Monday, 5 December 2011

Outing report- 4th December 2011 End of year function Umdoni Park

Enjoying the Impithi Beach Kiosk hospitality
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Attendees: Liz Blomeyer, Doug & Angie Butcher, Lennart Eriksson, Mike Fagan, Ray Furniss, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Evelyn Heunis, John Howe, Margaret Jones, Cathy Lee, Stan & Val Culley, Sandy Olver, Herbie & Jeanette Osborne, Hazel Parry, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Paul & Margaret Rose, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Ron & Elaine Whitham.

(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Birdlife Trogons Bird Club end of year function took place on Sunday 4th December, commencing with a bird walk through the enchanting forests of Umdoni Park in Pennington.
 Always a popular outing with Trogon's members and always offering rewarding 'birdies', one must however be on the look out for the occasional stray missile in the form of a golf ball, hurtling down a fairway. Thankfully, there are no avians named 'Fore'.
 Those who braved the early start, were rewarded with wonderful views of the pair of resident Crowned Eagles from the 'Otter View' site, which appears to be having a viewing deck constructed. Otherwise, it has to be said, the birds were rather scarce. Angie's meticulous scanning of the trees for a Narina Trogon regrettably proved fruitless, as did attempts to locate Green Malkoha's by other members of the group. Maybe next time Angie will be lucky.
However, all was definitely not lost. Lennart's explanation of the differences between a Dark-backed Weaver and Spectacled Weaver nest, resulted in a 100% success rate of the identification of any nests subsequently encountered. Well done all.
Stan Culley had a rather successful morning, despite being confined to the Enviro Camp due to a dodgy insect bite. He was able to capture some nice photos of the birds visiting the water feature, as you can see below.
With the birding complete, all headed off to the Mpithi Kiosk for our festive lunch and to meet up with those members who chose not to do the early walk..
Operated by Pennington Conservancy and manned by volunteers, the kiosk staff (along with Elaine) had laid on little extra touches to the table decorations to make it a truly festive occasion. As usual, the service and food was excellent and it is very satisfying to know that all profits go to conservation.
It was so nice to see our new members enjoying the occasion alongside well established members such as Ray Furniss.
A big thank you goes to the kiosk and it's volunteers and a huge thanks to Elaine whose wonderful organising skills ensured that this day was a very special occasion. 

Today's lesson, Weaver nest identification.
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Terrestrial Brownbul at the Enviro Centre
(Photo Stan Culley)

Brown Scrub-Robin at the Enviro Centre
(Photo Stan Culley)

Birds recorded: Hamerkop, Square-tailed Drongo, Olive Sunbird, Red-capped Robin-chat, Knysna Turaco, Brown Scrub-Robin, Dark-capped Bulbul, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, African Goshawk, Dark-backed Weaver, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Glossy Starling, Tambourine Dove, Hadeda Ibis, Terrestrial Brownbul, Green-backed Camaroptera, Egyptian Goose, African Paradise- Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Black-backed Puffback, Red-eyed Dove, Black-bellied Starling, Spectacled Weaver, Amethyst Sunbird, Lesser Striped-Swallow, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Yellow-fronted Canary, Southern Black Tit, Yellow-billed Kite, Sombre Greenbul, Little Swift, Cape White-eye, Lesser Honeyguide, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Crowned Hornbill, Spurwing Goose, Reed Cormorant, African Crowned Eagle, Olive Thrush, Collared Sunbird, Olive Woodpecker, Cape Batis, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Golden tailed Woodpecker, White-bellied Sunbird, Chinspot Batis. (46 species)

Sunday, 4 December 2011

**UPDATED ** 'Sooty Tern' found in Park Rynie

Text by Andy Ruffle, Photos by Bill Clarke

On 19th November 2011 Sandy Olver found this dead tern whilst walking on Park Rynie beach.
After proper inspection, it was realised that this appears to be a Sooty Tern.
Previously considered an uncommon vagrant, with only a few shore records reported, it is now known that flocks of 1000+ occur within territorial waters off the coast of KZN.

Unfortunately, the bird was not ringed, so we will never know where it originated from.
The specimen is now safely in Sandy's freezer awaiting preservation and confirmation of ID.

At the end of year function on 4th December, Sandy was able to confirm that she had taken the specimen to David Allan, the Curator of birds at the Durban Natural History Museum.
He immediatley identified the bird as a sub-adult Sooty Tern. The bird had not yet started it's moult and had extremely worn primary flight feathers. He believed the bird had been blown in by recent storms and was unable to make it back out to sea due to the poor state of it's wings, resulting in total exhaustion.

References: Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VII

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Outing report- Bushbuck Trail 27th November 2011

Attendees: Doug & Angie Butcher, Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, David Halle, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Ron & Elaine Whitham, Barry Willis and Sue Hansbury. (16 attendees)

Having being deferred from the previous week, due to weather, the conditions seemed slightly better for today's outing.
Arrival at the tennis courts however, didn't bode well for the day when Andy drove his car straight into a bog and needless to say got stuck. Fortunately, David Halle was able to tow the car out with a little help from some extra ballast in the form of willing members perched on the back of his bakkie.
Drama over, we commenced our walk through the Bushbuck Trail. It was then we learnt that the local pair of African Crowned Eagle and Juvenile had inexplicably disappeared. Was this a sign of the horrendous storm which hit the coast a few days later, or just conicidence?
Birding the forest was not particularly productive, but this did give David a chance to educate the members about the locality and the problems caused by alien invasive plants.
After breakfast, David showed us a new trail which has been laid in the Fredrika Reserve, a patch of coastal forest the other side of the golf course. Once again, not very birdy, but a lovely walk, very reminiscent of Mpenjati's coastal forest walks. We were fortunate to see an unusual species of Scadoxus for our area, Scadoxus membranaceus Dwarf Paintbrush, which was discovered during a thorough botanical survey of the reserve.
Unfortunately, the heavens opened as we returned to the tennis courts, putting an abrupt end to the outing.
It was very nice to see Trogons member David Halle on this outing. Hopefully we will see more of him in the future. Thanks David for your fascinating insights and for towing Andy out of the mud.

Birds recorded: Sombre Greenbul, Square-tailed Drongo, Cape White-eye, Olive Sunbird, Black-collared Barbet, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Black-bellied Starling, Southern Boubou, Spectacled Weaver, Green-backed Camaroptera, Black-headed Oriole, Burchell's Coucal, Black-backed Puffback, Knysna Turaco, Olive Thrush, Speckled Mousebird, Trumpeter Hornbill, Tambourine Dove, Fork-tailed Drongo, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Natal Spurfowl, Cape Wagtail, Blacksmith Lapwing, Red-winged Starling, Brown Scrub-Robin, Red-eyed Dove, Hamerkop, White Faced Duck, Egyptian Goose, Common Myna. (33 species)