Sunday, 29 June 2014

Outing report - 29th June 2014 Lake Eland Game Reserve

Attendees: Doug & Angie Butcher; Stan & Val Culley; Stanley & Asothie Gengan; Ina de Koker, Hazel Nevin, Sandy Olver, Andy Ruffle, Willie & Wilna van Zyl. (12 attendees).

Two species were added to the Lake Eland bird list today...Cape Sparrow and Crested Barbet. The latter being heard only.
Ina de Koker was very fortunate to encounter a male Narina Trogon whilst driving back through the Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve.

Birds recorded: Cape Turtle-Dove, Cape Wagtail, Village Weaver, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Weaver, Brown-backed Honeybird, Crested Barbet, Black-collared Barbet, Red-eyed Dove,  Cape Sparrow, Common Fiscal, Dark-capped Bulbul, Fan-tailed Widowbird, White-bellied Sunbird, Cape Longclaw, African Stonechat, Plain-backed Pipit, Zitting Cisticola, Neddicky, Rufous-naped Lark, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Speckled Mousebird, Southern Black Flycatcher, Bar-throated Apalis, Sombre Greenbul, Forest Canary, Southern Boubou, Fork-tailed Drongo, White-necked Raven, Black-headed Oriole, Green-backed Camaroptera, Hadeda Ibis, Spectacled Weaver, Hamerkop, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Knysna Turaco, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Reed Cormorant, Ashy Flycatcher, African Fish-Eagle, Cardinal Woodpecker, Yellow-fronted Canary, Tambourine Dove, African Dusky Flycatcher, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Cape Batis, Little Grebe, Grey Crowned Crane, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Egyptian Goose.  (50 species).

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Barry Porter Memorial Hide damaged by veld fire

Text and photos by Andy Ruffle

damage sustained to front and one side

Unfortunately, a veld fire has raged through the grasslands at the vulture colony causing damage to the hide.

The fire started yesterday afternoon in the Umzimkulu Valley below and jumped up and over the cliffs heading straight for the hide.
Despite the very quick response from Mike's workers, who doused the area around the hide with water, the fire just tore through.
The front and one side has sustained alot of damage and will need the supports and cladding replaced. One roof panel will also need to be replaced.

the interior is relatively unscathed
we came close to totally losing the hide

Incredibly the back, one side and interior are relatively unscathed.
I have contacted the original builder to request a quote for materials and repairs. The outcome of this will determine the way forward.
The hide project does have some funds in the bank, which will hopefully go a long way to covering the repairs.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to find an insurer prepared to insure the structure at an affordable premium, although after this we will have to address the situation.

We will still be able to conduct 2hr vulture viewing visits, which are proving very popular and a good income generator. This will also assist in covering repair costs.

The landowner feels that we have achieved too much thus far, to throw in the towel now and I have to agree with him.

It may take a little time, but we will get the hide fully up and running again.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Black Stork makes a Youth Day appearance

Whilst escorting a group at the Oribi vulture colony on Monday (Youth Day), we noticed a large bird join the thermal being used by some 20 Cape Vultures. It was quickly identified as a Black Stork. This is a nice visitor to see in our neck of the woods.
We will be keeping a close eye out to see whether there are any signs of nesting by the stork.

Black Stork riding the thermal
(Photo Adeline Mccarter)

Spotted Thick-knee were also seen during this visit. Another bird not often seen in our South Coast region.

Some other good news from the vulture colony is that 30 vulture nests have been counted, just on the cliffs that are visible where we normally stand. This is the highest number so far recorded and is just a small part of the cliff face on which they nest.

There will be a full census done this month, hopefully, so it will interesting to see the total tally. We will keep you posted.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Outing report- 15th June 2014 Litchi Syndicate

Text by Andy Ruffle
Photos by Doug Butcher (unless otherwise credited)

Attendees: Doug Butcher, Eric Kok, Graham & Patricia Pirie, Andy Ruffle. (5 attendees).

Sadly, we had a very poor turnout for today's outing. A warm welcome to Graham & Patricia Pirie though, who have just signed up as our latest members.

The morning started off very nicely with an African Goshawk displaying high above us as the sun rose above the distant cane fields.

The early walk took us up to the dam. On the way, a black bird with yellow wing patches flew up from the sprouting cane and landed in a tree. Yellow Bishop was the first bird that sprang to mind, although this would be very unusual for this location and no yellow rump was noticed. Closer inspection revealed that it was a Black Cuckooshrike with the yellow wing patches. Not an uncommon bird by any means, but it is nice to see the morph with yellow on the wings. According to Roberts Online, about 50% of the birds in KZN and 9% in Zimbabwe, have the yellow patch.

male Black Cuckooshrike with yellow carpal patch

At the dam, we noticed what looked liked a small bird swimming across the water. Little Grebe we thought, until our binoculars focussed on the bird. All we could see was a head moving through the water. We soon realised that it was a submerged Spur-winged Goose. Roberts Online makes no reference to this strange behaviour, so any theories would be appreciated.

Patricia, Eric, Graham and Andy at the dam

After breakfast, we investigated a new walking trail that has been cut along the river that flows into the dam.
It passes through virtually pristine indigenous forest and we notched up a fair few birds to add to a final total of a very respectable 63 species for the day.
A big thanks must go to John Porter for adding this trail. It will certainly make our future visits more productive and enjoyable.

Birds recorded: African Goshawk, Fork-tailed Drongo, Trumpeter Hornbill, Dark-capped Bulbul, Yellow-fronted Canary, Red-eyed Dove, African Stonechat, Hadeda Ibis, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Sombre Greenbul, Spectacled Weaver, Black-collared Barbet, Natal Spurfowl, Olive Sunbird, Black Cuckooshrike, African Dusky Flycatcher, Black-bellied Starling, Cape Glossy Starling, Black-headed Oriole, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Knysna Turaco, Yellow Weaver, Little Grebe, Egyptian Goose, Common Moorhen, Spur-winged Goose, African Jacana, Burchell's Coucal, Southern Boubou, Cape White-eye, Amethyst Sunbird, Thick-billed Weaver, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Southern Black Flycatcher, Long-crested Eagle, Neddicky, Common Waxbill, Chinspot Batis, Black-backed Puffback, Pied Crow, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Speckled Mousebird, Collared Sunbird, Ashy Flycatcher, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Bar-throated Apalis, Square-tailed Drongo, Cape Batis, Green-backed Camaroptera, Red-knobbed Coot, Giant Kingfisher, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, African Firefinch, Crowned Hornbill, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Southern Black Tit, Brown-backed Honeybird, African Black Duck, African Pied Wagtail, Scaly-throated Honeyguide. (63 species).

Photos copyright of photographer.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Vulture Hide helps green up local schools

The Oribi Vulture Viewing Hide has recently donated 5 indigenous trees each to Enxolobeni Primary School (Oribi) and Mdlalzi Primary School (Murchison), to assist with their 'Greening Up' Projects.

This worthwhile initiative, co-ordinated by the KZN Wildlife Honorary Officer Corp, will hopefully encourage the learners to take an interest in the environment.
We thank our visitors who have made this possible.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Third Oribi tagged vulture found electrocuted

By Andy Ruffle

The farmer with Sascha's remains
(Photo- name not supplied)

Sadly, we have to report that Sascha (N110) has been found electrocuted in the Eastern Cape.
She is now the third of five juvenile Cape Vultures, which were satellite tagged at the Oribi colony in February 2013, to succumb to electrocution (or collision) by electric pylons.

The fact that 60% of the satellite tagged birds have perished within just 18 months is now very worrying.
These are just the casualties that we are aware of. How many more vultures are being killed and going unreported, is the big question?

Although Eskom have made a commitment to address this tragic situation, it appears that action cannot come soon enough.

This latest incident highlights, once again, the huge importance of the successful breeding colony at Oribi.
Let's hope that the future of the two remaining vultures, Jo (N101) and Heidi (N103), is more promising.

Culley's Dam, Port Edward - May 2014 sightings

Photos by Stan Culley

African Rail
White-backed Duck
Lesser Swamp Warbler

Photos copyright of photographer