BirdLife Trogons Bird Club is a non-profit organisation (NPO-040-174), affiliated to BirdLife South Africa. Based on the South Coast of Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, our catchment area is between Scottburgh and Port Edward. Members are welcome from any part of the world. For more information see the 'About Us' or 'Contact Us' pages.
Outing Report - 25 October 2015 - Culley Dam & Gaze Farm
Trogon bird outing – 25 October 2015
Culley Dam & Gaze Farm, Port Edward
Attendees: Eric Kok; Stanley
& Asothie Gengan; Vic & Kay Neilson; Margaret Jones; Doug
& Angie Butcher; Rob Eccles; Hazel Nevin; Sandy Olver;
Keith & Maureen Roach; Geoff Oliver; Ron & Elaine Whitham;
Stan & Val Culley; Bobby & Hazel van Rooyen (20)
Text & photos: Hazel van Rooyen
A bright and breezy morning
greeted us at our meeting place of Banner’s Rest where a Pied Wagtail chirped
from the roof of the buildings. Other
birds noted while we waited for the last people to arrive were Brown-hooded
Kingfisher, Olive Sunbird, Olive Thrush, Glossy Starling, Golden-rumped
Tinkerbird, Black-backed Puffback, and Tawny-flanked Prinia.
From here we proceeded to
Stan & Val’s house where Stan led us first to the edge of the forest. Here a Lesser Honeyguide searched for insects
in a fig tree and Trumpeter Hornbills sobbed higher up the hillside. Proceeding towards the dam, gregarious Common
Waxbills and Bronze Mannikins foraged in the tall grasses and male chocolate-brown
Thick-billed Weavers perched atop the reeds surveying their distinctive nests,
each securely attached to two reeds.
Apparently the exterior is mostly built by the male but the inside is
strictly left up to the female for that finer touch.
Thick-billed Weaver's nest
Thick-billed Weaver (M)
Spurwing and Egyptian Geese
had made themselves at home on the dam, as had African Jacanas, Black Crakes,
Little Grebes and Common Moorhens. Walking
around the dam, a Reed Cormorant took up its favourite position on a dead tree
in the middle of the dam and the resident Hamerkop flew off disturbed by our
presence. Close to the hide Spectacled,
Village, and Yellow Weavers were busy feeding and nesting and a flock of Red
Bishops suddenly flew off, making a colourful sight. Flitting in the reed-beds Fan-tailed Widows
were a flash of black with a dab of red.
Lesser-striped and White-throated Swallows, White-rumped Swifts and
Black Sawwings performed their speedy manoeuvres above our heads. All around a Black Cuckoo was calling
persistently “I’m so sad”.
African Jacana - what big feet you have
Back at the house, coffee
was calling which we enjoyed whilst watching Collared and Amethyst Sunbirds, after
which the party split up, some folk returning to the dam and a few trying their
luck on the walk up the mountain. It was
quiet (and hot) through the woods but emerging at the top a Crowned Eagle made
a fly-past. A splash of purple nestled
amongst the vegetation was Thunbergia Natalensis (the Natal Bluebell). The top dam had very little water and had a couple
of guys messing about. The only bird was
a lonely Blacksmith Lapwing “kllink, klink, klinking”. On the way back down a Lazy Cisticola chirped
crossly at us.
On returning from our
somewhat unproductive but energetic walk we were told excitedly of sightings of
African Harrier-Hawk, Long-crested Eagle, Crowned Eagles, Knysna Turacos. It was lovely to sit on Val’s patio with an
ice-cold drink but refreshed once again we took another stroll down to the dam
where Stan’s latest visitor, a Great Egret had re-appeared and was finding some
tasty morsels to gulp down. A sit in the
new hide only revealed a cheeky Pin-tailed Whydah, being the wrong time of day
After a lovely braai, these
human birders spread their wings and made their way home. Thanks go to Stan & Val for sharing their
lovely home, garden and wetland with us.