Monday, 19 March 2012

**Updated**Outing report- 18th March 2012 Lake Eland Game Reserve

Malachite Kingfisher at the large Dam
(Photo John Marchant)

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Margaret Jones, John Marchant, Herbie & Jeanette Osborne, Andy Ruffle,  Irma Smook, Ian Upfold, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Neithard & Kathrin von Durckheim (from Pretoria), Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury. (17 attendees)

Another good days birding was had at Lake Eland, with some nice sightings of a few unusual birds.
Bokmakerie was again heard in the reserve, whilst Red-throated Wryneck and Wahlberg's Eagle made brief appearances.

Red-throated Wryneck
(Photo John Marchant)

Wing-snapping & Croaking Cisticola's showed nicely for a few of us.

Wing-snapping Cisticola
(Photo John Marchant)

Cape Longclaw
(Photo John Marchant)

By far the highlight of the day was a suspected rufous morph European Honey-Buzzard which flew low over the dam giving us excellent views, but fooling some of us into believing it could be a Steppe Buzzard. The ensuing debate, which naturally followed, is now well and truly concluded thanks to John's photo below. However, following a submission to the Rarities Committee is transpires that the identification was flawed. The bird is in fact a juvenile African Harrier-hawk.

Is it a European Honey-Buzzard?
No, it's actually a juvenile African harrier-hawk
(Photo John Marchant)

A different twist to the day was when Chris Laubscher, from Talon Safaris, joined us to demonstrate a selection of Vortex binoculars and spotting scopes. Their website is currently hosting a competition in which you can win a pair of Vortex Diamondback 10x42 binoculars worth R3,390. Visit the website here to enter.

Birds recorded: Cape Wagtail, Egyptian Goose, Spur-winged Goose, Blacksmith Lapwing, Cape Turtle-Dove, Cape White-eye, Olive Sunbird, Common Fiscal, Cape Longclaw, Rufous-naped Lark, Familiar Chat, African Stonechat, Barn Swallow, Bokmakerie, Black-crowned Tchagra, Red-backed Shrike, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Croaking Cisticola, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Starling, Southern Boubou, Thick-billed Weaver, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Yellow-fronted Canary, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Red-throated Wryneck, Wahlberg's Eagle, Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove, Southern Black Flycatcher, Bar-throated Apalis, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Chinspot Batis, Black Saw-wing, Crowned Hornbill, Malachite Kingfisher, Common Waxbill, Natal Spurfowl, Sombre Greenbul, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Dark-backed Weaver, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Green Wood-hoope, African Firefinch, Neddicky, Speckled Mousebird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Cardinal Woodpecker, Red-winged Starling, White-necked Raven, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Red-backed Mannikin, Green-backed Camaroptera, African Black Duck, African Harrier-hawk, White-throated Swallow, Lesser Striped-Swallow. (58 species)

Monday, 12 March 2012

Outing report- 10th March 2012 Gaze Farm, Port Edward

(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Doug & Angie Butcher, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Cathy Lee, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Ron Whitham, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury. (12 attendees)

We finally made it to Gaze Farm, following the cancellation of the outing last week due to the rain. Our walk up to the Dam and back revealed an immature Lanner Falcon which perched long enough for us to determine it's true identity. An immature African Fish-eagle (see Doug's photo below) was also seen souring over the grasslands. Both Croaking and Lazy Cisticola showed themselves nicely. Good views of a Black-crowned Tchagra were had by Stan, Barrie and Andy.

Breakfast at Culley's Curio & Coffee Shop
(Photo Doug Butcher)
immature African Fish-eagle
(Photo Doug Butcher)

After breakfast some of the group headed up to the viewing deck at Clearwater Trails. Little birdlife was seen, but the view is always stunning. Whilst at Clearwater we learnt that Cape Vultures have been seen hanging around the area. Let's hope they start breeding here again.

viewing deck at Clearwater Trails
(Photo Doug Butcher)
Thanks go to Stan & Val for their hospitality and another enjoyable visit to this popular venue.

Birds recorded: Village Weaver, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Black-bellied Starling, Purple-crested Turaco, Hadeda Ibis, Southern Boubou, Cape Glossy Starling, Red-winged Starling, Black-collared Barbet, Knysna Turaco, Black-headed Oriole, Tambourine Dove, Square-tailed Drongo, Sombre Greenbul, Collared Sunbird, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Amethyst Sunbird, Red-throated Wryneck, Lanner Falcon (immature), Black-crowned Tchagra, Yellow-fronted Canary, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Pin-tailed Whydah, Croaking Cisticola, Speckled Mousebird, African Jacana, Blacksmith Lapwing, Three-banded Plover, Cape Longclaw, Olive Thrush, Black Saw-wing, Barn Swallow, Cape Wagtail, Common Moorhen, African Fish-eagle (immature), Natal Spurfowl, White-necked Raven, Lesser-striped Swallow, Lazy Cisticola, Brown Scrub-robin, Olive Sunbird, African Hoopoe, Jackal Buzzard. (45 species)

Outing report- 11th March 2012 Bird ringing at Umzumbe floodplain

Text & photos by Andy Ruffle

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Bob Hobbes, John Marchant, Sandy Olver, Andy Ruffle, Ron Whitham. (8 attendees)

Conditions were favourable for this mornings ringing session with Andrew & Ivan Pickles, with a good turnout of attendees, thank you guys.
It definitley seems as though the long distance migrant warblers are on their way, with only Great Reed-Warblers (an Intra-African migrant) and African Reed-Warblers (resident) being caught today.
However, we did have a nice variety of species being bagged. Their were plenty of juvenile African Firefinches around, with nodules at the base of their bills (see photo below). These nodules are used by the adult to trigger the chick to open it's mouth.

juvenile African Firefinch

juvenile African Firefinch
Note the nodules at the base of the bill

Another nice bird to see up close was a Red-faced Cisticola. These could be heard calling all around the floodplain.

Red-faced Cisticola
Two rather scraggy looking Dark-capped Yellow Warblers also made an appearance.

Dark-capped Yellow Warbler

Both Andrew & Mike Fagan were kept busy all morning with a total of 43 birds being ringed (Andrew 26 birds; Mike 17 birds), not including many weavers which were just released.
There were also four recaptures- three Yellow Weavers and a Great Reed-Warbler.
One of the recaptured Yellow Weavers was ringed as an adult female on 11.10.2003, which beats the previous longevity record (details to follow).

Species ringed: Great Reed-Warbler, African Reed-Warbler, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, African Stonechat, Yellow Weaver, Spectacled Weaver, African Firefinch, Common Waxbill, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Rufous-winged Cisticola, Red-faced Cisticola, Fan-tailed Widow, Yellow-fronted Canary. (13 species)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Trip Away report- 10th-13th February 2012 Golden Gate National Park

Photos & text by Andy Ruffle (unless otherwise credited)

Glen Reenen rest camp nestled amongst the mountains

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Mike Fagan, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Margaret Jones, Cathy Lee, John Marchant, Sandy Olver, Herbie & Jeanette Osborne, Andy Ruffle, Irma Smook, Ron & Elaine Whitham. (15 attendees)

Friday 10th
We arrived at a very wet, windy and rather chilly Glen Reenen rest camp after the long journey from the sweltering coast. Fortunately, the rain soon eased off, allowing Sandy and myself to put up our tents with lots of welcome help from Jeanette, Herbie, Ron & Elaine who had arrived earlier and were already set up. With everyone settled into their cosy nests, plans were made to meet at Stanley & Asothie's chalet for an evening get together.