Friday, 13 October 2017

UPCOMING OUTING: Culley Dam, Port Edward

Dear Members & Friends
Little Bittern (photo Stan Culley)

Sunday 22 October 6.30am. BIRDLIFE TROGONS will visit Culley’s Dam, Port Edward.   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 or phone Hazel before setting off.  For further details telephone**  Hazel van Rooyen on 072 355 8837 or visit the blog.  ** Please note we cannot respond to text messages or “call me” requests.
Take R61 to Port Edward. Turn right at the robots to iZingolweni. Meet at Banners Rest Bottle Store 1.5km on the
right opposite Old Pont Road.
Set GPS to DD MM SS.S  =  S31 03 05.8  E30 11 50.3
Hope to see you there!

Kind regards
Hazel van Rooyen
BirdLife Trogons Bird Club

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Outing Report: Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, 8 October 2017

Attending:  Sandy Olver, Stan & Val Culley, Graham & Sue Salthouse, Stanley Gengan, Robin Eccles, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen (9)

Species: 77  (see end)                                                    Text: Hazel van Rooyen

We started off our day hesitantly, like rabbits with noses twitching, testing the air for signs of adverse weather.  But all proved well with some lovely sunshine brightening up the landscape during the course of the day.  By the time we arrived Sandy was well into her spotting with a count of 15 species already to her credit, including White-eared Barbet, Southern Black Fly-catcher, Yellow-fronted Canary, Red-fronted Tinkerbird and Purple-crested Turaco.  Whilst we waited for everyone to arrive, a nearby mulberry tree proved too tempting for some starlings and barbets, even though the fruit was not ripe.  A Woolly-necked Stork flew across to some tall trees with its beak full of nesting material.

Everyone having arrived, we drove slowly towards the entrance gate stopping first at a spot with a small stream trickling close by. 
Yellow Weaver (Photo: Sue Salthouse)
Here we spotted Yellow, Weaver, Thick-billed Weaver, Little Swift, Lesser-striped Swallow, Natal Spurfowl, Jackall Buzzard, Green Pigeon, Little Rush Warbler and Violet-backed Starling. 

A pretty Layman butterfly settled on a Senecio plant while a bee hurried to join in.  
Layman Butterfly (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Where the road turned towards the reserve, we stopped again and investigated the farm road where Brown-hooded Kingfishers and Pin-tailed Whydah perched  high on the telephone wire.  A Brown Scrub-Robin sang sweetly in the indigenous shrubbery while Gorgeous Bush-Shrike  and Southern Boubou called from the taller trees.   Driving slowly along Common Waxbills and African Firefinches flew in front of us.  At the gate we stopped for our breakfast, listening to the cries of a Crowned Eagle and Trumpeter Hornbill.  Suitably fortified we began our visit to the reserve proper. 

Driving through forest of low-hanging branches an African Goshawk flashed across in hot pursuit of another bird.  It paused briefly on a branch before speeding off again.

Turning  towards the view site we were met by an expanse of grassland covered with the different hues of yellow, blue and purple wild flowers.  

A mutual friendship (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Looking for birds (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
It's a kinda Magic (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Up here we saw African Stonechat, Black-crowned Tchagra, and Croaking Cisticola.  When we had had our fill of the breath-taking view, we made our way passed a dam which was devoid of any activity as far we could see and moved along to the other dam which we walked around.  Yellow-throated Longclaw were in abundance in the grassland.  
Yellow-throated Longclaw (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

 A Greater Double-collared Sunbird provided a splash of colour in a dead bush at the edge of the dam.  An uncommon sight was a family of Black Saw-wings resting in a dead tree – they are usually always on the move.  A prinia was spotted in some tall dead-looking grasses in a soggy area which fed into the dam – ah, but not a Tawny-flanked, Sandy noted.  On closer examination it was identified as a Drakensburg Prinia which is not listed for this reserve.  This was an exciting finish to the day and a Lifer for some.  After finishing our walk, we picnicked at the edge of the woods on top of the hill and returned home having had an excellent day’s birding.  

A Wildebeest looks on (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Stan & Val added a Black Sparrowhawk to the list on their way out.

From main road up to entrance gate: Species 51
Barbet, Black-collared
Barbet, White-eared
Boubou, Sunbird
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Buzzard, Jackal
Camaroptera, Green-backed
Canary, Brimstone
Canary, Yellow-fronted
Cisticola, Red-faced
Coucal, Burchell’s
Dove, Red-eyed
Dove, Tambourine
Drongo, Fork-tailed
Drongo, Square-tailed
Firefinch, African
Flycatcher, Southern Black
Greenbul, Sombre

Greenbul, Yellow-bellied
Kingfisher, Brown-hooded
Kingfisher, Pygmy
Kite, Yellow-billed
Mousebird, Speckled
Oriole, Black-headed
Green-Pigeon, African
Prinia, Tawny-flanked
Robin, Brown Scrub
Shrike, Gorgeous Bush
Sparrow, Grey-headed
Spurfowl, Natal
Starling, Black-bellied
Starling, Red-wing
Starling, Violet-backed
Stork, Woolly-necked
Sunbird, Collared

Sunbird, White-bellied
Swallow, Lesser-striped
Swift, Little
Swift, White-rumped
Tinkerbird, Red-fronted
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
Turaco, Purple-crested
Wagtail, Cape
Warbler, Little Rush
Waxbill, Common
Weaver, Cape
Weaver, Spectacled
Weaver, Thick-billed
Weaver, Yellow
White-eye, Cape
Whydah, Pin-tailed
Widowbird, Red-collared

In addition: Inside the Reserve: Species 26
Batis, Cape
Cisticola, Croaking
Cisticola, Rattling
Eagle, Crowned
Goshawk, African
Honeyguide, Lesser
Hornbill, Crowned
Hornbill, Trumpeter
Ibis, Hadedah
Lark, Rufous-naped
Long-claw, Yellow-throated
Prinia, Drakensburg
Raven, White-necked
Saw-wing, Black
Seed-eater, Streaky-headed
Sparrowhawk, Black
Starling, Cape Glossy
Stonechat, African
Sunbird, Amethyst
Sunbird, Greater Double-collared
Tchagra, Black-crowned
Weaver, Village
Widowbird, Fan-tailed
Wood-Hoopoe, Green
Woodpecker, Golden-tailed


All photos property of photographer

Friday, 29 September 2017

UPCOMING OUTING: Vernon Crookes NR, 8 October 2017

Long-crested Eagle (photo Stan Culley)

Dear Members & Friends

Sunday 8 October 6.30am BIRDLIFE TROGONS will visit Vernon Crookes N.R.  There is a R30pp entrance fee which is negated with Rhino/Wild cards.  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 or phone Hazel van Rooyen before setting off.  For further details telephone**  Hazel van Rooyen 072 355 8837 or visit the blog.    ** Please note we cannot respond to text messages or “call me” requests.
Turn inland from the N2 at Park Rynie/Umzinto onto the R612. After 12 km turn right at the signpost for the reserve and meet here.
Set GPS to DD MM SS.S  =  S30 18 48.1  E30 37 18.9
Many thanks
Hazel van Rooyen
BirdLife Trogons

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Outing report: Uvongo River Conservancy & Skyline Nature Reserve, 24 September 2017

Yellow Weaver (photo Doug Butcher)
Attending:  Doug & Angie Butcher, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen

Species: 38  (see end)                                                                          Text: Hazel van Rooyen

After a damp week and a very wet Saturday, we took a chance on the weather and for once believed the weather-man when he said ‘more sun than clouds’.  Although we only caught intermittent glimpses of the sun, at least the rain kept away and the wind only blew in later.  Whilst waiting in the parking area for others to arrive we spotted Southern Black Flycatcher, Red-capped Robin Chat, Black-headed Oriole, Olive Sunbird and Olive Thrush, amongst others.

As we walked up the hill, curious Crowned Hornbills came to see what we were up to and the calls of Trumpeter Hornbills echoed through the forest.  Amethyst Sunbirds enjoyed the nectar of the crane-like flowers of Strelitzia Nicolai (Natal Wild Banana). The trail is very pretty and fairly well kept with paving stones in a lot of places and sturdy wooden bridges.  The little dams looked healthy with lots of lily-pads and plenty of water gurgling  in the rocky streams.  The first dam was home to a pair of Yellow-billed Ducks and Egyptian Geese which flew off at our approach. 

Yellow Weaver (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
At another dam Yellow and Thick-billed Weavers were building nests (aren’t they always so busy!).  At the edge of the dam, Angie noticed a Rafia Palm standing taller than the surrounding forest.  "Their blue-green leaves are the longest of any plant worldwide and can be over 9 metres long.  The tree dies after producing large oval fruit that take two years to mature.  These form part of the diet of the Palm-nut Vulture".[1]   Usually we only see these trees further up the North Coast.  
Thick-billed Weaver (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Rafia Palm (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Doug spotted this beautiful bug (photo Doug Butcher)

The forest opened into grassland which was sprinkled with spring flowers.   Black Saw-wing swooped and turned and an African Harrier Hawk flew over-head.  Returning to the cars for breakfast we passed this Cycad (I think) which was bursting with juicy red seeds.

After our breakfast, we drove around to the other side of the river where we had another walk, spotting most of the same birds, plus Southern Black Tit, Village Weaver, Speckled Mousebird, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Little Egret, Southern Boubou, Green Wood-Hoopoe and a White-eared Barbet which we have never seen this far south before.
White-eared Barbet (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Speckled Mousebird on Strelitzia Nicoli (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Although not a big specie count the types we did see were quite numerous, especially Olive Sunbirds and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds.

Barbet, Black-collared
Barbet, White-eared
Boubou, Southern
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Cameroptera, Green-backed
Canary, Yellow-fronted
Dove, Cape Turtle
Dove, Red-eyed
Drongo, Fork-tailed
Duck, Yellow-billed
Egret, Little
Flycatcher, Southern Black

Goose, Egyptian
Hawk, African Harrier-
Hornbill, Crowned
Hornbill, Trumpeter
Ibis, Hadedah
Ibis, Sacred
Kingfisher, Brown-hooded
Kite, Yellow-billed
Mannikin, Bronze
Mousebird, Speckled
Oriole, Black-headed
Prinia, Tawny-flanked
Robin-Chat, Red-capped

Saw-wing, Black
Sunbird, Amethyst
Sunbird, Olive
Thrush, Olive
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
Tit, Southern Black
Turaco, Knysna
Turaco, Purple,crested
Wagtail, Pied
Weaver, Thick-billed
Weaver, Village
Weaver, Yellow
Wood-hoopoe, Green

All photos property of photographer

[1] Sappi tree spotting for Kwazulu-Natal