Saturday, 26 March 2011

Yellowwood Park Conservancy visit Simuma Conservancy

by Andy Ruffle

Representatives from NPC Cimpor Durban,
 Members of the Yellowwood Park Conservancy
 and Birdlife Trogons representatives
 at Mike Neethling's Vulture Restaurant, Oribi.
(Photo Barry Porter)
NPC Cimpor Simuma today hosted a visit by the Yellowwood Park Conservancy, Durban to it's Simuma Conservancy (formerly Oribi Conservancy). At the request of NPC Cimpor Simuma, Birdlife Trogons was represented by Barry Porter, Mike Fagan, John Marchant and Andy Ruffle.

The day started with a visit to Mike Neethlings vulture restaurant, where we were greeted by some 20 vultures busily devouring a carcass. Barry's earlier recky had revealed Jackals attending also, but these had unfortunately departed by the time we arrived.
Keeping our distance, we were able to obtain good views of the birds and the antics going on around the table.

Cape Vultures attending a recently placed carcass at the vulture restaurant
(Photo John Marchant)
It wasn't long before the awkward attempts at launching into the air, signalled the birds awareness of our presence.

Up, up and away. We've been spotted
(Photo John Marchant)

This allowed us to move closer to the cliff edge, where we had stunning views of the vultures perched on the cliffs and soaring in the valley below as they looked for thermals.

Awaiting flight clearance
(Photo John Marchant)

Looking for thermals
(Photos Andy Ruffle)

Another bird of note to make an appearance, was a pair of Cape Rock Thrushes, one of which looked decidedly scraggy.

Cape Rock Thrush near the vulture restaurant
(Photo Andy Ruffle)
The vulture restaurant had kept us occupied for longer than anticipated, so by the time the group moved on to the Simuma Conservancy, the heat of the day had set in, with the resulting lack of bird movement.
Yellow-eyed Canary could be heard singing in the trees and African Firefinch trilled amongst the grass, but both remained elusive to the eye. A short walk to other side of the river, over the newly repaired crossing, confirmed that our chances of seeing much birdlife had all but disappeared with the now searing heat of the sun. There was nothing more for it than to return to the Information Centre and partake in the splendid finger buffet laid on by NPC Cimpor Simuma, after which the visiting party gradually made there way back to Durban.

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