Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Barry Porter 18th Sept 1946 to 27th Apr 2011

(Photo Crystelle Wilson)

Barry as we'll all remember him,
soaking up the wonders of the big outdoors.
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

A memorial service was held for Barry at 10.00am on Monday 2nd May 2011 at the Port Shepstone Country Club.
Dress attire casual (as Barry would've liked).
A request for no flowers has come from his family.
His son feels it fitting that donations be made to Birdlife Trogons Bird Club in lieu of flowers. Account details are:-

Name: Birdlife Trogons
Branch: 46 Aiken St, Port Shepstone
A/C Number:  90 5599 6671
Account type:  Active Savings

**Please comment deposits 'Barry' with your name and contact number also.


Born 18th Sept 1946. Passed away 27th April 2011

Friend Colleague Confidant Gentleman

Born in Johannesburg into a family steeped in South Coast history.
Educated at St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown and immensely proud of it.
Reserved, scientific and tempered with technical ability.
Environmentally possessed.
Concluded his education at Natal University with a BSc Agri Degree and commenced a farming career.
His knowledge of environmental issues was unsurpassed and covered everything from birds to frogs - from trees to grasses to game – from common names to scientific names to even Zulu names in which language he was fluent.

The use of this language in regard to Zulu tree names often led to very interesting and vigorous debates between ourselves and our Zulu speaking compatriots. To disagree with him was a complete waste of time, he would just quietly walk away, leaving one to wonder why did we even try and realising that we had not obtained an ‘A’ in that subject.

His knowledge of birds was unsurpassed and he studied avian issues with an undisclosed passion. He was a dedicated member of the Bird Rarity Committee and was always ready to give a fair judgement on all requests. As Chairman of Trogons Bird Club for a numbers of years (under duress) he never appreciated his ability being noticed and he led the club to be one of the most active and productive in Natal (if not the country) and he had the ability to motivate his committee to perform above expectations to the benefit of its members. He served on many Avian orientated committees where his knowledge was highly regarded.

Apart from his scientific knowledge, his technical ability was quite fascinating and he was adept at repairing and studying all aspects of modern engineering.
He was very computer literate and enjoyed all the advantages of its intricacies to the extreme .

The loss of his wife, Lyn, some six months ago left him tragically scarred – a scar that he bore bravely and undisclosed and no doubt had a bearing on his tragic demise.
His passing will leave a void that will be difficult to fill as there are very few people with his reserved manner and willingness to impart their knowledge to others available in this world today.

May he rest in peace.

Your civility and reservedness which endeared you to so many will not be forgotten.


I have sad news to report. One of the stalwarts of SABAP2, Barry Porter, passed away on Wednesday after a short spell in hospital. Barry's contribution to the BirdLife Trogons Bird Club was also legendary. A memorial service will be held at 10h00 on Monday 2 May 2011 at the Port Shepstone Country Club.
An email sent to me by one of his friends, Carol Bosman, includes this paragraph which helps to sum up all our feelings: "Barry lived for birds and whenever I stayed with him he would take me out to record the various pentads for the Bird Atlas Project. His wife Lyn passed away only five months ago. What saddens me the most, I guess, is the loss of a 'fountain' of information as Barry was so well read in so many subjects. Your project has lost an incredibly knowledgeable observer and participant."
Barry submitted a total of 261 checklists for 77 pentads, mostly in southern KwaZulu-Natal, but extending further afield as well. His first checklist was made on 19 August 2007, right at the outset of SABAP2, and the most recent was on 27 March this year, a month ago. Over this whole period there were very few months in which Barry did not submit a checklist.
He was a regular contributor of interesting comments on fora such as SABirdnet. On 14 June last year during the World Cup he wrote this email, with the subject line "Soccer Birds": "I went birding yesterday in the normally tranquil rural tribal lands inland from Hibberdene. I struggled to fill my atlas card, very difficult to hear birds voices – 'the hills are alive with the sound of vuvuzelas!'"
The birding community and SABAP2 are poorer with the passing away of this passionate citizen scientist.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Outing Report- 17th April 2011 Hulley's Farm

The early bird catches the sausage

Text and photos by Andy Ruffle

Attendees:- Doug & Angie Butcher, Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Ray Furniss, Margaret Jones, Cathy Lee, John Marchant, Vic & Kay Neilson, Sandra Olver, Hazel Parry, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Ron & Elaine Whitham, Margie & Pete Williamson.

Birdlife Trogons members stepped up to the plate and came out in force for this weekend's birding and breakfast at Folly Fields Nursery. The excursion to Hulley's Farm, however, was unfortunately rained off.

Early arrivals persevered with a short, but rather damp, walk around the nursery grounds to build up an appetite. Black-bellied Starlings were out in force, a sure sign of winter coming as they begin to assemble into flocks. Forest musicians (Dark-backed Weaver) could be heard cheerily playing their violins, whilst the treeeee-trooooing of a Red-capped Robin-chat provided a nice accompaniment. Fork-tailed Drongo, Southern Black Flycatcher, African Dusky Flycatcher and Chinspot Batis were all seen taking advantage of the insects lured out by the rain. Wild Banana (Strelitzia nicolai) flowers attracted Amethyst and Olive Sunbirds.

With the birding becoming more challenging, the smell of frying bacon and the prospect of a hot beverage proved just too much. Hastily we made our way through to the coffee shop where we joined up with those members who had chosen to arrive later.

The Folly Fields' staff did a sterling job of feeding the ravenous crowd and a huge thanks go to them for opening up especially for us. A big thank you also to those members who, despite the appalling weather, still travelled long distances to attend the gathering.

With the rain persisting, it was decided to abandon plans to move on to Hulley's Farm.

Birds recorded:- Red-capped Robin-chat, African Paradise-flycatcher, Egyptian Goose, Black-bellied Starling, Fork-tailed Drongo, Dark-backed Weaver, Red-eyed Dove, Black-collared Barbet, Spectacled Weaver, Southern Black Flycatcher, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Thick-billed Weaver, Cape Wagtail, Yellow-fronted canary, Hadeda Ibis, Amethyst Sunbird, Olive Sunbird, Purple-crested Turaco, Chinspot Batis, Tambourine Dove, African Dusky Flycatcher, Laughing Dove, Collared Sunbird, Black-headed Oriole, White-bellied Sunbird, Bronze Mannikin, Red-backed Mannikin, Cape White-eye. (28 species)

From left to right-
Elaine Whitham, Ray Furniss, Mike Fagan & Ron Whitham

From left to right-
Hazel Parry, Margaret Jones, Doug and Angie Butcher

From left to right-
Cathy Lee, Val Culley, Stan Culley and John Marchant

From left to right-
Vic and Kay Neilson, Irma Smook and Sandra Olver

Margie and Pete Williamson

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Red-winged Starling

Onychognathus morio

male, Stan's garden October 2011
(Photo Stan Culley)
female, Stan's garden October 2011
(Photo Stan Culley)

female top center, male top right
Doug and Angie's Garden
(Photo Doug Butcher)

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Southport Swallow roost update

Barn Swallows gathering above the
Southport Swallow roost 09/04/2010
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

The streaks on this photo are Barn Swallows diving
into the reedbeds 09/04/2010
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

There are still good numbers of Barnies coming into the roost at Southport, although there don't seem to be quite as many now. Let's hope we see them back later in the year.

Click on the photos to see full size images and really appreciate the spectacle.

BirdLife Partnership in Africa launches Local Conservation Groups report

'The BirdLife Partners in Africa have published a report on their experience of working with Local Conservation Groups (called Site Support Groups – SSGs in Africa).  Launched at a colourful ceremony in Kinangop, Kenya, the report underlines the principle that biodiversity conservation must coincide with sustainable natural resource management for the benefit of the local people. Members of the local community and other Kenyan SSGs, plus other NGOs and Government and donor representatives, were among those who attended the ceremony.'

Read more and download

Source: Birdlife International

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

First Tristan penguins released from ‘rehab’

(Photo Trevor Glass)
'The first 24 penguins of more than 3,600 admitted to the “rehab centre” on Tristan da Cunha after the oil spill around Nightingale Island have been released back to sea.

“The penguins were selected from the strongest ones, with no visible oil on their outer plumage,” reports Trevor Glass Tristan da Cunha Conservation Officer. “Of the many tested to see if they were ready for release, only 24 had perfectly waterproof plumage.” '


Source: Birdlife International

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Outing Report- Umzimkulu Valley 3rd April 2011

by Andy Ruffle

Attendees- Mike Fagan, Stan & Val Culley, Eric Kok, Cathy Lee, John Marchant, Andy Ruffle, Ian Upfold, Ron Whitham.

Nine members of Birdlife Trogons braved the elements for today's outing to the stunning Umzimkulu Valley, located behind Lake Eland, Oribi.
The low cloud and mist that greeted our arrival, at the Lake Eland gates, did not bode well for our journey into the Valley. Southern Crowned Crane could be heard calling, but remained out of sight. The group, having made it this far, was determined to continue with the excursion as planned and set off in a small convoy.

The slow meander downwards revealed much bird movement and calls rang from the bush and valleys below.
An unfamiliar francolin call was confirmed as Red-necked, by Sipho the resident bird guide at the hunting lodge, who Ian had conveniently picked up on the way.

With our descent complete, we put on our walking boots and commenced some serious birding.
Yellow-fronted Canary was everywhere, with each little movement seeming to be yet another. Other species soon started to make an appearance though, with the likes of Golden-breasted Bunting, Red-fronted Tinkerbird and Bar-throated Apalis showing well.
A flash of russet, in a nearby bush, soon had the hearts racing. 'Southern Tchagra' Andy called, much to Stan's delight. With a good view of this skulker, Stan had finally put his 'bogey bird' to bed.
A scan of the distant cliff faces confirmed previous speculation that Cape Vulture may be present, with about seven birds seen perched on a dropping stained ledge. Further scanning, however, proved difficult due to low cloud and rapidly deteriorating visibility. Unfortunately, a photograph was out of the question this time. Breakfast was not though, with this being the ideal moment to head for our picnic site and put the kettle on.

Suitably refreshed and with the cloudbase rising a metre or two, we ventured off on our second walk.
The weather being cool meant the birds were still active, offering us opportunities for more interesting revelations. We weren't disappointed, with a Red-backed Shrike making an unexpected appearance. This sighting was probably the last we'll see for this season as they usually start their migration during the first ten days of April.
White-browed Scrub-robin, African Firefinch, African Hoopoe, Purple-crested Turaco and Black Saw-wing were all seen on this walk, but sadly no Blue Waxbill.

With our braai consumed and precarious ascent out of the valley overcome, our pleasant and rewarding day was complete.

Birds recorded (60 species):- Grey Crowned Crane, Dark-capped Bulbul, Natal Spurfowl, Olive Thrush, Hadeda Ibis, Common Fiscal, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Black-headed Oriole, Southern Boubou, Brown Scrub-robin, Fork-tailed Drongo, Southern Black Flycatcher, Cape Batis, Bar-throated Apalis, Yellow-fronted Canary, Grey-headed Bush-shrike, Red-eyed Dove, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Red-necked Spurfowl, White-browed Scrub-robin, Neddicky, Black-bellied Starling, Southern Black Tit, African Hoopoe, Tambourine Dove, Cardinal Woodpecker, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Black Cuckooshrike, Spectacled Weaver, Speckled Mousebird, Brown-throated Martin, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, African Firefinch, Southern Tchagra, Purple-crested Turaco, Golden-breasted Bunting, Black Saw-wing, African Olive Pigeon, Cape Vulture, Cape Turtle-dove, Red-capped Robin-chat, African Fish Eagle, Yellow Weaver, Sombre Greenbul, Olive Sunbird, Terrestrial Brownbul, African Pied Wagtail, Cape Glossy Starling, Green-backed Camaroptera, Chinspot Batis, Red-backed Shrike, Tawny-Flanked Prinia, Burchell's Coucal, Hamerkop, White-bellied Sunbird, Green Wood-hoopoe, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Red-winged Starling, African Stonechat, Lesser-striped Swallow.

Friday, 1 April 2011


Lazy Cisticola (Subspp minor)
Habitat- Rocky outcrops in woodland; open rocky slopes with
grass patches and scattered bushes and trees; rank grass
and herbs on forest edges and along streams;
occasionally in gardens
(Photo Stan Culley)

Levaillant's Cisticola (Subspp shiuae)
Habitat- Marshy areas along rivers & streams; edges of
reedbeds; moist grassland and seasonally flooded ponds
(Photo Stan Culley)

Pale-crowned Cisticola (subspp egregius)
Habitat- Fairly short, moist grassland, edges of grassy drainage

lines, and poorly drained patches in grassland and on airfields
(Photo-modified Stan Culley)

Tawny-flanked Prinia

Prinia subflava

Stan's Garden, August 2012
(Subspp pondoensis)
(Photo Stan Culley)

Andy's Garden 09/06/2011
(Subspp pondoensis)
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Andy's Garden 6th April 2011
(Subspp pondoensis)
(Photo Andy Ruffle)
Stan's Garden, January 2010
(Subspp pondoensis)
(Photo Stan Culley)