Sunday, 24 January 2016

Outing report - Mpenjati Nature Reserve, 24 January 2016

Mpenjati Estuary (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
(Text: Hazel van Rooyen)
Attendees: Ron & Elaine Whitham, Eric Kok, June Burnett, Vaughn & Jenny Meyrick, Alastair Warman, Joey van Niekerk, Val & Stan Culley, Vic & Kay Nielson, Doug & Angie Butcher, Louis Marx, Irma Smook, Keith & Maureen Roach, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen
Bird count: 32 (see end)
Instead of the rain that was forecast, a misty morning greeted us at Mpenjati Nature Reserve.  A grand-spanking 20 folk turned up – a very encouraging turn-out and it was lovely to see some of the longer-standing members once again as well as some new faces.
Sunrise over Mpenjati (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Arriving at the South gate, the pop-pop-pop of the Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, the squawk of the Brown-hooded Kingfisher and screech of the Golden-tailed Woodpecker were the first to welcome us.  Moving down to the parking area, Woolly-necked Storks puddled about at the water’s edge and Pied Kingfishers dived spectacularly into the river.  Black Oyster-catchers and Grey Herons circled over the estuary while a Ruff and Common Sandpiper inspected the waterline for insects and other interesting invertebrates.

Woolly-necked Storks (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Brown-hooded Kingfisher (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Half the party ventured a walk up to the grassland area and although fairly quiet produced Green-backed Cameroptera, Fork-tailed Drongo, Black-collared Barbet, Amethyst Sunbird, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Dark-capped Bulbul, Hadedah Ibis, Glossy Starling and Sombre Greenbul.  A long-crested Eagle surveyed its world haughtily from a telephone pole, whilst a family of Yellow-billed Ducks flew overhead, quacking heartily.  Our usual pathway to the beach through the dune forest had become swampy but having found another route, on reaching the sand-dunes, it began to rain and not wanting to get equipment wet, we hurriedly retraced our steps to the cars by which time the rain had, of course, stopped.
Little Tern (photo: Stan Culley)

White-fronted Plover (photo: Stan Culley)

The other half of the party were by this time tucking into breakfast and we gladly joined them.  While we had been looking for birds of the veld and vlei, they had navigated the little bridge to the beach where they had espied  Blacksmith Plover, Little Tern, Swift Tern, Common Greenshank and a White-fronted plover scampered up and down the tideline like a bit of blown spume.  More Woolly-necked Storks strode and darted along the beach and on closer examination Vaughn observed they were trying to catch crabs.  Stan zoomed in on the Little and Swift Terns with his wonderful scope, demonstrating the difference in size.  

Getting stuck into breakfast (photo: Doug Butcher)

Replete (photo: Doug Butcher)

White-breasted Cormorant (photo: Stan Culley)
A White-breasted Cormorant perched proudly on a log as we finished our coffee, after which we drove round to the north side of the river.  On a reconnoitre of the trails, it appeared they were either partly under water, washed away or still in need of repair and as it was very hot and humid, after a short walk, we decided to view the birds from the comfort of our picnic chairs!  Lesser-striped and Barn Swallows fluttered and swooped over the water and a Giant Kingfisher flashed from one side to the other.  A pair of Water Thick-knees blended into the river bank beneath the bridge, a Little Egret sat stock still in the reeds and all was quiet and peaceful.

(All photographs copyright of the photographer)

Bird List:
Barbet, Black-collared
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Bulbul, Sombre
Cameroptera, Green-backed
Cormorant, White-fronted
Drongo, Fork-tailed
Duck, Yellow-billed
Eagle, African Fish
Eagle, Long-crested
Egret, Little
Greenshank, Common
Heron, Grey
Ibis, Hadedah
Kingfisher, Brown-hooded
Kingfisher, Giant
Kingfisher, Pied
Lapwing, Blacksmith
Oystercatcher, Black
Sandpiper, Common
Starling, Glossy
Stork, Woolly-necked
Sunbird, Amethyst
Swallow, Barn
Swallow, Lesser-striped
Tern, Little
Tern, Swift
Thick-knee, Water
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
White-eye, Cape
Widowbird, Fan-tailed
Woodpecker, Golden-tailed


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