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.

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