Saturday, 30 July 2011

Photos from Mountain Sanctuary Park, NWP

Text & photos by Andy Ruffle

On a recent trip to the Northwest Province I found a delightful private reserve called the Mountain Sanctuary Park.
The scenery is stunning and there are some nice walking trails.
Birding looks as though it could be pretty interesting, with many photo opportunities available from the camp area alone- see photos below.
The park offers chalets, log cabins and camping, all located in the same area. The campsite does have electricity. Prices are very comparable to those at Mkhuze.
This has alot of potential for a club 'weekend away', so watch this space.

Fountain pools

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Garden birding with a purpose

Coinciding with Digital Biodiversity Week, a new bird monitoring initiative - MyBirdPatch – is being launched. This project is a derivative of SABAP2, and is an “add on” not a replacement. MyBirdPatch is a project of the ADU, in partnership with SANBI and BirdLife South Africa.
What is MyBirdPatch? It is an initiative to monitor bird species and populations at a fine scale. What is a patch? A patch can include one or more of the following types of area: garden, greenbelt, a park, local nature reserve, school, the grounds of a hospital, golf course, wetland, a section of river, your walking route around your neighbourhood, or even the route you walk every day between getting off public transport and your office. Basically any well-defined space from the size of a garden to a few tens of hectares, but there is no real upper limit. You can decide for yourself how small or large your patch is depending on how much time you have available. You define the boundary of the patch. We are happy if you only ever do a single list for a patch, but we would much prefer you to select a patch that you are able to do regularly.

For more information

Source: ADU

Monday, 25 July 2011

Outing report- Winter CWAC Count 24th July 2011

By Andy Ruffle

Breakfast at Harding Dam
From top left clockwise- Moira & Bob Clark, Willie & Wilna van Zyl,
Mike Fagan, Stan & Val Culley, Cathy Lee, Andy Ruffle,
Sue Hansbury and Barry Willis
(Photo Doug Butcher)

Attendees:- Doug Butcher, Bob & Moira Clark, Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Sue Hansbury, Cathy Lee, Andy Ruffle, Willie, Leon & Wilna van Zyl, Barry Willis. (13 attendees)

CWAC lived up to it's name on Sunday as Certainly Weather Acted Considerately with a mild 6.5 degrees, clear blue skies and calm conditions greeting us at the Umzimkulu turn-off.
After welcoming two new faces, Barry Willis and Sue Hansbury from Uvongo, we proceeded to our usual vantage spot at the quarry to commence the count.
As expected at this time of year, there were good numbers of waterfowl present.
With the scanning of the dam, by Stan and his trusty Swarovski, complete we set off to our picnic spot on the shores of the dam for a breakfast break.
Here we witnessed some intriguing behaviour by the many Brown-throated Martins flitting around. One bird picked up a feather that was floating on the water, carried it aloft and then dropped it. The feather was then retrieved by another bird which again took it, flew for a while and dropped it, only to be caught by yet another bird, and so on and so on it went. Were they just playing or was this perhaps related to a mating display is the question? Although there is no reference to such behaviour in Roberts VII, it does mention feathers being used to line their nests, so mating could possibly be the explanation.
It wasn't just the kleintjies that gave us an interesting spectacle, stunning views of an African Marsh Harrier interacting with a sub-adult Jackal Buzzard high above us were had by all present. They were then joined by an African Harrier-Hawk (Gymnogene) and another African Marsh Harrier, with a Lanner Falcon soaring across the sky at the same time. What a wonderful sight to see all these raptors together and under such perfect light conditions. Long-crested Eagles were also very accomodating.
It didn't stop there, two Cape Vultures swooped in low infront of us as we were leaving to go to Ingeli Forest, these probably being attracted to the carcass of a horse which had tragically come to an untimely end by getting caught in barbed wire fencing.
The honey factory at Ingeli is doing well, but alas no Cape Parrots:)
Ingeli Forest itself again didn't let us down. Although quiet at first, we did manage very nice views of Swee Waxbill, Knysna Turaco, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler and Starred Robin amongst others.
Another pleasant and unexpected surprise were five Southern Ground-Hornbills seen foraging on the burnt verge on the N2 just passed Ingeli Forest Lodge on the way home.
Please remember to report all sightings of these Hornbills, with their location. You can send me an email and I will pass on the information.

One of five Southern Ground Hornbills foraging on the burnt
 verge of the N2 near Ingeli Forest Lodge
(Photo Doug Butcher)

To download the results for this and previous counts click here.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Umzumbe garden visitor

John Howe has just sent in this photo of two male Red-headed Queleas in his garden at Umzumbe.
So they are around folks!
Once again if you do have these birds visiting your garden on a regular basis, please contact our bird-ringing co-ordinator Mike Fagan on 039 681 3560.
To see Stan Culley's excellent series of photos

Red-headed Queleas in John Howe's garden, Umzumbe
Left- male
Right- female non-breeding plumage
(Photo John Howe)

Saturday, 23 July 2011

'The Beach Book' launched 23rd July 2011

Jerry Gosnell & his wife
(Photo Andy Ruffle)
Trogons member Jerry Gosnell's new book 'The Beach Book' was launched at Ramsgate Stationers on 23rd July 2011.

This delightful pocket-size (A6) guide to the common plants on the dunes and the seaweed of rock pools along the east coast of South Africa.
published by the Flora & Fauna Publications Trust.
The Rear and Fore dune plants section will particularly appeal to folk living just behind the dunes and battling with rehabilitation and gardening.
A smorgasbord of flora from beach dune to coastal forest covers dune scrub, grasses, the colourful Marguerite, Vygies, Gazania and many more, to creepers and the magnificent coastal aloes & Kniphofia, shrubs, the renowned Natal Wild Banana and the hardy coastal trees including the beautiful Coastal Redmilkwood, the Natal Guarrie and the Lagoon Hibiscus.
Seaweeds: An exciting range of the Green, Brown and Red seaweeds covering the Sub-Tidal fringe (below Low Water Spring Tide), through Lower, Mid and Upper Inter-tidal zones
to High Water Spring Tide. The role of seaweeds in the marine environment is well covered as is their reproduction and uses.
Great pleasure is to be had identifying seaweeds whilst precariously balancing on the edge of a pool ...!

Size : 152 pages : 148mm x 105mm in portrait : 150grams
ISBN no.978-0-620-50296-2

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Trogons at the Lions' Show 15th-17th July 2011 **UPDATED

Well another successful Lions' Show for Trogons has come and gone.

Despite the late decision to display books etc on the stand, we managed to raise a good sum for club funds, a superb result.

Ofcourse, this would not have been possible without things to display, so once again thanks to those members & 'friends' who donated items.
Special thanks go to (in alphabetical order) Liz Blomeyer, Doug & Angie Butcher, Lennart Erikkson, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Evelyn Heunis, Dave Halle, Margaret Jones, Vic Neilson, Herbie & Jeanette Osborne, Irma Smook, Ron & Elaine Whitham for offering their time to man the stand.

A huge extra thank you to Herbie who again did an excellent job building the stand even though he was battling with a nasty cold.

I'm so pleased with the result, that I think this is definitely something we must consider for the future, so please keep any surplus 'birdy and general wildlife' items, that are no longer wanted, rolling in. We will certainly make use of them.

Andy Ruffle

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Unusual Half-collared Kingfisher behaviour

Jeremy Gosnell has recently captured these photos of Half-collared Kingfishers (Alcedo semitorquata) fishing in marine pools in Ramsgate (but without any luck).
This behaviour is quite unusual, although Roberts VII does report that birds in the Eastern Cape have been observed fishing in salt water.