Sunday, 23 December 2012

Outing report- 23rd December 2012 Uvongo River Conservancy

Uvongo River Conservancy
(Photo Irene & Dudley Reid)

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Cathy Lee, Dudley, Irene, Robyn Reid & Douglas Williams, Andy Ruffle, Ron & Elaine Whitham. (10 attendees).

Our last outing of 2012 saw us returning to our favourite haunt, the Uvongo River Conservancy. It was nice to see the Reid's from Durban again and Cathy Lee who now lives in Vereeniging.
Birding today was surprisingly slow, considering the ideal conditions, but we still achieved a respectable list of 57 species recorded. The 'resident' Lesser Honeyguide was in it's usual locale, calling away. The Reid's were especially lucky by managing to catch glimpses of not one African Finfoot, but three- a female and two juveniles. Many thanks for the photos they submitted.

Female African Finfoot with two juveniles.
A very lucky sighting indeed.
(Photo Robyn Reid)

Birds recorded: Red-eyed Dove, Purple-crested Turaco, Dark-capped Bulbul, Black-backed Puffback, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Black-headed Oriole, Black-collared Barbet, Burchell's Coucal, Pied Kingfisher, Egyptian Goose, Dark-backed Weaver, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Olive Sunbird, Hadeda Ibis, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Spectacled Weaver, Yellow Weaver, Sombre Greenbul, Southern Boubou, Tambourine Dove, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, African Dusky Flycatcher, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Square-tailed Drongo, Spur-winged Goose, Cape White-eye, Speckled Mousebird, White-breasted Cormorant, Diderick Cuckoo, Green-backed Camaroptera, Knysna Turaco, Brown Scrub-Robin, Red-winged Starling, Cardinal Woodpecker, Collared Sunbird, Amethyst Sunbird, Yellow-fronted Canary, Lesser Honeyguide, Fork-tailed Drongo, Thick-billed Weaver, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Violet-backed Starling, Black-bellied Starling, Reed Cormorant, Village Weaver, Southern Black Flycatcher, Red-billed Firefinch, Bronze Mannikin, Laughing Dove, White-throated Swallow, Giant Kingfisher, Cape Batis, Black-crowned Tchagra, Yellow-billed Kite, African Pied Wagtail, African Finfoot. (57 species).

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

White-breasted Cormorants breeding sites

(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

David Allan, Curator of Birds at the Durban Natural Science Museum, has asked if we can help out with the following request:-

Dr Rob Crawford , the seabird ornithologist with the Dept of Environmental Affairs, is working on an update of the numbers of White-breasted Cormorants breeding along the South African coast (i.e. within 10 km of the coastline).

If you, or anyone you know, are aware of any breeding sites in southern KZN (or even further down the coast) in our region, please advise David (contact details below). He’d be keen at this stage to also hear of inland ones (indeed of any large colonial heronries in our area that may or may not harbour this species).

Contact details:

David Allan
Curator of Birds
Durban Natural Science Museum
P.O. Box 4085
Durban 4000
South Africa
tel 031-3224214
cell 082-3610261
fax 031-3112242

Monday, 17 December 2012

Outing report- 17th December 2012 Bird ringing

Photos & text Andy Ruffle

Umzumbe River floodplain December 2012
(Photo Andrew Pickles)

Attendees: Liz Blomeyer, Eric Kok, Herbie & Jeanette Osborne, Andy Ruffle, Stephan Schoeman, Ron Whitham. (7 attendees).

It was originally planned to visit the Umzumbe Floodplain for today's ringing session, but as can be seen from Andrew's photo above, the floodplain is certainly living up to it's name at the moment.
Luckily, Andrew's home patch is always good as a backup, so he opted for there. Deferred from Sunday due to strong winds, Monday morning gave us ideal conditions.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

**UPDATED** Outing report- 9th December 2012 End of Year Lunch

 Text: Andy Ruffle, Photos: Hazel van Rooyen

Attendees:- Liz Blomeyer, Doug & Angie Butcher, Stan & Val Culley, Lennart Eriksson & Evelyn Heunis, Mike Fagan, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Caryl Lowe, Vic & Kay Neilson, Sandy Olver, Herbie & Jeanette Osborne, Hazel Parry, Keith & Maureen Roach, Paul & Margaret Rose, Andy Ruffle, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Ron & Elaine Whitham, Barry Willis & Sue Hansbury. (28 attendees).

View over the Gorge from the Taverna

Sunday, 2 December 2012

**UPDATED** Outing report- 2nd December 2012 Winklespruit Beach

Scanning the mudflats at the Lovu River mouth
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Caryl Lowe, Andy Ruffle, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Ron Whitham, Barry Willis & Sue Hansbury. (9 attendees)

This was the club's first visit to Winklespruit Beach, located at the mouth of the Lovu River. It was chosen, by the committee, as a closer and more accessible possible alternative to Bayhead Nature Reserve.
We began the morning with a walk along the main beach towards the river mouth. White-fronted Plover scurried across the sand; Little Stint, Ruddy Turnstone and Three-banded Plover worked the tidal zone and a flock of Swift Terns were seen roosting at the mouth.
Our next stop was a municipal picnic area, on the banks of the river, with good views of the mouth and mudflats.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Outing report- 11th November 2012 Umbogavango Nature Reserve

Picnic area at Vumbuka Nature Reserve
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Attendees:- Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Stanley Gengan, Eric Kok, John Powell, Andy Ruffle, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Ron Whitham. (10 attendees)

Once again Umbogavango Nature Reserve provided an excellent morning's birding.
Both Orange-breasted Bush-shrike and Red-billed Firefinch were added to our records for the reserve list.
Inside information from local birder Barry Swaddle, enabled us to explore a new area in the complex named the Vumbuka Nature Reserve.

Monday, 5 November 2012

More swarming Yellow-billed Kites

This email was sent in by Sally Smith from Kloof on 5th November 2012.

I live next door to the Kranskloof Nature Reserve in Kloof and on returning home this morning saw 20-30 yellow-billed kites tightly swarming around a copse of trees less than 100m from my house. It was truly amazing to watch as they seemed to narrowly miss each other in flight. They swarmed from ground level to about 40m above ground and made a great deal of noise. I didn’t see any of them land and couldn’t see what the attraction was but assumed there must be something dead that they were waiting to feed on. I came outside with my camera about 20 mins after first seeing them but they’d all disappeared completely.
We get to see a lot of birdlife in the nature reserve but this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this. I hope other folk get the opportunity to see something similar as it was a truly amazing spectacle!
Kind regards,

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Grey Crowned-Crane mating dance

Clive Edmundson sent in this photo of a Grey Crowned-Crane performing it's mating dance. He says:

''I witnessed two Crowned Cranes doing mating ritual recently just on the oribi flats just above the gorge. Watched them for a long time. They were beautiful.''

Grey Crowned Crane doing mating dance,
Oribi Flats 2012
(Photo Clive Edmundson)

Monday, 29 October 2012

Outing report- 28th October 2012 Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve

Attendees:- Doug & Angie Butcher, Irma Smook, Hazel Parry, Margaret Jones, Stan & Val Culley,  Tracy Kelly, Nick & Rina Theron, Caryl Lowe, Eric Kok. (12 attendees)

Birds recorded:- Pin-tailed Whydah ,  Red-collared Widowbird , White-necked Raven , Yellow-billed Kite , Red-chested Cuckoo (H) , Neddicky ,  Violet-backed Starling , Black Cuckoo , Olive Sunbird , Fan-tailed Widowbird , Common Waxbill , Red-winged Starling , Black-bellied Starling , Buff-spotted Flufftail (H) , Hadeda Ibis , Crowned Hornbill , Trumpeter Hornbill , Black-headed Oriole ,  Southern Boubou , Knysna Turaco , Yellow-fronted Canary , Red-eyed Dove , Tambourine Dove , Spur-winged Goose , Grey Crowned Crane , African Palm-Swift , Fork-tailed Drongo , African Dusky Flycatcher , Dark-capped Bulbul , Southern Black Flycatcher , Lesser Honeyguide , Black-backed Puffback , Cape Batis , Southern Grey-headed Sparrow , Yellow-throated Longclaw , African Harrier-Hawk, African Black Swift , Sombre Greenbul , Green-backed Camaroptera , Dark-backed Weaver , Cape White-eye , Greater Double-collared Sunbird , Amethyst Sunbird , Tawny-flanked Prinia , African Emerald Cuckoo (H) , Spectacled Weaver , Red-capped Robin-Chat , Buzzard Sp, Knysna Woodpecker. (50 species)

Monday, 15 October 2012

Outing report- 14th October 2012 Empisini Nature Reserve

Attendees : Eric Kok; Andrew Pickles; Stanley & Asothie Gengan; Irma Smook; Doug & Angie Butcher; Stan & Val Culley; Caryl Lowe. (10 attendees) 
Birds recorded:- Hamerkop,  Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike,  Lesser Striped Swallow,  Burchell’s Coucal, Hadeda Ibis,  African Goshawk,  Village Weaver,  Olive Sunbird,  Cape White-eye, Dark-capped Bulbul,  Black-backed  Puffback,  African  Paradise-Flycatcher,  Common Myna, Square-tailed Drongo,  Fork-tailed Drongo,  Little Rush-Warbler,  Red-eyed Dove, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird,  Purple-crested Turaco,  Sombre Greenbul,  Yellow Weaver, Dark-backed Weaver,  Thick-billed Weaver,  Georgeous Bush-Shrike (H),  Narina Trogon (H), Tambourine Dove,  Scaley-throated Honeyguide (H),  Golden-tailed Woodpecker,  Cattle Egret, Yellow-bellied Greenbul,  Black-headed Oriole,  Olive Thrush,  Blacksmith Lapwing, Red-capped Robin-Chat,  Tawny-flanked Prinia,  Black-collared Barbet,  Green Malkoha (H), Bar-throated Apalis,  Black-bellied Starling,  Yellow-billed Kite,  Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose,  Wood Sandpiper,  Southern Grey-headed Sparrow,  Pied Crow, Mountain Wagtail,  Brown-throated Martin,  Red-fronted Tinkerbird,  Grey Waxbill, Knysna Turaco,  Speckled Mousebird,  Brown Scrub-Robin,  Green Wood-Hoopoe, Grey Sunbird,  White-bellied Sunbird,  Amethyst Sunbird,  Natal Spurfowl,  Brimstone Canary, Yellow-fronted Canary,  Southern Boubou,  Woolly-necked Stork,  Southern Red Bishop, Bronze Mannikin,  Fan-tailed Widowbird,  Long-crested Eagle,  African Crowned Eagle, African Fish-Eagle,  Black-chested Snake-Eagle,  Lesser Honeyguide. (69 species)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

John Marchant (Irish John) 8th January 1942 - 2nd October 2012

Rhodes 2011
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Rhodes 2011
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Rhodes 2011
(Photo Val Culley)

We were sad to hear of the untimely passing of John Marchant (aka Irish John).
John was always a bundle of fun when he came over to visit Mike and join us on our outings.
He will be greatly missed, especially by his life long friend Mike Fagan.
Although not an official member of the club, John became a welcome part of the family.
Mike arranged for a Sunday Mass on 7th October, dedicated to John, at the Sea Park Catholic Church .

Monday, 17 September 2012

Outing report- 16th September 2012 Simuma Conservancy

Birds recorded:- Lesser striped Swallow,  Knysna Turaco,  Black-collared Barbet,  Dark-capped Bulbul, Black-crowned Tchagra,  Yellow Weaver,  Grey Cuckooshrike,  Spectacled Weaver, Village Weaver,  Cape Glossy Starling,  Black-bellied Starling,  Red-winged Starling, Brown-hooded Kingfisher,  Raven,  Pied Crow,  Hadeda Ibis,  Red-eyed Dove, Amethyst Sunbird,  White-bellied Sunbird,  Little Rush-Warbler,  Rock Martin, African Palm- Swift,   Egyptian Goose,  Crowned Hornbill,  Trumpeter Hornbill, Tawny-flanked Prinia,  Neddicky,  Southern Boubou,  Green-backed  Camaroptera, Speckled Mousebird,  African Green-Pigeon,  Fork-tailed Drongo,  Black-headed Oriole, African Dusky Flycatcher,  Dark-backed Weaver,  Thick-billed Weaver,  Square-tailed Drongo,
Sombre Greenbul,  African Paradise-Flycatcher,  African Black Duck, Puffback, Southern Black Tit,  White-throated Swallow,  Lesser Honeyguide,  Klaas’s  Cuckoo, Yellow-fronted Canary,  Olive Sunbird,  Cape White-eye,  Collared Sunbird, African Fish-Eagle,  Red-fronted Tinkerbird,  Cape Robin –Chat,  Yellow-billed Kite, Southern Black Flycatcher,  Martial Eagle,  Grey-headed Bush-Shrike,  Cape Batis, Orange-breasted  Bush-Shrike,  African Firefinch,  African Harrier-Hawk,  Olive Thrush,  Green Wood-Hoopoe,  Bronze Mannikin,  Chinspot Batis, Jackal Buzzard. (65 species)

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Raymond Williamson Furniss 30th May 1920 - 11th September 2012

Ray at the End of Year function
at Umdoni Kiosk in December 2011
(Photo Ron Whitham)

Sadly Ray passed away on 11th September 2012 at the ripe old age of 92.

Ray was a larger than life character who will always be remembered for his many anecdotes and passion for life, right to the end.
He had just finished his memoirs and we hope to be able to make these available in the future.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Help save The Tana River Delta in Kenya

Dear friends at Birdlife, please could you consider signing and promoting a growing global petition regarding the pending /proposed development of the Tana River Delta in Kenya? The Tana River Delta in Kenya has vast importance to birds that migrate from Europe and Asia and I am concerned that the Delta is at threat from foreign companies taking over land for dubious agricultural schemes. In particular, the Canadian company Bedford Biofuels licenced to grow the biofuel crop Jatropha Curcas which in the Nature Kenya & RSPB's view would have a devastating impact on the environment and biodiversity in the area.

If you agree would you please sign and promote the following global community petition and help raise awareness and pressure on the Kenyan government?.......

If you could also pass this link to the petition to as many contacts as possible to help the campaign or add a link to your website that would be much appreciated.

Many Thanks

Dave Scott
RSPB member
Scotland UK

Cape Parrot Big Birding Day 2012 official report

The official report for this year's CPBBD has been published by Prof Colleen Downs.
To download a copy click here.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Trogons at the 2012 Lions' Show

(Photo Andy Ruffle)

A rather quiet show this year for some reason, but still very worthwhile for Trogons to attend.
17 new 'friends' were signed up and a few rand in donations for books etc, taken.

This year the conservation stands were all put together, which worked very well and enabled the various NGO's to interact with each other.

Thanks Liz, Margaret, Doug, Angie, Herbie, Jeanette, Mike, Vic and Andrew for manning the stand.
A very special thanks goes to Herbie Osborne for erecting and dismantling the stand for us again. Herbie you're a star.

Outing report- Amatikulu Trip Away 16th-19th July 2012

by Andy Ruffle

Sunrise at Amatikulu
(Photo Stan Culley)

Attendees: Liz Blomeyer, Doug & Angie Butcher, Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Margaret Jones, Sandy Olver, Herbie Osborne, Hazel Parry, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Ron & Elaine Whitham, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury. (20 attendees)

Trogons at the 2012 Granny Walk

Some of Team Trogons
(Photo Andy Ruffle)
Birdlife Trogons once again proudly flew the flag at this year's Rotary Club Granny Walk on 11th July 2012. Team Trogons 2012 was represented by Angie Butcher, Margaret Jones, Keith Roach, Andy Ruffle, Paul & Margaret Rose, Irma Smook, Hazel van Rooyen, Ron & Elaine Whitham.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Outing report- 8th July 2012 Bird ringing at the Pickles' Home

Attendees: Liz Blomeyer, Stan & Val Culley, Sandy Olver, Andy Ruffle, Ron Whitham.

We didn't net many birds today, which was surprising considering the rain we had during the night. As the morning warmed up though, there were plenty of birds foraging in the surrounding Coral and Fig trees.

Of the 16 birds caught, 4 were re-captures and there were three interesting specimens (see below).

juv Sombre Greenbul no.1
Note the gape and dark eye
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

juv Sombre Greenbul no.2
Note the more advanced development of eye-ring feathers
(Photo Andy Ruffle)


juv Cape Batis
Note the spots on the back
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

The Sombre Greenbuls were new species for these open ringing sessions and now brings the tally to 63 species since we started in October 2011.

Birds ringed: African Firefinch, Cape Batis, Cape Robin-Chat, Dark-capped Bulbul x 3, Grey Sunbird x 2, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Sombre Greenbul x 2, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird (8 species).
Re-captures: African Firefinch, Red-capped Robin-Chat, White-browed Scrub-Robin x 2 (4 birds).
Total tally: 16 birds

Monday, 2 July 2012

Mystery Bird No.6 revealed

To check out the answer to our Mystery Bird Quiz no.6
 and to see the new challenge

More interesting sightings coming in

by Andy Ruffle

Geoff Nichols emailed and Ray Furniss phoned to say there is a Greater Flamingo at the Umzumbe River Mouth.
Eric & Christine Kok saw plenty of Cape Cormorants at the Umtentweni River Mouth.
I headed out today to get some photos. Not the best in the world, but atleast it's a record.

Darter, Reed Cormorant and Greater Flamingo
Umzumbe River Mouth July 2012
(Photo Geoff Nichols)

adult Greater Flamingo
Umzumbe River Mouth 2nd July 2012
(Photo Andy Ruffle)
Cape Cormorant with Swift Terns
Umtentweni River Mouth, 2nd July 2012
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Saturday, 30 June 2012

KZN Rarity spotted on Shelly Beach Boat Trip

Text by Andy Ruffle

22 members and 'Friends' of Birdlife Trogons took advantage of two boat charters, organised by the club and operated by Hot Stuff Pleasure Cruises, from Shelly Beach on 29th & 30th June.
Our skipper on both days was Mike (not Fagan), who performed perfect smooth launches, was highly informative on the trip and brought us back to dry land in an utterly thrilling manner.
If there is enough interest, Andy is considering the possibility of another charter when (and if) the Sardines arrive. However, participants would need to be able to drop everything and get to the launch site at the drop of a hat, as these little fish are very unpredictable. 
Here are the reports for each day's charter, with a very special sighting on the 30th.
Some of the photos maybe of rather suspect quality, but it gives you an idea of what can be expected on one of these trips.

29th June Boat Charter

Passengers on the 29th June charter (see list below)
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Passenger list (left to right): Nick Baglow, Willie van Zyl, Yegas Naidoo, Wilna van Zyl, Penny Taylor, Grace Kendall, Lan Yeadon (and grandson), Ann Maher and Liz. Andy Ruffle behind camera.

Unfortunately, the only birds seen this morning was a Kelp Gull and some Oystercatchers flying along the beach at Orange Rocks. This was more than made up by some absolutely stunning views of lots of Humpback Whales on their way to the breeding grounds. When you can actually see barnacles growing on these magnificent animals, with the naked eye, you know you are experiencing something really special.

Our first sighting of a Humpback Whale
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

and the sightings just kept getting better and better
(Photo Andy Ruffle)
No not a cloud on the water- this is the splash a
breaching whale makes when it hits the water
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Whale ''slapping''.
For more info on surface behaviour of whales see
the link under references at the bottom of the page
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

''A picture is worth a thousand words''
I will say no more
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

30th June Boat Charter

Passengers on the 30th June charter (see list below)
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Passenger list (left to right): Noeleen Phillips, Janet Dalton, Hazel van Rooyen, Lennart Erikkson, Evelyn Heunis, Stacy Jones, Herbie Osborne, Eileen Brannigan, Jeanette Osborne, Steve Peacock. (Andy Ruffle behind the camera)

Having been on the charter on the 29th, I didn't really think it could get any better. Oh how wrong can you be.
There definitely appeared to be more birds present today, albeit Kelp Gulls and a couple of Cape Gannets. When the skipper called a bird on the water, we really did not expect what we were about to see. To our amazement, there, bobbing around on the water, was an African Penguin. This is a truly special sighting for the KZN coast. Steve Davies, the previous chair of the KZN Rarities Committee, doesn't recall an African Penguin being seen in KZN for the past 10 years. I am waiting to find out the actual number of sightings and will then update the post.

African Penguin off Uvongo
(No it's not a rubber duck photoshopped!)
(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

We were all rather concerned that this little critter was not going to make it back to the Cape alive, however, according to Roberts Online, first year birds are known to move into KZN waters during Jun-Oct and are probably following the sardines. This bodes well for our bird, as they presumably do return safely.

Humpback breaching- Amazing!!!!
(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Humpbacks ''Spyhopping''
(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Humpbacks frollicking- well done Hazel nice pic!!
(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Mike explains how the shark nets work
(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Well as you can see, a truly magical experience and worth every cent. If these pics don't wet your appetite, nothing will.
I'm sure the club will be arranging more charters in the future.

Roberts online
Wikipedia- Whale surface behaviour

Sunday, 24 June 2012

**UPDATED** Outing report- 24th June 2012 Uvongo River Conservancy

Text by Andy Ruffle

(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Attendees: Doug & Angie Butcher, Val Culley, Sue Hansbury, Margaret Jones, Hazel Parry, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Barrie Willis. (11 attendees).

The previous night's scattering of rain certainly contributed to today's excellent birding at this local reserve. The walk was alive with bird activity, as attested by the birdlist below.
My early arrival was rewarded with a lovely sighting of a female African Finfoot which flushed from the near bank. Luckily Hazel van Rooyen was just in time to share this also.
Good sightings were had of many species, but in particular an Orange-breasted Bush-shrike and adult African Harrier-hawk. The latter was made more special by the fact that it appears to be an addition to the reserve birdlist.

African Harrier-hawk (Gymnogene)
(Photo Doug Butcher)
Water (Dikkop) Thick-knee
(Photo Doug Butcher)

Once again we thank the Ivungu River Conservancy for the exceptional way this reserve is maintained, making this such a special place on the south coast.

Birds recorded: Egyptian Goose, African Finfoot, African Darter, Reed Cormorant, Water Thick-knee, Natal Spurfowl, Hadeda Ibis, African Harrier-Hawk, Brown Scrub-Robin, Red-capped Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin, Olive Thrush, Dark-capped Bulbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Sombre Greenbul, African Dusky Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Southern Black Flycatcher, Fork-tailed Drongo, Square-tailed Drongo, Black Cuckooshrike, Cape Batis, Southern Black Tit, Black-bellied Starling, Red-winged Starling, Lesser Honeyguide, Black-headed Oriole, African Pied Wagtail, Black-backed Puffback, Southern Boubou, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Black-collared Barbet, Pied Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Olive Sunbird, Grey Sunbird, Collared Sunbird, Amethyst Sunbird, Purple-crested Turaco, Little Rush-Warbler, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Green-backed Camaroptera, Bar-throated Apalis, Black Saw-wing, Speckled Mousebird, Tambourine Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Laughing Dove, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Thick-billed Weaver, Spectacled Weaver, Village Weaver, Yellow Weaver, Dark-backed Weaver, Cape White-eye, Yellow-fronted Canary, African Firefinch, Red-billed Firefinch. (63 species)

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Cape Vulture count at Oribi

Text and photos by Andy Ruffle

Andrew & Mike survey the cliffs,
whilst Roger Uys from KZN Wildlife scribes

On Saturday 23rd June, Andrew Pickles and I joined Mike Neethling for the initial census of this season's nesting activity at the Oribi Cape Vulture breeding colony.
46 nests with adult birds sitting were identified, up from 41 last year. This is a healthy 12% increase, which is a very positive sign considering the general status of this vulture - see the map below. The colony size can now be estimated at around 110 birds, when you take into account that generally 80% of the colony will breed.
Mike reports that during the 12 month period from June 2011 to May 2012, 52 carcasses had been laid at the vulture restaurant, which could well explain the increase in breeding activity.
During the SABAP1, the Cape Vulture population was estimated at 12,000 birds. The latest estimate takes this down to 8,000-10,000 birds.
Mike's colony is therefore very significant and the work he is doing with the restaurant, even more significant. Thanks to people like Mike, we may just be able to save this incredible bird.

Cape Vulture distribution comparison SABAP1 to SABAP2
(Image courtsey of ADU)

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

When the Barn Swallow is away

So we all wondered what the Barn Swallows get up to when they are away for our winter. Well, Gary & Wendy Holburn can now give us a bit of insight. Gary sent this picture and story.

These Barn Swallows have chosen an unusual nesting site
(Photo Gary Holburn)

‘’We were having breakfast at Torview B&B, Lyne Station, just outside of Peebles in the Scottish Borders area and noticed these barn swallows entering in and out of this "hole" edifice in the wall of the B&B we were at, taking in mud and back again.
I fetched the camera and Wendy was chatting to our host with breakfast all laid out for us and our host, Arran Waddell, said  ‘goodness that is her fume extractor from her kitchen’. That is why the birds are hovering, wondering why suddenly the wind is blowing !!!
Could not see any sign of a ring on their legs, but who knows where they will be later in the year ?
Amazing to even think they move so far and wide !!’’

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Outing report- 17th June 2012 Bird ringing Umzumbe Floodplain

Text & photos by Andy Ruffle

(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Attendees: Liz Blomeyer, Mike Fagan, Yegas Naidoo, Andy Ruffle, Ron Whitham, Don Williams (from Nelspruit).

It was an absolutely perfect morning for today's ringing session.Once again we had a thorougly educational day with a few surprises and some new birds for the floodplain (and Umzumbe Conservancy).
No less than 3 Cape Robin-chats totally scuppered my theory that they prefer slight altitude, with the floodplain being at sea level.
Our next surprise was a Brimstone Canary, a new bird for the list. The difference in size between this and the Yellow-fronted Canary is very apparent at close range, as is the very robust beak.

Brimstone Canary

Not totally unexpected, but nice to bag even so, was a male Red-headed Quelea (one of two birds) which was already coming into breeding plumage. Bearing in mind we are only in the middle of June, this is very early for birds to start attaining breeding plumage and noted with many of the Weavers also.

male Red-headed Quelea
starting to attain breeding plumage

The final surpirse of the day was a female Red-billed Firefinch and a juvenile male, again new birds for the list.

juvenile male Red-billed Firefinch

The next ringing session will be on 8th July 2012 and will probably be at the home of Andrew & Ivan.

Birds ringed: Cape Robin-chat x 3, Spectacled Weaver x 2, Yellow Weaver x 11, Village Weaver x 1, Fan-tailed Widowbird x 5, Tambourine Dove x 1, Lesser Swamp-Warbler x 2, Little Rush-Warbler x 3, African Reed-Warbler x 2, Rufous-winged Cisticola x 3, Red-headed Quelea x 2, Yellow-fronted Canary x 1, Brimstone Canary x 1, Bronze Mannikin x 1, Red-backed Mannikin x 2, Red-billed Firefinch x 2, Common Waxbill x 2. (17 species, 44 birds ringed)
Birds re-captured: Yellow Weaver x 3, Red-capped Robin-Chat x 1, Spectacled Weaver x 1, Rufous-winged Cisticola x 3, Cape White-eye x 1, Lesser Swamp-Warbler x 1 (10 recaptures)

Total of 54 birds processed.

**UPDATED** Keep our beaches clean and save a life!

Lennart Eriksson has sent through this very disturbing photo of a Swift Tern which became entangled in fishing line on the beach. This is becoming an all too familiar sight as some irresponsible fishermen leave line laying around. So next time you're having a stroll along the beach, please take a carrier bag with you and let's clean up this mess and potentially save a bird's life.

Another problem arises when birds go for bait when fishermen are casting out. The bird gets hooked through the beak and many fishermen are not familiar with how to de-hook the bird. The following poster shows step-by-step how to safely handle a seabird and remove a hook from the beak.

You can download a poster sized version by clicking here.
Download a copy of an article published in the Fever newspaper by clicking here.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

**UPDATED** Outing report- 13th June 2012 Tala Private Game Reserve

Text and photos Andy Ruffle

Birders guided walk

Attendees: Liz Blomeyer, Eileen Brannigan, Stan & Val Culley, Debra Dougall, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Sue Hansbury, Margaret Jones, Stacy Jones, Sandra Olver, Barry Pullock, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Hazel van Rooyen, Ron & Elaine Whitham, Barrie Willis; (HCCC- Chris & Liz Coetzer, Roger & Rachel Marais, Dave & Joy Mullin, Ian & Debbie Taylor, Sean Warnick) 27 attendees.

An extremely rewarding day was had at this new venue, by members of Birdlife Trogons and the Hibiscus Coast Camera Club, making the early start well worth it.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

**UPDATED** Outing report- 10th June 2012 Umzimkulu Valley

(Photo Doug Butcher)

Attendees: Liz Blomeyer, Doug Butcher, Sue Hansbury, Margaret Jones, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Hazel van Rooyen, Ron Whitham, Barrie Willis. (9 attendees).

(Photo Doug Butcher)

The prospect of a cold and windy day certainly seemed to put some of our members off for this outing. However, once we were tucked down in the valley, the temperature soon rose and we found ourselves removing our excess clothing. Although the birding was not outstanding, we did have good sightings of Southern Tchagra in the usual spot and managed to add three species to the checklist (highlighted in blue below). The flowering aloes were exceptional at this time of year.

Hamerkop heads downstream
(Photo Hazel van Rooyen)

Liz, Hazel, Sue, Barrie, Ron & Andy decided to pop in to Leopard Rock on the way home. Here we had wonderful sightings of Mocking Cliff-chat, Cape Rock-thrush and Striped Pipit, whilst sipping our teas & coffees on the deck.

Birds recorded: Dark-capped Bulbul, Fork-tailed Drongo, Red-eyed Dove, Yellow-fronted Canary, Burchell's Coucal, Neddicky, Southern Boubou, Sombre Greenbul, Hadeda Ibis, Speckled Mousebird, Bar-throated Apalis, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Black-headed Oriole, Tawny-flanked Prinia, African Firefinch, Egyptian Goose, Brown-throated Martin, African Pied Wagtail, African Black Duck, Southern Tchagra, Hamerkop, Spectacled Weaver, White-bellied Sunbird, Common Waxbill, Cape Batis, Green-backed Camaroptera, Golden-breasted Bunting, Giant Kingfisher, Southern Black Tit, Southern Black Flycatcher, Cape Starling, Woolly-necked Stork, African Fish-Eagle, White-necked Raven, Common Fiscal, Amethyst Sunbird, Cape Wagtail, Brown Scrub-Robin, Cape Turtle-Dove, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Knysna Turaco, African Stonechat. (42 species). Leopard Rock- Pin-tailed Whydah, Mocking Cliff-chat, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Rock-thrush, Bronze Mannikin, Cape White-eye, Village Weaver, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Red-winged Starling, Rock Martin, Striped Pipit. (53 for the day)