Sunday, 12 November 2017

Outing report: Burchell's Coucal Eco Trail, Amanzimtoti - 12 November 2017



Attendees: Sandy Olver, Hazel Nevin, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Alastair Warman, Robin Eccles, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen

Species: 62

Water Thicknee (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

The Burchell’s Coucal Eco Trail was a new venue for the club to try out and it certainly proved worth the effort.  It was quite easy to find and very safe, the entrance being in a business park with security.  We heard it was a 4km trail but it took us a good two hours to cover one and a half kilometres, there was so much to see.  

Little Bee-eater (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Brown-hooded Kingfisher (photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Southern Red Bishop (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
After signing into the business park, we drove around the back and parked on the banks of the Illovo River.  Next to the parking there was a grassy area and an open barn-type structure providing shelter and benches.  Approaching the river we disturbed a family of Water Thick-knees, which flew across the river, landing on a stony patch of sand on the opposite bank.  We spent a while scanning the river and quickly identified Little Bee-eater, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Southern Red Bishop and more.  Yellow-billed Kites were numerous, two or three at a time, swooping up and down the river looking for fish. 
African Fish Eagle (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Occasionally an African Fish Eagle would also fly over the river.  Proceeding through the gate onto the trail proper, Sandy identified the call of a cisticola as that of a Rattling Cisticola., while Bob spotted a Red-throated Wryneck.  

Red-throated Wryneck (photo Hazel Nevin)


In places short bamboo fences had been erected on hillocks, providing a simple hide-like view of the river where a large flock of Egyptian Geese with the odd White-breasted and Reed Cormorant rested on a sandbank.  Little Swifts, Lesser-striped and White-throated Swallows and Black Saw-wings performed their aerial acrobatics over the waterway. 
Lesser-striped Swallow (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Egyptian Geese (photo Hazel van Rooyen)


Grey-headed Sparrow (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
After walking for quite a while we started to show signs of dehydration and returned to the business park, the barn provided an excellent shelter as the day had turned surprisingly sunny and hot.  After coffee we started up the trail again but one didn’t need to go far to see a variety of birds – Trumpeter Hornbill, House and Grey-headed Sparrow, Cape White-eye, Yellow-throated Longclaw, amongst others.
Yellow-throated Longclaw (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Klaas's Cuckoo (photo Hazel Nevin)















The mix of trees and grasses and the odd dead tree next to the sandy river created a wonderful habitat for a large variety of birds.  Black-headed and Grey Heron were spotted at the same time as Common Waxbill and Yellow-fronted Canary.  We enjoyed good sightings of both Diederik’s and Klaas’s Cuckoos and even saw the trail’s namesake, a Burchell’s Coucal.  Just as Sandy, Hazel and Alastair were leaving, Robin, who had been watching a Giant Kingfisher from the parking area, suddenly caught sight of a Fish Eagle which had caught a large fish.  Hazel Nevin got this shot of the Fish Eagle with its prey.
African Fish Eagle (photo Hazel Nevin)



Goliath Heron (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
After our picnic we called it a day but as we were leaving Robin spotted a Goliath Heron up the river on a sandbank and as we watched it tried to get some speed up to take off but changed its mind it seemed.  An entertaining end to an entertaining day! Thanks go to the guys who put photos on Andrew’s website, thereby bringing this gem to our attention.

For future reference there is a cafe open 7 days a week if anyone is in too much of a rush to bring food.

(All photos property of photographer)                                  Text: Hazel van Rooyen

Species identified: 62
Barbet, Black-collared
Barbet, Crested
Bee-eater, Little
Bishop, Southern Red
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Camaroptera, Green-backed
Canary, Yellow-fronted
Cisticola, Rattling
Cormorant, Reed
Cormorant, White-breasted
Coucal Burchell’s
Cuckoo, Didericks
Cuckoo, Klass’s
Darter, African
Dove, Red-eyed
Drongo, Fork-tailed
Duck, Yellow-billed
Eagle, African Fish
Firefinch, African
Fiscal, Common
Fly-catcher, Southern Black


Goose, Egyptian
Goose, Spurwing
Greenbull, Sombre
Heron, Black-headed
Heron, Goliath
Heron, Grey
Hornbill, Trumpeter
Ibis, Hadedah
Ibis, Sacred
Kingfisher, Brown-hooded
Kingfisher, Giant
Kingfisher, Pied
Kingfisher, Pygmy
Kite, Yellow-billed
Lapwing, Blacksmith
Longclaw, Yellow-throated
Mousebird, Speckled
Plover, 3-banded
Prinia, Tawny-flanked
Saw-wing, Black
Sparrow, Grey-headed
Sparrow, House
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Lesser-striped
Swallow, White-throated
Swift, Little
Thick-knee, Water
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
Turaco, Purple-crested
Wagtail, Cape
Wagtail, Pied
Waxbill, Common
Weaver, Cape
Weaver, Spectacled
Weaver, Village
Weaver, Yellow
White-eye, Cape
Whydah, Pin-tailed
Widowbird, Fan-tailed
Widowbird, Red-collared
Wryneck, Red-throated
 

Friday, 3 November 2017

UPCOMING OUTING: Burchell's Coucal Eco Trail - 12 November 2017

Dear Members
Burchell's Coucal (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Sunday 12 November 06:30 am BirdLife Trogons Bird Club will visit Burchell’s Coucal Eco Trail in Amanzimtoti.  Bring chairs, breakfast and a picnic lunch, NOTE NO BRAAI.  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 van Rooyen 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.  
 PLEASE LET HAZEL KNOW IF YOU WILL BE ATTENDING THE OUTING.
Meet at the Shell Ultra City garage South Coast (N2 North, heading towards Durban, ie travelling from South to North) at 06:30 and we will go in convoy from there.

Kind regards
Hazel van Rooyen
Secretary
BirdLife Trogons Bird Club

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Outing Report: Culley's Dam and Old Pont, Umtamvuna River Walk - 22 October 2017




Culley's Dam (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Attendees:  Stan & Val Culley, Margie & Clive Cowan, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury, Richard & Margaret, Alastair Warman, Graham & Sue Salthouse, Doug & Angie Butcher, Irma Smook, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Danie & Bella du Toit, Dave Bishop & Barbaroza Bernaldo, Eric Kok, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen (23)

Species:  59 (see below)                                                  Text: Hazel van Rooyen

Happily we were blessed with a beautiful sunny morning for our outing last Sunday.  Having met up at Banners Rest, we proceeded, for a change, down towards the Old Pont where we walked through primeval riverine forest, which had somehow managed to grow amidst massive boulders that had tumbled down the bank of the gorge over millennia.
 
Bobby led the way, fending off the spider webs with a long stick.  Most of the many different trees were labelled and trail directions were clearly marked by pretty pottery signs.



At the entrance a Crowned Hornbill flew over to see if we had anything tasty for it (no) and a Water Thick-knee family used a quiet corner of the adjacent complex as their home base. 
Water Thick-knee (photo: Doug Butcher)
A Burchell’s Coucal glug, glug, glugged in the distance while a Black-collared Barbet doo-puddlied close by.  Our presence startled a pair of Yellow-billed Ducks which flew off the river in a panic but the forest was very quiet.  Maybe the birds hadn’t returned since the river broke its banks two weeks ago.

We walked as far as the bridge and returned via the other half of the circular route which was a bit more open and sunny.  Here, a Green-backed Camaroptera was unusually visible, issuing its penetrating call from high in the top of a tree.  It kindly stayed while the photographers clicked happily away.
Green-backed Camaroptera (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Green-backed Camaroptera (photo: Doug Butcher)

Woolly-necked Storks (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Moving on to Culley Dam, we made ourselves comfortable on Stan & Val’s patio for our breakfast.  A Black Cuckoo called nearby “I’m so sad”.  Eric had arrived earlier and was keen to tell me all the birds he had seen, which included an African Darter and Black Crake.  These had made themselves scarce by the time we arrived.  But we did have the lovely sight of a graceful flock of nine Woolly-necked Storks circling over the dam.  Other birds seen were Little Rush Warbler, Hamerkop, Malachite Kingfisher and Common Waxbills entertained us swinging on the grasses.
Common Waxbill (photo: Doug Butcher)







Common Waxbills (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

After a great morning of bird-spotting in and out of the hides, we relaxed with a hearty braai, kindly made by Stanley and Barrie – with a little help from their friends, of course.

The Braai Masters - Stanley & Barrie (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Pin-tailed Whydah (photo: Doug Butcher
Lunch on Val's patio (photo: Doug Butcher)



Umtamvuna NR (24)
Culley Dam (35)
Barbet, Black-collared
Boubou, Southern
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Camaroptera, Green-backed
Coucall, Burchell’s
Dove, Tambourine
Drongo, Fork-tailed
Drongo, Square-tailed
Duck, Yellow-billed
Goose, Egyptian
Hornbill, Crowned
Hornbill, Trumpeter
Kite, Yellow-billed
Mousebird, Speckled
Oriole, Black-headed
Robin-Chat, Red-capped
Starling, Black-bellied
Sunbird, Amethyst
Sunbird, Olive
Thick-knee, Water
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
Turaco, Knysna
Turaco, Purple-crested
Weaver, Village

Canary, Yellow-fronted
Cormorant, Reed
Cormorant, White-fronted
Crake, Black
Cuckoo, Black
Darter, African
Dove Red-eyed
Firefinch, African
Goose Egyptian
Goose, Spurwing
Greenbul, Sombre
Hamerkop
Hornbill, Trumpeter
Kingfisher Giant
Kingfisher, Malachite
Longclaw, Yellow-throated
Mannikin Red-backed
Mannikin, Bronze
Oriole, Black-headed
Prinia Tawny-flanked
Sparrow, Grey-headed
Stork, Woolly-necked
Swallow, Lesser-striped
Swallow, White-throated
Swift African Palm
Swift White-rumped
Warbler, Little Rush
Waxbill, Common
Weaver Spectacled
Weaver, Cape
Weaver, Thick-billed
Weaver, Village
Weaver, Yellow
Whydah, Pin-tailed
Widowbird, Fan-tailed








All photographs property of photographer