Monday, 5 December 2011

Outing report- 4th December 2011 End of year function Umdoni Park

Enjoying the Impithi Beach Kiosk hospitality
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Attendees: Liz Blomeyer, Doug & Angie Butcher, Lennart Eriksson, Mike Fagan, Ray Furniss, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Evelyn Heunis, John Howe, Margaret Jones, Cathy Lee, Stan & Val Culley, Sandy Olver, Herbie & Jeanette Osborne, Hazel Parry, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Paul & Margaret Rose, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Ron & Elaine Whitham.

(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Birdlife Trogons Bird Club end of year function took place on Sunday 4th December, commencing with a bird walk through the enchanting forests of Umdoni Park in Pennington.
 Always a popular outing with Trogon's members and always offering rewarding 'birdies', one must however be on the look out for the occasional stray missile in the form of a golf ball, hurtling down a fairway. Thankfully, there are no avians named 'Fore'.
 Those who braved the early start, were rewarded with wonderful views of the pair of resident Crowned Eagles from the 'Otter View' site, which appears to be having a viewing deck constructed. Otherwise, it has to be said, the birds were rather scarce. Angie's meticulous scanning of the trees for a Narina Trogon regrettably proved fruitless, as did attempts to locate Green Malkoha's by other members of the group. Maybe next time Angie will be lucky.
However, all was definitely not lost. Lennart's explanation of the differences between a Dark-backed Weaver and Spectacled Weaver nest, resulted in a 100% success rate of the identification of any nests subsequently encountered. Well done all.
Stan Culley had a rather successful morning, despite being confined to the Enviro Camp due to a dodgy insect bite. He was able to capture some nice photos of the birds visiting the water feature, as you can see below.
With the birding complete, all headed off to the Mpithi Kiosk for our festive lunch and to meet up with those members who chose not to do the early walk..
Operated by Pennington Conservancy and manned by volunteers, the kiosk staff (along with Elaine) had laid on little extra touches to the table decorations to make it a truly festive occasion. As usual, the service and food was excellent and it is very satisfying to know that all profits go to conservation.
It was so nice to see our new members enjoying the occasion alongside well established members such as Ray Furniss.
A big thank you goes to the kiosk and it's volunteers and a huge thanks to Elaine whose wonderful organising skills ensured that this day was a very special occasion. 

Today's lesson, Weaver nest identification.
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Terrestrial Brownbul at the Enviro Centre
(Photo Stan Culley)

Brown Scrub-Robin at the Enviro Centre
(Photo Stan Culley)

Birds recorded: Hamerkop, Square-tailed Drongo, Olive Sunbird, Red-capped Robin-chat, Knysna Turaco, Brown Scrub-Robin, Dark-capped Bulbul, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, African Goshawk, Dark-backed Weaver, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Glossy Starling, Tambourine Dove, Hadeda Ibis, Terrestrial Brownbul, Green-backed Camaroptera, Egyptian Goose, African Paradise- Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Black-backed Puffback, Red-eyed Dove, Black-bellied Starling, Spectacled Weaver, Amethyst Sunbird, Lesser Striped-Swallow, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Yellow-fronted Canary, Southern Black Tit, Yellow-billed Kite, Sombre Greenbul, Little Swift, Cape White-eye, Lesser Honeyguide, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Crowned Hornbill, Spurwing Goose, Reed Cormorant, African Crowned Eagle, Olive Thrush, Collared Sunbird, Olive Woodpecker, Cape Batis, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Golden tailed Woodpecker, White-bellied Sunbird, Chinspot Batis. (46 species)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

**UPDATED ** 'Sooty Tern' found in Park Rynie

Text by Andy Ruffle, Photos by Bill Clarke

On 19th November 2011 Sandy Olver found this dead tern whilst walking on Park Rynie beach.
After proper inspection, it was realised that this appears to be a Sooty Tern.
Previously considered an uncommon vagrant, with only a few shore records reported, it is now known that flocks of 1000+ occur within territorial waters off the coast of KZN.

Unfortunately, the bird was not ringed, so we will never know where it originated from.
The specimen is now safely in Sandy's freezer awaiting preservation and confirmation of ID.

At the end of year function on 4th December, Sandy was able to confirm that she had taken the specimen to David Allan, the Curator of birds at the Durban Natural History Museum.
He immediatley identified the bird as a sub-adult Sooty Tern. The bird had not yet started it's moult and had extremely worn primary flight feathers. He believed the bird had been blown in by recent storms and was unable to make it back out to sea due to the poor state of it's wings, resulting in total exhaustion.

References: Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VII

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Outing report- Bushbuck Trail 27th November 2011

Attendees: Doug & Angie Butcher, Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, David Halle, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Ron & Elaine Whitham, Barry Willis and Sue Hansbury. (16 attendees)

Having being deferred from the previous week, due to weather, the conditions seemed slightly better for today's outing.
Arrival at the tennis courts however, didn't bode well for the day when Andy drove his car straight into a bog and needless to say got stuck. Fortunately, David Halle was able to tow the car out with a little help from some extra ballast in the form of willing members perched on the back of his bakkie.
Drama over, we commenced our walk through the Bushbuck Trail. It was then we learnt that the local pair of African Crowned Eagle and Juvenile had inexplicably disappeared. Was this a sign of the horrendous storm which hit the coast a few days later, or just conicidence?
Birding the forest was not particularly productive, but this did give David a chance to educate the members about the locality and the problems caused by alien invasive plants.
After breakfast, David showed us a new trail which has been laid in the Fredrika Reserve, a patch of coastal forest the other side of the golf course. Once again, not very birdy, but a lovely walk, very reminiscent of Mpenjati's coastal forest walks. We were fortunate to see an unusual species of Scadoxus for our area, Scadoxus membranaceus Dwarf Paintbrush, which was discovered during a thorough botanical survey of the reserve.
Unfortunately, the heavens opened as we returned to the tennis courts, putting an abrupt end to the outing.
It was very nice to see Trogons member David Halle on this outing. Hopefully we will see more of him in the future. Thanks David for your fascinating insights and for towing Andy out of the mud.

Birds recorded: Sombre Greenbul, Square-tailed Drongo, Cape White-eye, Olive Sunbird, Black-collared Barbet, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Black-bellied Starling, Southern Boubou, Spectacled Weaver, Green-backed Camaroptera, Black-headed Oriole, Burchell's Coucal, Black-backed Puffback, Knysna Turaco, Olive Thrush, Speckled Mousebird, Trumpeter Hornbill, Tambourine Dove, Fork-tailed Drongo, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Natal Spurfowl, Cape Wagtail, Blacksmith Lapwing, Red-winged Starling, Brown Scrub-Robin, Red-eyed Dove, Hamerkop, White Faced Duck, Egyptian Goose, Common Myna. (33 species)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

African Finfoot and White-backed Night-Heron Breeding in Umzumbe

Andrew Pickles has been able to document the nesting sites of both African Finfoot and White-backed Night-Heron on Hulley's Farm in Umzumbe.
For the full story with photos and a not so happy ending, see his blog post here.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

First ringing session of the season at Umzumbe Swallow roost ***UPDATED***

text by Andy Ruffle, photos by Andrew Pickles

Favourable weather Monday afternoon (14th Nov 2011) meant Andrew & Ivan Pickles were able to attempt their first ringing session of Barn Swallows at the Umzumbe Roost. The nets were up by 1730 and it wasn't long before barnies could be seen feeding over the adjacent sugar cane, before heading off to roost.
A total of 22 Barn Swallows (11 adults and 11 juveniles) were netted plus two Brown-throated Martins. Interestingly, the Brown-throated Martins proved to be one of each form- the normal form and the all brown underparts form. Unfortunately, no re-captures this time, but who knows what the rest of the season will reveal.

Brown-throated Martin dark form

Brown-throated Martin dark form

Brown-throated Martin pale form
Ringing of the Barn Swallows can be a last minute decision due to the unpredictable south coast weather, but if you would like to be notified about these sessions please let Andy Ruffle know.
There’s no better way of finishing a hectic day than relaxing watching the swallows as the sun goes down.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Outing report- Bird Ringing 13th November 2011 Andrew & Ivan Pickles, Umzumbe

Text & photos: Andy Ruffle

Attendees: Liz Blomeyer, Davina Campbell, Mike Fagan, Eric, Christine & Bradley Kok, Andy Ruffle.

It was another perfect morning for ringing on Sunday and a total contrast from the previous day's wind and rain.
First out of the nets was a Terrestrial Brownbul, but was unfortunately missed by the attendees. The early bird catches the worm guys.

Once again, the ringing session afforded us wonderful opportunities to observe some difficult to see species 'up close and personal'.
Check out the Olive Sunbird photo below. It was noted that some birds have an orange base to the bill. The bird is not a juvenile, therefore the coloration is not a gape. This appears on some birds, but not all, rather like the yellow wing patch of the male Black Cuckooshrike.
Of the 20 odd birds netted, we had five re-captures. Two Cape White-eyes which were ringed on 06/10/07 and 28/09/08 by Andrew & Ivan; plus a Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Terrestrial Brownbul and Collared Sunbird, for which we await further details from SAFRING.
One of the highlights of the morning was netting not one, but two juvenile Gorgeous Bush-shrikes in quick succession. We surmise that they were probably from the same brood. To top this, Liz and I had lovely views of a male bird whilst we braaing in Andrew & Ivan's garden.

Another highlight for the morning was being able to visit a nesting African Finfoot at one of our regular Trogon's venues. Very little is known about it's breeding, so this site may throw up some  interesting information.
The next ringing session will be on Sunday 11th December at Umzumbe floodplain. We thoroughly recommend you come along and attend these very educational mornings.

Common Waxbill
(Photo Andrew Pickles)
More often heard than seen, a Green-backed Camaroptera
White-browed Scrub-robin
White-browed Scrub-robin
Tambourine Dove
Tambourine Dove
Olive Sunbird (note the orange at the base of the beak)
1st Gorgeous Bush-shrike juvenile
2nd Gorgeous Bush-shrike juvenile
Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
Black-bellied Starling
Red-capped Robin-chat
Tawny-flanked Prinia

Birds on a stick

All these birds have been visiting one particular branch in Stan Culley's garden. Next please!!

Photos by Stan Culley

Black-collared Barbet
Pin-tailed Whydah
Village Weaver female
Village Weaver male
Cape White-eye
Cape Glossy Starling
Black-bellied Starling - note the ring
Red-winged Starling male
Red-winged Starling female
Amethyst Sunbird male
Dark-capped Bulbul

Fork-tailed Drongo
Bronze Mannikin
Black-headed Oriole immature

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

**UPDATED** Outing report Umbumbazi Nature Reserve 6th November 2011

(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Attendees: Doug & Angie Butcher, Shellique Carby, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Sue Hansbury, Margaret Jones, Hazel Parry, Andy Ruffle, Richard & Margaret Tyack, Ron & Elaine Whitham, Barry Willis. (14 attendees)

Southern Crowned Cranes
(Photo Doug Butcher)

Funnel Spider and web
(Photo Doug Butcher)

Zebra mare with foal
(Photo Doug Butcher)

Asclepias albans Cartwheels
(Photo Ron Whitham)

Birds recorded: Village Weaver, Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose, Common Starling, Common Myna, Grey Crowned Crane, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Emerald Cuckoo, Red-eyed Dove, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cape Glossy Starling, Neddicky, Cape White-eye, Hadeda Ibis, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Lesser Striped-Swallow, Green Wood-hoopoe, Fork-tailed Drongo, Burchell's Coucal, Lazy Cisticola, White-rumped Swift, Olive Sunbird, Sombre Greenbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Knysna Turaco, Black-backed Puffback, Trumpeter Hornbill, Black-collared Barbet, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Southern Boubou, Fan-tailed Widow, White-necked Raven, Red-collared Widow, Croaking Cisticola, Crowned Eagle, Red-winged Starling, Common Fiscal, Black Cuckoo, Black-headed Oriole, Green-backed Camaroptera, Square-tailed Drongo, Tambourine Dove, Dark-backed Weaver, Crowned Hornbill, African Stonechat, Yellow-billed Kite, Olive Thrush, Bar-throated Apalis, Yellow-fronted Canary, Common Waxbill, Lanner Falcon, White-bellied Sunbird, Tawny-flanked Prinia. (53 species)

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

African Pygmy-Kingfisher

Ispidina Picta

Stan's Garden, February 2014
(Subspp natalensis)
(Photo Stan Culley)

Stan's Garden, December 2013
(Subspp natalensis)
(Photo Stan Culley)

Marlon Caravan Park 22nd Feb 2012
(Subspp natalensis)
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Stan's Garden, March 2013
(Subspp natalensis)
(Photo Stan Culley)

Umzumbe floodplain Dec 2012
(Subspp natalensis)
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Umzumbe floodplain Dec 2012
(Subspp natalensis)
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Stan's Garden, December 2008
(Subspp natalensis)
(Photo Stan Culley)