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)

Migrant arrival records 2011

Well it looks like summer is well on it's way with the first sightings of migrants coming in.
If you have any additional information please email

Barn Swallow
20th October- Good numbers now arriving at Umzumbe roost ( Andrew Pickles)
Black Cuckoo
6th November- Heard calling at Umbambazi NR (club outing)
Common Greenshank
24th September- 1 seen at the Umzumbe River Estuary (Andy Ruffle)
Common Sandpiper
21st August- 1 seen Riverbend Crocodile Farm (Andy Ruffle, Andrew Pickles)
Diederik Cuckoo
2nd October- 1 heard Umzumbe floodplain (Andy Ruffle, Andrew Pickles) 
Lesser Striped-Swallow
12th August- seen at Sea Park (Andy Ruffle) and lots seen at Umzumbe (Andrew Pickles)
Red-chested Cuckoo
9th October- heard at Rodney Miles farm, Harding by attendees
Violet-backed Starling
23rd October- 1 seen at Umbogavango NR (Club outing) 
Wood Sandpiper
2nd October- 1 seen at the Umzumbe River Estuary (Sandy Olver)
Yellow-billed Kite
4th August- Upper Melville (Davina Campbell).
6th August- about 12.30pm soaring over Durban's spaghetti interchange (Peter Vos)
9th August- 1 bird at Umzumbe (Andy Ruffle & company), plus 1 bird at Umtentweni (Trish & Graham McGill).
10th August- 1 bird at Scottburgh (Ronny Seymour).
11th August- seen at Tala Game Reserve (Nigel Anderson)