For further details telephone Hazel or visit the blog. Please note we cannot respond to text messages or "call me" requests.

PLEASE LET HAZEL KNOW BEFOREHAND IF YOU WILL BE ATTENDING THE OUTING.

Directions: Take the Umzinto/Park Rynie offramp from the N2. Turn inland, towards Umzinto. The very first farm on your left is Ellingham. Meet near the paddock but please do NOT enter.
Set GPS to DD MM SS.S = S30 18 53.2 E30 42 54.6

Thanking you
Kind regards
Hazel van Rooyen
Secretary BirdLife Trogons Bird Club

Sunday, 8 April 2018

OUTING REPORT: Lake Eland Nature Reserve, 8 April 2018

Attendees: Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury, Danie & Bella du Toit, Robin Eccles & Hanli Kloppers, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen joined for the braai only with family

Species:  41

A good morning was spent at Lake Eland Nature Reserve.  Thanks go to Andy Ruffle who negotiated a discount for members.  




Species Waxbill, Blue
Turaco, Knysna
Starling, Black-bellied
Barbet, Black-collared
Mousebird, Speckled
Dove, Tambourine
Drongo, Ford-tailed
Prinia, Tawny-flanked
Tinkerbird, Red-fronted
Weaver, Thick-billed
Cameroptera, Green-backed
Wagtail, Cape
Kingfisher, Brown-hooded
Weaver, Dark-backed
Wagtail, Pied
Kingfisher, Malachite
Eagle, African Fish
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Straling, Red-winged
Weaver, Spectacled
Dove, Red-eyed
Dove, Speckled
Canary, Forest
Heron Grey
Goose, Egyptian
Crow, Pied
Guineafowl, Helmeted
Raven, White-necked
Weaver, Village
Sunbird, Amethysst
Canary, Yellow-fronted
Neddicky
Stonechat, African
Ibis, Hadedah
Coucal, Burchell's
Longclaw, Cape
Pipit, African
Francolin, Red-winged
Crane, Grey-crowned
Vulture, Cape
Apalis, Bar-throated




Monday, 2 April 2018

UPCOMING OUTING: 8 April 2018 - Lake Eland Nature Reserve

 
Long-crested Eagle (photo: Stan Culley)
Dear Members & Friends

Sunday  8 April 06:30 am BirdLife Trogons will visit Lake Eland Nature Reserve.  Bring chairs, breakfast and something to braai for lunch.  ALL WELCOME.  There is a R20pp charge for non-members of BirdLife Trogons.  Entrance charge to Lake Eland is  R40  for pensioners and R60 adults.
 
Outing may be cancelled due to the weather, check www.birdlifetrogons.blogspot.com or phone Hazel on 072 355 8837 before setting off.  Please note we cannot respond to text messages or "call me" requests.
 
PLEASE LET HAZEL KNOW IF YOU WILL BE ATTENDING THE OUTING.
 
From Port Shepstone take N2 to Harding. Just before Murchison Hospital turn right into road signposted Oribi Flats East.  Proceed down the hill passed NPC factory, then the road climbs up to Oribi Flats. Keep straight on to Lake Eland which is well signed.  Set GPS to DD MM SS.S  =  S30 41 35.7   E30 10 42.8


Kind regards
Hazel van Rooyen
Secretary
BirdLife Trogons

Saturday, 24 March 2018

CANCELLED: Outing 25 March 2018 to Bushbuck Trail, Southbroom

Dear all

Due to an adverse weather forecast and not much interest we have made an early decision to cancel tomorrow's outing.  My apologies if you were thinking of coming along.

Kind regards
Hazel van Rooyen
Secretary
BirdLife Trogons
 

Monday, 19 March 2018

AWAY TRIP REPORT: ST LUCIA - 19-23 MARCH 2018





Participants: Sandy Olver, Margaret Jones, Doug & Angie Butcher, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury, Graham & Sue Salthouse, Stan & Val Culley, Robin Eccles, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen 

Species: 132                                                                             Text: Hazel van Rooyen


Monday:  Arriving at St Lucia Wilds more or less all at the same time, we scuttled about off-loading luggage and quickly got settled in so that we could suss out our surroundings.  Livingston’s Turaco and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird competed for The Voice.  We then visited the ski-boat club where the verandah overlooked the estuary.  On the opposite side a Goliath Heron stood in the shallows along with Pink-backed Pelican, Grey Heron and Black-winged Stilts, amongst others.  Taking the popular boardwalk brought us closer to more waders – African Spoonbill, Little Egret, Ruff, Whimbrel and White-winged Terns.  
Pink-backed Pelican (photo HvR)

An African Pipit skittered about the sand dunes (photo HvR)












An immature African Fish Eagle hunted over the estuary (photo HvR













A Spotted Flyctacher at our accommodation (photo HvR)

Tuesday:  In the morning we got an early start into Isimangaliso Wetland Park but Crested Guineafowl were even earlier, rushing hither and thither (as they do) around the grassy area outside our chalets.  Once in the park, White-eared and Black-collared Barbets were very visible and soon Amethyst and Scarlet-chested Sunbirds along with Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters were showing off their iridescent plumage. 
Scarlet-chested Sunbird (photo HvR)

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (photo HvR)

Amongst all the activity, a Diederik’s Cuckoo caught a juicy caterpillar (photo HvR




Woolly-necked Stork (photo HvR)
The water had receded greatly since our last visit but following a loop we came to iZindondwe Pan which at first glance looked deserted but on closer inspection we picked up a Wood Sandpiper, African Jacana, Black Crake on the periphery while a Woolly-necked Stork peeped out of the tall sedges.  A Black-chested Snake Eagle soared regally above us.  Moving along, a family of Amur Falcons looked settled in a leafless tree and a few minutes later we drove passed a Brown Snake Eagle perched in another tree.

Amur Falcons (photo Stan Culley)
Amur Falcon Male (photo HvR)


Amur Falcon Female (photo HvR)

Black-chested Snake Eagle (photo Stan Culley)

Bushbuck (photo HvR)
Breakfast had been planned for the hide at Mfazana Pan but the water was so far away we decided to picnic at Mission Rocks beneath the shady thorn trees.  Bushbuck and Duiker foraged creating an idyllic atmosphere. 
Relaxing at Mission Rocks (photo DB)

Breakfast in a shady spot (photo Doug Butcher))

Breakfast (photo Doug Butcher)


At Catalina Bay we stopped to enjoy the view.  A pair of Buffalo stood drowsily cooling off in the lake.  Bliss!
Buffalo enjoying a cool siesta (photo HvR)


Brown Scrub-Robin (photo Stan Culley)


Moving on to Cape Vidal, Cape & Pied Wagtail were busy amongst the holiday makers and a shy Brown Scrub Robin caught Stan’s sharp eyes.  Driving back slowly via the Red dunes, Senegal Lapwing posed obligingly and a single Red-backed Shrike balanced on the telephone wires.  
Senegal Lapwing (photo Stan Culley)
Red-backed Shrike (photo HvR)

View from Mission Rocks (photo HvR)
A herd of Buffalo gazed lazily at us, chewing their cud and letting Red-billed Oxpeckers groom them.
Red-billed Oxpeckers (photo HvR)

Red-billed Oxpeckers (photo Doug Butcher)














Later in the afternoon Stanley & Asothie, Bob and I took a walk in the iGwalagwala Forest which was next to our accommodation.  We were looking for the African Broadbill which we actually found -  hoorah! (Unfortunately no photo)

Assassin Bugs (photo HvR).

Assassin Bugs, in camouflage outfits, enjoyed an orange-coloured fruit.  It was very humid after a very hot day and going round in circles, we almost got lost.  We had just found the road when Barrie & Sue drove by on their way to the ski-boat club for drinks. 

Thankfully he offered us a lift back and we all managed to get into his spacious new car.








Yellow-breasted Apalis (photo HvR)
Rudd's Apalis (photo HvR)



Wednesday morning dawned sunny and breezy and the whole group gathered for another walk in the Forest.  Black-backed Puffback and Square-tailed Drongo chortled and whistled and a Dark-backed Weaver performed somersaults in his immaculate yellow and black suit, swinging upside-down looking for tasty grubs.  We were eyeing up several small birds flitting in the thicket when we realised one was the Woodward’s Batis.  How thrilled were we!  Another Lifer for most of us.  The Rudd’s Apalis was another of the little darting birds along with Yellow-breasted Apalis.
   
Golden-tailed Woodpecker (photo HvR)

A Golden-tailed Woodpecker squawked loudly and a Crowned Hornbill came to see greet us.  Then we espied a pair of Yellow-bellied Greenbulls feeding two hungry chicks on a nest.  That was very special.  

 Yellow-bellied Greenbull chick (photo Sue Salthouse)








In the open grassy area a beautiful Flame Tree was in full flower.
Natal Flame Tree (photo HvR)

Home then to breakfast, after which most of us set off for a trip up the Western Shores.  This was rather disappointing  as regards birdlife except for a large flock of Collared Pratincoles on the dirt road which kept flying up as the vehicles approached, only to land a few paces further on, and nearly always facing away from us. 
Collared Pratincole (photo HvR)

A Wattled Lapwing and Common Fiscal were also seen.  Arriving at the aerial boardwalk we were glad to have a snack break in a shady glade.  The short boardwalk was very pretty with lovely views at the end.  Intermediate Egrets were spotted and Barrie and Sue saw an African Marsh Harrier hunting over the reed beds.  A Terrestrial Brownbul complained crossly from the understory.
Aerial Boardwalk (photo HvR)

Aerial Boardwalk (photo HvR)



Lilac-breasted Roller (photo HvR)

Herd of Blou Wildebeest (photo HvR)
Lilac-breasted Roller (photo Stan Culley)
In the meantime the Butcher party off four had caught up with us.  They had cleverly followed the one way detour and had seen Banded Martin and Martial Eagle, plus a single elephant.  
Martial Eagle (photo Doug Butcher)

Pied Crow (photo Doug Butcher)
Driving back the heat was intense and the only birds seen were African Pipit and European Roller.  A herd of Blou Wildebeest lazily looked on, such a quintessential sight of the African bushveld.

On Thursday morning, our last day, we breakfasted first then ventured onto the beach dune walk, managing to see Curlew Sandpiper, White-fronted and Grey Plovers plus Little Stint but then the rain came down and we rushed for shelter beneath some bushes.  It soon stopped and only a bit damp,  some of us ventured further on but soon it started up again and eventually we had to give in and went home, wet tails between our legs, to get into dry clothes.
African Jacana, Juv (photo HvR)

Wood Sandpiper (photo HvR)

Common Ringed Plover (photo HvR)
Undeterred, the Ponds were our next port of call, brave souls that we are! (It was a bit stinky).  An immature African Jacana, a company of White-faced Ducks, 3-banded Plover, Wood Sandpiper and Common Ringed Plover  were seen while White-faced Bee-eaters graced the air and Wire-tailed Swallows congregated on dead sticks in the middle of the pond.
Wire-tailed Swallows (photo HvR)
3-banded Plovers (photo Doug Butcher)

Then, taking a risk with the weather, some of us decided to give the estuary beach another chance.  This was worth the effort, adding several species to our list – Swift Tern, Grey-headed Gull, Water Thickknee, and Lesser-crested Tern.  We had a long return walk - all of two km’s but heavy going across the sand (especially for Stan with his scope) and eventually we called it a day and returned to those waiting patiently in the cars.  
Top R: Swift Tern/ Middle L: Lesser Crested Tern (photo HvR)

Swift Terns (photo HvR)

Grey-headed Gull (photo HvR)

Intrepid bird watchers (photo HvR)
Water Thick-knee (photo HvR)

Caspian Terns (photo HvR)

Curlew Sandpipers, transitioning into breeding plumage (photo HvR)

As we got home the rain started in earnest and didn’t let up till the following morning when we had to leave anyway.  The guys still managed to braai and they must be thanked for cooking for us every night.  Also thanks to Imelda and her team at St Lucia Wilds for making us so at home.  The units lacked for nothing and everything worked!  The swimming pool was most welcome too.  We didn’t see the hippo which sometimes takes a short cut through their property but Sue & Barrie encountered him (or her) on the street on their way to their accommodation one dark and lonely night - must have been a shock.  

Thanks to all participants and helped make the trip so pleasant and share their vast knowledge, especially Stan Culley. Everyone agreed that it was a successful trip.  Stan commented that overall some species were conspicuous by their absence, such as flycatchers, mannikins and waxbills.  Graham must have got the most Lifers – at least 19-plenty!  He still didn’t get his “Tufted" Flufftail (and mostly likely never will) but he gave us a lot of laughs.  I wonder what our next trip holds.
Curlew Sandpipers take off (photo HvR)

A swirl of Sandpipers (photo HvR)


Searching ... searching (photo Doug Butcher)

Visibility was poor (photo Doug Butcher)

Straggling along (photo HvR)
Drinks at the ski-boat club (photo by waiter)




4 Caspian Terns & 1 Swift Tern (photo Doug Butcher)

Bird List
Apalis, Rudd’s
Apalis, Yellow-breasted
Barbet, Black-collared
Barbet, Crested
Barbet, White-eared
Batis, Woodwards
Bee-eater, Blue-cheeked
Bee-eater, European
Bee-eater, Little
Bee-eater, White-fronted
Boubou, Southern
Broadbill, African
Brownbull, Terrestrial
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Bush-shrike, Gorgeous
Bush-shrike, Orange-breasted
Cameroptera, Green-backed
Canary, Brimstone
Canary, Yellow-fronted
Cisticola, Croaking
Cisticola, Rattling
Cisticola, Zitting
Cormorant, Reed
Cormorant, White-breasted
Coucal, Burchell’s
Crake, Black
Cuckoo, Diederick’s
Cuckoo, Klaas’s
Cuckooshrike, Grey
Dove, Emerald-spotted
Dove, Red-eyed
Drongo, Fork-tailed
Drongo, Square-tailed
Duck, White-faced
Duck, Yellow-billed
Eagle, African Fish
Eagle, Black-chested Snake
Eagle, Brown,
Eagle, Martial
Egret, Intermediate
Egret, Little
Falcon, Amur
Fiscal, Common
Fly-catcher, Spotted



Goose, Egyptian
Goose, Spurwing
Greenbul, Sombre
Greenbul, Yellow-bellied
Guineafowl, Crested
Guineafowl, Helmeted
Gull, Common
Gull, Grey-headed
Harrier, African Marsh
Hawk, African Harrier
Heron, Goliath
Heron, Grey
Heron, Purple
Honeyguide, Greater
Hornbill, Crowned
Hornbill, Trumpeter
Ibis, Hadedah
Jacana, African
Kingfisher, Brown-hooded
Kingfisher, Pygmy
Lapwing, Blacksmith
Lapwing, Senegal
Lapwing, Wattled
Longclaw, Yellow-throated
Martin, Banded
Martin, Sand
Oxpecker, Red-billed
Pelican, Pink-backed
Pipit, African
Plover, 3-banded
Plover, Common Ringed
Plover, Grey
Plover, Kitlitz
Plover, White-fronted
Pratincole, Collared
Prinia, Tawny-flanked
Puffback, Black-backed
Robin, Brown Scrub
Robin-Chat, Red-capped
Roller, European
Ruff
Sanderling
Sandpiper, Curlew
Sandpiper, Wood


Saw-wing, Black
Shrike, Red-backed Shrike
Sparrow, Grey-headed
Sparrow, House
Spoonbill, African
Starling, Black-bellied
Stilt, Black-winged
Stint, Little
Stork, Saddle-billed
Stork, Woolly-necked
Sunbird, Amethyst (M&F)
Sunbird, Collared
Sunbird, Grey
Sunbird, Olive
Sunbird, Purple-banded
Sunbird, Scarlet-chested
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Wire-tailed
Swamphen, African
Swift, African Palm
Swift, Common
Swift, Little
Swift, White-rumped
Teal, Red-billed
Tern, Caspian
Tern, Common
Tern, Lesser-crested
Tern, Little
Tern, Sandwich
Tern, White-winged (black)
Thickknee, Water
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
Turaco, Livingston’s
Turaco, Purple-crested
Wagtail, Cape
Wagtail, Pied
Weaver, Dark-backed
Weaver, Spectacled
Weaver, Thick-billed
Whimbrel, Common
Whydah, Pin-tailed
Woodpecker, Golden-tailed


All photos property of photographers