Monday, 30 March 2015

Strange Helmeted Guineafowl at Oribi

by Andy Ruffle

This photo of a group of apparently leucistic Helmeted Guineafowl on the Oribi Flats, was sent in by Luke Williamson.

(Photo Luke Williamson)

It's rather strange to see several birds together like this, so I'll be keeping an eye out for them.
Has anyone else seen these pale versions around anywhere? 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Barry Pullock passes away

It is with great sadness that we hear that Barry Pullock, from Scottburgh, passed away this morning after a short illness in hospital.

Although not a member of Trogons, we would often see Barry at the odd outing, especially when we visited Ellingham Estates.

Barry was always an enthusiastic birder and a perfect gentleman.
He will be sorely missed.

Our condolences go to his family and friends.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Outing report - 22nd March 2015 Skyline NR & Uvongo River Conservancy

Report and photos by Hazel van Rooyen

Attendees: Gordon & Lorraine Duncan; Stanley & Asothie Gengan; Irma Smook,  Sandy Olver, Doug Butcher, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury;  Bobby & Hazel van Rooyen; Stan & Val Culley;  Margaret Jones, Ian Upfold, Graham Watts, Ina de Koker, Eric Kok, Hazel Parry, Piet & Marietje  Beukes. (21 attendees)

7am on 22 March saw our group gathering at Skyline Nature Reserve in Uvongo.  It was a pleasure to see some new and some not often-seen faces in the line-up!  Barrie got everyone under way and Stan led the pack through some lovely indigenous and exotic forest and grassland.  Originally a farm, the reserve is undergoing a slow rehabilitation to native flora.  The trails are in a good condition, even paved in places.  Whilst pre-occupied identifying some Fork-tailed Drongos in a tree canopy, we had a lovely surprise when a Crowned Eagle suddenly took flight from resting on a branch right above our heads – wow!  Some of the birds seen were: Olive and Amethyst Sunbirds, Spurwing Goose, Chin-spot Batis, Black-headed Oriole, Bronze Mannikin, Dark-backed Weaver, Tambourine Dove, Brown Scrub-Robin.

Dark-backed Weaver
Bronze Mannikin

It was a very hot and humid morning and we were happy to have an early breakfast.  Barrie called everyone’s attention and announced that Herbie Osborne agreed to continue as Chairman of the Trogons Bird Club with Andy Ruffle accepting the Vice-Chair role.
After this we made our way to Uvongo River Conservancy.  A scanning of the river yielded Water Thick-knee, Egyptian Goose, and a Pied Kingfisher checking out the river from its perch on a big rock.  Proceeding along the walking trail through the forest-edge close to the very shallow river the following were spotted:, Common Sandpiper, Giant Kingfisher, Red-wing Starling, Spectacled Weaver, Half-collared Kingfisher, Goliath Heron, Scaly-throated Honey-guide.

Goliath Heron

Stanley led the team making the braai and enjoyed wearing the Braai-master’s apron.  Thanks Stanley!

Stanley the Braai-master

Birds recorded Skyline NR: Olive Sunbird, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Black-headed Oriole, Dark-capped Bulbul, Fork-tailed Drongo, Amethyst Sunbird, Hadeda Ibis, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Cape White-eye, Red-eyed Dove, Tambourine Dove, Brown Scrub-Robin, Southern Boubou, Red-winged Starling, African Crowned Eagle, Dark-backed Weaver, Spectacled Weaver, Collared Sunbird, Spur-winged Goose, Bronze Mannikin, Lesser Honeyguide, Chinspot Batis, Green-backed Camaroptera, Natal Spurfowl, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Sombre Greenbul. (26 species).

Birds recorded Uvongo RC: Egyptian Goose, Purple-crested Turaco, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Pied Kingfisher, African Pied Wagtail, Sombre Greenbul, Goliath Heron, Half-collared Kingfisher, Grey Heron, Common Sandpiper, Yellow-fronted Canary, Thick-billed Weaver, Natal Spurfowl, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Southern Boubou, Tambourine Dove, Dark-capped Bulbul, Speckled Mousebird, Black-backed Puffback, Purple Heron, Giant Kingfisher, Water Thick-knee, Hadeda Ibis. (23 species).

Outing total species: 42

Photos copyright Hazel van Rooyen

Monday, 16 March 2015

Trip Away report - Sand Forest Lodge 2-6 March 2015

Report and photos by Hazel van Rooyen

Participants: Stan & Val Culley, Barry Willis, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Sandy Olver, Margaret Jones, Irma Smook, Doug and Angie Butcher, Bobby & Hazel van Rooyen.

On arrival the whole group  took a walk through the forest, in search of the African Broadbill and Narina Trogon  but it was very, very dry and barely a bird was spotted.  A lone Mocker Swallowtail butterfly danced through the undergrowth and a red duiker scampered off.

Mocker Swallowtail in Sand Forest Lodge forest

Guide Themba Mthembu met us at Hadeda-call on Tuesday morning and took us to several viewsites on the Nibela Peninsular, one where the Senegal Lapwings and Yellow Wagtails were  much in evidence.  Collared Pratincoles also strutted about and a flock of several hundred gave us a wonderful fly-over.  A long traipse over dried-out wetland did not produce any Rosy-throated Longclaws or pipits but other sightings included Kittlitz’s Plover, Curlew and Common Sandpipers and a Lemon-breasted Canary.  A lonely Blue-cheeked Bee-eater soared about.  On returning to our lodgings a pair of Scarlet-chested Sunbirds bounced in the wonderful tree canopy beside our chalets.

Yellow Wagtail - Nibela peninsular

Flock Collared Pratincoles fly-over - Nibela peninsular

After lunch and a break, some people sat by the pool where a honeysuckle attracted butterflies, including Green-banded, Citrus, Constantines and Forest Swallowtails which kept Sandy on the hop trying to get photos.  A Brimstone Canary came to see what all the fuss was about.  Walking back to our chalet White-eared Barbets flitted high in the trees.

Citrus Swallowtail - pool

In the afternoon, we embarked on another forest walk which produced similar results to the previous day, although a Black-chested Snake Eagle executed  a few circles in front of a lowering sun.  

At  sun-set, the local bush babies started up their eerie calling.  As with every evening, we all gathered on Stan, Val and Barry’s patio (Sue being overseas) for a lovely braai and drinks.  Barry and Stanley did us proud with the braai as usual.

Wednesday saw us heading off at dawn to Mkhuze – the road had not improved!  We spent quite some time at Muzi Pan just outside the reserve, looking at herons, pelicans, and various hirundines, (thankyou Val) mostly at a distance away.  A Malachite Kingfisher flitted in the reeds by the road.  A leisurely drive to the picnic site at Nsumo Pan produced a Brown Snake Eagle and a Wahlberg’s Eagle, but not much else.

Brown Snake Eagle - Mkhuze

It was also quiet at the picnic site, but a bird was singing so prettily which we eventually identified as a Pied Wagtail!  Breakfast over (we nearly left without Stanley and Barry who had gone walk-about much to Asothie’s chagrin and she sternly lectured them the notice-board sign saying “Do not venture out of the designated area!”).

Nsumo Pan picnic site Mkhuze

We climbed back into our vehicles, only to get out 2 minutes later at the next hide.  Pelicans congregated on the far bank but of more interest to the photographers was a Willow Warbler and Tawny-flanked Prinia in the brush behind the hide and Doug found an excellent spot where some Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters enjoyed perching between foraging flights.

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - Picnic site Nsumo pan

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater - Picnic site Nsumo pan

Willow Warbler- Picnic site Nsumo pan

The road to kuMasinga hide gave new meaning to Shake, Rattle & Roll and once there, out came the coffee and snacks again which calmed our nerves and was a relief as this hide was also now quiet, presumably the numerous game sighted on previous visits were now reluctant to hang around due to the introduction of lions (we didn’t see any, however).  Emerald-spotted Wood Doves, Blue Waxbills, Yellow-fronted Canaries came down to drink as did Common Waxbills.  A family of warthogs took some refreshment, while some terrapins performed a balancing act on a log and a few monkeys did a stress-test on a small branch.

Terrapins - kuMasinga Hide

Monkeys - kuMasinga Hide

Starlings and Dark-capped Bulbuls fed on an orange fruit in an unidentified tree.  Citrus Swallowtail butterflies were very interested in a sandy place at the water’s edge.  Suddenly the air became alive with European Bee-eaters dive-bombing insects flying over the water, some of them even splashing into the water and for the few minutes it lasted we watched enthralled.

European Bee-eater at kuMasinga Hide

European Bee-eater at kuMasinga Hide

Citrus Swallowtails at kuMasinga Hide

A family of Nyala came down to drink, then – all was once again quiet.
On the return, our exit via a better road, was blocked by a fallen tree so we ventured back on the stony road for a short distance before making our way home, some of us via the airfield where European Rollers took advantage of the flat terrain.  The Brown Snake Eagle also put in another appearance.

European Roller - flying at airfield Mkhuze

At our usual excellent evening braai, we discussed our action plan for the following day, being our last.  The options were, we could either stay around the lodge, visit False Bay or go to Hluhluwe Game Reserve and everyone was game for Hluhluwe.

First, however, Thursday morning found a few brave souls led by Stan, gathering at 05:30 for a final try at the Narina Trogon and African Broadbill in the forest.  It was still too dark for the forest so we strolled around the grassland while a herd of Nyala looked on curiously.  The birds had the good sense to stay asleep but the atmosphere and light from the rising sun coming up behind the grassland were wonderful.   We still didn’t find our birds but felt better for trying.

Sand Forest Lodge - 5.30am walk

Sand Forest Lodge - 5.30am walk - Nyala

At 8-ish we set off and entered at the top of Hluhluwe Game reserve – Memorial Gate.  Not far inside we encountered a massive herd of a few hundred elephant progressing determinedly along the valley.  This was more elephant than any of us had ever seen at one time and they had lots of babies too.  A huge herd of buffalo were also seen but we didn’t hang around them long!  Breakfast was at the picnic site on the Hluhluwe River.  Emerald Cuckoo and Scimitarbill were spotted.  From there we drove to Siwasamikhoskazi view point where a Rudd’s Apalis was seen.  Birds seen in Hluhluwe were, amongst others, European Roller and Croaking Cisticola.

European Roller - Hluhluwe Game Reserve

The return trip was quickly made via the main road and just before we got back Bobby, Barry and I decided to try our luck at False Bay and also check out the accommodation there for future outings.  At the lake a few flocks of water birds were gathered on the sand banks – Grey-headed Gulls, Pink-backed and Great White Pelicans, White-breasted Cormorants and Caspian Terns.  Further along, a Common Greenshank  investigated the rocky shoreline.

Grey-headed Gull at False Bay

Waterbirds at False Bay

Accommodation at False Bay proved unsuitable.  Although the campsites were OK – almost on the beach, the rustic huts were apparently situated back at the entrance, miles away from the tents and had no electricity and you had to take your own linen.  Entrance to the Bay, without Rhino card was R37.50.

On Friday, we were all keen to be on our way home.

Birds recorded:  Crested Barbet, Black-collared Barbet, Dark-capped Bulbul, White-eared Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Glossy Starling, Black-bellied Starling, Violet-backed Starling, White-rumped Swift, Palm Swift, Barn Swallow, Lesser Striped Swallow, White-throated Swallow, Yellow-fronted Canary, Southern Black Tit, Sombre Greenbul, Fork-tailed Drongo, Tambourine Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Square-tailed Drongo, Terrestrial Brownbul, Steppe Buzzard, Purple-crested Turaco, Crowned Hornbill, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Rudd’s Apalis, Green-backed Camaroptera, Yellow-billed Kite, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Cape White-eye, Red-backed Mannikin, Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Willow Warbler, Puffback, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Bronze Mannikin, Blue Waxbill, Long-crested Eagle, Brimstone Canary, Black Cuckooshrike, Chinspot Batis, Collared Sunbird, Grey Sunbird, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Dusky Flycatcher, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Paradise Flycatcher, Trumpeter Hornbill, Helmeted Guineafowl, Kittlitz’s Plover, Senegal Lapwing, Collared Pratincole, Hadeda Ibis, Black-winged Lapwing, Ruff, Pintailed Whydah, Yellow Wagtail, African Pipit, Crowned Plover, Cattle Egret, Sacred Ibis, Black Sparrowhawk, Red-billed Teal, Spur-winged Goose, Reed Cormorant, African Darter, Wood Sandpiper, Blue-cheeked Bee-Eater, White-faced Whistling Duck, Yellow-billed Egret, Malachite Kingfisher, African Spoonbill, Blacksmith’s Lapwing, African Jacana, Burchell’s Coucal, Yellow-billed Duck, Hottentot Teal, Arrow-marked Babbler, Goliath Heron, Little Egret, Three-banded Plover, Pied Kingfisher, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Common Fiscal, Southern Black Flycatcher, Purple-banded Sunbird, Rattling Cisticola, Indian Mynah, House Sparrow, Speckled Mousebird, Long-billed Crombec, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Wattled Lapwing, Sand Martin, Grey-rumped Swallow, Lemon-breasted Canary, Thick-billed Weaver, Hamerkop, Common Sandpiper, Red-breasted Swallow, Southern Red Bishop, Diderick Cuckoo, Purple Heron, Whiskered Tern, Grey Heron, Glossy Ibis, Tawny-flanked Prinia, White-winged Tern, Pied Wagtail, White-backed Vulture, Crested Francolin, Bataleur, Brown Snake Eagle, European Bee-Eater, Broad-billed Roller, Green-winged Pytilia, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Fish Eagle, Pink-backed Pelican, Black-winged Stilt, Open-billed Stork, Osprey, Great Egret, White-throated Robin-Chat, Cape Turtle Dove, European Roller, Common Waxbill, Red-billed Oxpecker, Dusky Indigobird, Red-faced Mousebird, Spotted Flycatcher, Red-billed Quelea, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Village Weaver, Rufous-naped Lark, Black-crowned Tchagra, Red-backed Shrike, Red-collared Widowbird, Little Bee-Eater, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Lappet-faced Vulture, Black-headed Oriole, Brubru, Croaking Cisticola, Common Scimitarbill, Emerald Cuckoo, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Golden-breasted Bunting, White-breasted Cormorant, Pied Crow, Tawny Eagle, Egyptian Goose, Common Greenshank, Grey-headed Bull, Black-headed Heron, Green-backed Heron, Great White Pelican, Black Sawwing, Little Stint, Caspian Tern, Spotted Thick-knee, Cape Wagtail, Fantailed Widowbird, Green Wood-Hoopoe (168 species)

Photos Copyright Hazel van Rooyen

Sunday, 15 March 2015

'Booby' the Red-footed Booby not ready to go

On Saturday 7th March, Michelle Pearson, from Second Chance Avian Rescue, attempted to release the Red-footed Booby which had arrived with them at the end of December 2014.

Michelle with 'Booby'

S.C.A.R received a call from concerned Uvongo residents when they spotted this Red-footed Booby high up in a tree in their garden and seemed to have an injured wing. They finally managed to get him down and took him to the Vet for x-rays. Fortunately the wing was not broken but had an infection in the joint, which was expected to heal on it's own.
After some long-term antibiotic treatment, the infection in the soft tissue surrounding the bones of her wing joint is healing nicely according to another x-ray done. Treatment is continuing with antibiotics until the infection has cleared up completely. She is maintaining good health and a normal weight of just over 1kg.

'Booby', as she is affectionately known, was taken to the local beach on Saturday.
She attempted a few wing flaps and take-off runs, but just wasn't ready to venture out into the big wide world yet.

Michelle Pearson is doing an amazing job with the birds she receives, so if you would like to help out with the costs of food etc, please do contact her on:

Cell: 083 246 6765

Article drawn from  the S.C.A.R facebook group
Photos copyright Hazel van Rooyen

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Mangrove Kingfisher in Hibberdene

Yesterday, Michelle from Second Chance Avian Rescue in Shelly Beach, received this immature Mangrove Kingfisher which had hit a window of a house in Hibberdene.

(Photo Andy Ruffle)

Another very unusual sighting for our area.

Keep up the excellent work Michelle!!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Friend from the past visits vulture hide

Attendees of our 2011 away trip to Rhodes, will fondly remember Mary Mynors from the UK.
Lennart & Evelyn brought Mary down to see the vulture hide on Thursday 12th March.
We had a thoroughly enjoyable morning watching the vultures doing their stuff from the cliff vantage points, followed by lunch at Leopard Rock Coffee Shop.

From left to right:
Steve Peacock, Mary Mynors, Lennart Eriksson, Andy Ruffle
(Photo Evelyn Heunis)

Photos copyright Lennart Eriksson & Evelyn Heunis.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Attend the BirdLife South Africa AGM (Flock) Virtually

Dear colleagues

We are very pleased to announce that you can now attend our next AGM virtually, This important meeting will be livestreamed (at to our members across the country (and even internationally). 

The AGM will start sharply at 16h00 on Saturday 21 March and be concluded by 18h00. Please encourage all members of BirdLife South Africa to attend our AGM using this cheap, low carbon meeting alternative. Many thanks to John Bowey for all the hard work in ensuring that our AGM will be accessible to our members.

Mark D. Anderson
Chief Executive Officer
BirdLife South Africa

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

European Honey Buzzard in Umtentweni

Adeline Mccarter has sent through these pictures of a European Honey Buzzard in her garden in Umtentweni.
The ID has been confirmed by Stan Culley our representative on the KZN Rarities Committee.
Stan says that the bird ''is probably a female. The eyes in adult males are supposed to be more orange, yellow for females''.

Photos copyright Adeline Mccarter

Monday, 9 March 2015

Kamberg area trip report

Text & photos by Andy Ruffle

I attended the KZN Bird Club Forum at Howick this weekend and used the opportunity to investigate a site that had been highlighted by movement data from two of the Oribi satellite tagged Cape Vultures.

It quickly became apparent that a farm, near the Highmoor Vulture Colony, was putting out carcasses for the birds, so I set off to investigate.
I found the property in the Kamberg area and introduced myself at their office.
The farm has a piggery and started putting mortalities out for the vultures about a year ago. Previously, they used to bury them.

The son, Josh, very kindly offered to take me to the restaurant where we were greeted by some 70 Cape Vultures sitting on the ground, plus a few Bearded Vultures, White Storks and plenty of White-necked Ravens.

Around 70 Cape Vultures close to the restaurant
Juvenile Bearded Vulture flying near the restaurant
Note the transmitter antenna
on the back of this Bearded Vulture

Unfortunately, I didn’t have too much time to spare as I needed to get to Howick.
The activity at the restaurant was amazing and the bird life on the rest of the farm was incredible though. The backdrop was just something else.

The vulture restaurant

Stunning backdrop
showing the roosting cliffs in the far distance
White Stork after being flushed
Banded Martin hawks over the grasslands

It’s extremely heartening to know that the efforts of this farm are now benefitting a large population of vultures in the area and ofcourse our local Oribi Colony.

I will be keeping in touch with the farm and hope to return to the area for a few days later this year. I’ll check out the surrounding area also, as this looks like a very promising Trip Away destination.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Outing report - 8th March 2015 Gaze Farm & Culley's Dam, Port Edward

Attendees: Eric Kok, Liz Blomeyer, Bobby & Hazel Van Rooyen; Andrew Pickles, Stanley & Asothie Gengan; Piet & Marietjie Beukes; Lorraine Duncan, Ina de Koker, Vic & Kay Neilson; Ron & Elaine Whitham; Stan & Val Culley. (17 attendees).

female Eurasian Oriole
(Photo Stan Culley)

female Eurasian Oriole
(Photo Stan Culley)

Birds recorded: Fiery-necked Nightjar, Black-collared Barbet, Olive Sunbird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Long-crested Eagle, Giant Kingfisher, Black-bellied Starling, Cape Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Thick-billed Weaver, Village Weaver, Cape White-eye, Sombre Greenbul, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Tambourine Dove, Pin-tailed Whydah, Amethyst Sunbird, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Reed Cormorant, Egyptian Goose, White-faced Duck, Black Crake, African Jacana, Malachite Kingfisher, Black-headed Heron, Common Waxbill, Little Grebe, Fork-tailed Drongo, Yellow-billed Duck, Tawny-flanked Prinia,  Common Moorhen, Fan-tailed Widowbird; Bronze Mannikin, African Pygmy-Kingfisher, Red-winged Starling, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Natal Spurfowl, Hadeda Ibis, Red-eyed Dove, African Fish-Eagle, Little Bittern,
Lazy Cisticola, Yellow-fronted Canary, Knysna Turaco, Lesser Striped Swallow;
Barn Swallow, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Swamp-Warbler,
Alpine Swift, African Firefinch, Cape Glossy Starling, Speckled Mousebird,
Crowned Hornbill,  Common Fiscal, Trumpeter Hornbill, African Darter, African Purple Swamphen, Collared Sunbird. (59 species).