Sunday, 10 January 2016

Outing report - Amanzimtoti Bird Sanctuary, 10 January 2016

 (Text: Hazel van Rooyen)
Attendees:   Stan & Val Culley, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Judith Gawehn (visitor)
Amanzimtoti Bird Park (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Total bird count: 44 species plus 2 at Illovo (see end)
Our first outing of 2016 found us visiting a new venue for the club, Amanzimtoti Bird Sanctuary, and later the Illovo River.  Disappointingly, the indeterminate weather combined with the distance must have discouraged people and only four members turned up, plus a visitor from Ballito, Judith, who was keen to explore the southern side of the KZN coast.  Well, I believe we shared a good morning’s birding at this little jewel of a park.  It is landscaped around a small pond which originally at the turn of the century (1900 century that is!) provided all the water needs of the town and is now home to a variety of water and forest birds.
Purple Heron (photo: Stan Culley)

Malachite Kingfisher (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Our arrival was heralded by the trumpeting of a Peacock on an adjacent rooftop and Stan soon spotted a Diederik Cuckoo.  A Red-capped Robin-Chat hopped and darted amongst the flower borders close to the entrance whilst a Tambourine Dove pecked at seed scattered by some generous visitor.  The resident White-eared Barbets perched on high branches and a Purple Heron swayed in the treetops overlooking the dam.  Common Moorhen and Little Grebe dived and paddled about the pond and a Malachite Kingfisher flashed hither and thither, totally unconscious of how it lit up a dull day.  Village Weavers were busy nesting on branches overhanging the water.  Black-bellied Starlings trilled and chattered and the resident Little Sparrowhawk swooped about overhead looking for a tasty meal.
Making a start up the Ilongwe Trail, several largish crabs were scuttling in the dead leaf debris and one had grabbed a toad almost as big as itself.  And he wasn’t letting go!  Forest birds chirped, tweeted and warbled all around us as we strolled through the lush riparian forest but the mosquitoes had us scuttling along in some places.  
African Paradise Fly-catcher (photo: Stan Culley)

Reed Cormorant (photo: Stan Culley)
 African Paradise Fly-catchers added enticing brief glimpses of rufous and blue.  Towards the rear of the park there is an open grassy area and we had a clear view to the skies of a Lanner Falcon harassing Woolly-necked Storks.  Here too, Brown-hooded Kingfishers and Violet-backed Starlings performed excited alightings and flicking of wings in the top of a dead tree.  A long walkway bridged the pond providing a shaded canopy either side from which to view the water birds.  A Reed Cormorant found a perfect pitch in a dead tree from which to catch unsuspecting fish, Yellow Weavers clung on to the reeds and Palm Swifts, Little Swifts, Lesser-striped and Barn Swallows wheeled and glided in the air.  Spurwing and Egyptian Geese were arriving from their roost – wings flapping and webbed feet braced for touch-down on the pond. 
Yellow Weaver (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Coffee-time in the picnic area (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

After some refreshment at the picnic site, we followed another trail which crossed a small bridge over the stream, leading to a leafy glade where we spotted Thick-billed Weaver, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Black-collared Barbet and Purple-crested Turaco, amongst others.  In yet another secluded corner, a small stream trickled from the pond, watched over by a Mountain Wagtail.
Cape White-eye (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

A bit later we made our way as planned to the Illovo River but unfortunately there was too much water for waders and the only water-birds we saw were a White-breasted Cormorant and Common Sandpiper, so we decided to call it a day, especially as the weather was beginning to break up.

(All photographs copyright of the photographers)

Barbet Black-collared
Kingfisher Brown-hooded
Swift Little
Barbet White-eared
Kingfisher Malachite
Swift Palm
Bulbul Dark-capped
Kite Yellow-billed
Tinkerbird Yellow-rumped
Cameroptera Green-backed
Mannikin Bronze
Turaco Purple-crested
Cormorant Reed
Moorhen Common
Wagtail Mountain
Cuckoo Diederik
Mousebird Speckled
Warbler Little Rush
Dove Red-eyed
Prinia Tawny-flanked
Warbler Willow
Dove Tambourine
Robin-Chat Red-capped
Weaver Spectacled
Drongo Fork-tailed
Sparrow Grey-headed
Weaver Thick-billed
Falcon Lanner
Sparrow-hawk Little
Weaver Village
Fly-catcher African Paradise
Starling Black-bellied
Weaver Yellow
Goose Egyptian
Starling Red-wing
White-eye Cape
Goose Spurwing
Starling Violet-backed
Illovo River
Grebe Little
Stork Woolly-necked
Cormorant White-breasted
Heron Purple
Swallow Barn
Sandpiper Common 
Ibis Hadedah
Swallow Lesser-striped

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