Sunday, 25 October 2015

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. 

Great Egret


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 for warblers.

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.

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