Friday, 29 May 2015

Outing report - 24th May 2015 Stott Farm, Umtentweni

Text and photos by Hazel van Rooyen

Attending: Eric Kok, Barry Willis & Sue Hansbury, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Sandy Olver, Hazel Nevin, Willie & Walter, Graham & Patricia Pirie,  Alistair Warman, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, apologies if I have missed anyone.

Quite a few birds were spotted at our meet and greet point at the entrance to the farm, including Purple-crested Turaco, Olive Sunbird and African Paradise Flycatcher. The morning’s birding began with a circular stroll along the edge of the sugar cane and past evergreen forest.  The forest yielded, amongst others, Black-collared Barbet, Terrestrial Brownbul and at the top of the road some small birds were dropping like stones from the branches of a magnificent tree behind the sugar cane, then flying up again.  On close inspection Magpie Mannikins were busily building a large nest.
Further around lots of birds were calling, including Sombre Greenbul, Knysna Turaco and Black-headed Oriole.  Amethyst and Collared Sunbirds flitted in the treetops and a Woodpecker was identified as a Cardinal.  Almost back at the cars and an African Goshawk was spotted, which instantly flew off, upsetting a family of Natal Spurfowl scratching amongst the recently cut sugar cane.
Coffee was calling and we drove further onto the farm to find a grassy, shady place to take some refreshment.  The birds seem to love the area surrounding the farmhouse and the hedgerows up to the farmhouse were alive with birds – Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds, Yellow-fronted Canaries, Red-winged and Black-bellied Starlings amongst them.   A short way past the house, a Black Cuckoo-shrike was spotted and at the same time another greyish bird posed on a branch, later identified from a photograph as a Lesser Honeyguide by our expert Stan (who wasn’t even there).  Usually at this point we drive a bit further but some folk had their walking legs on so the rest of us dutifully followed, commenting that the trouble with downhills is the uphills.  However, it was a beautiful autumn day and we were happy to be out and about in our wonderful climate.  Down, down and along the avenue of coral trees (who had the foresight to plant this lovely avenue for future generations of humans and birds to enjoy I wondered?) and on reaching the bottom an African Fish Eagle circled slowly over our heads, greeting us with its evocative cry.
After watching some Pin-tailed Whydahs commuting between  grass and tree, most of us turned our eyes upwards and started plodding uphill as the sun turned up its heat.  Brown-hooded Kingfishers, Ashy Flycatchers, a Black-backed Puffback accompanied our upward trek.

A few of us made ourselves comfortable with some liquid refreshments and a picnic, while most decided to have an early day and another good day’s birding was over. 

Magpie Mannikin

Lesser Honeyguide

Dusky Flycatcher

Magpie Mannikin

Cardinal Woodpecker

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird

Dusky Flycatcher

Birds recorded (courtesy Sandy Olver):
Sparrow House
Ibis Hadeda
Turaco Purple-crested
Sunbird Olive
Dove Red-eyed
Bulbul Dark-capped
Robin-chat Red-capped
Paradise-flycatcher African
Hornbill Trumpeter
Brownbul Terrestrial
Spurfowl Natal
Barbet Black-collared
Mannikin Magpie
Flycatcher African Dusky
White-eye Cape
Greenbul Sombre
Drongo Fork-tailed
Weaver Spectacled
Weaver Dark-backed
Woodpecker Cardinal
Turaco Knysna
Oriole Black-headed
Sunbird Amethyst
Sunbird Collared
Starling Black-bellied
Goshawk African
Wagtail African Pied
Starling Red-winged
Canary Yellow-fronted
Rush-warbler Little
Saw-wing Black (Southern race)
Weaver Thick-billed
Tinkerbird Yellow-rumped
Mousebird Speckled
Cuckoo-shrike Black
Thrush Olive
Hamerkop Hamerkop
Fish-eagle African
Wood-hoopoe Green
Whydah Pin-tailed
Kingfisher Brown-hooded
Flycatcher Ashy
Puffback Black-backed
Quelea Red-billed
Fiscal Common (Southern)

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Outing report - 10th May 2015 Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve

by Hazel van Rooyen

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury, Margaret Jones, Hazel Parry, Doug & Angie Butcher, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen; Alistair Warman, John & Pat visiting from Zimbabwe. (13 attendees).

After a mild start, the elements decided to show us that autumn was really here and it turned cloudy and cool.  We were glad of our jackets and the birdlife also preferred to stay hidden beneath leafy branches.  A meander across the grassland at the hutted camp revealed Black-collared Barbet, Yellow-fronted Canary, African Darter, Red-eyed Dove, Yellow-throated Longclaw, White-necked Raven, Black-bellied Starling, Cape Glossy Starling, Red-wing Starling, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, and Olive Sunbird.

Back at the camp a large troop of Samango monkeys swung about in the trees.  An inspection of a new dam on farmland next to the entrance proved uninteresting.  A Red-eyed Dove and Yellow-fronted Canary surveyed the scene from high up on the lifeless branches of a dead tree.
Moving to the picnic spot halfway down the gorge road for breakfast, a Pied Crow and Jackal Buzzard fought for airspace above the tree tops and the occasional Crowned Hornbill swooped undulating across our view.  On walking up the hill Green Wood-Hoopoes cackled in the trees.

Down in the valley, a saunter through the riverine forest produced Southern Boubou, African Firefinch, Sombre Greenbul, and Dark-backed Weaver and strolling a short way along the Hoopoe Falls trail yielded nothing new, just a few butterflies attracted to the alien Lantana – I wonder why!

After all that, a lovely braai was enjoyed by all sitting by the riverside.

Birds recorded: to follow