Saturday, 19 March 2016

Trogons outing report - TC Robertson Nature Reserve, 13 March 2016

Hamerkops (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Attendees: Doug & Angie Butcher, Irma Smook, Margaret Jones, Hazel Nevin, Lennart Erikssen, Carol Louw, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen,
(Text: Hazel van Rooyen)
Bird count 47 (see end)
Sunday 13 March saw a small but serious bunch of birders meeting up at the TC Robertson Nature Reserve in Scottburgh.  Whilst waiting for the gate to open a Grey Heron on a dead stick in the river posed for us to give it closer inspection and two squawking and croaking Hamerkops on the far bank performed some not so innocent antics.  A third ran around wondering what was going on and an Egyptian Goose came to see what the fuss was about.  Pied Wagtails played in the dead tree and 3-banded Plovers scampered at the edge of the river.
Grey Heron (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Pied Wagtails (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Tasselberry - sumptious fare enjoyed by many birds (Photo : Hazel van Rooyen)
Eventually the gatekeeper arrived and we drove into the reserve.  Hazel Nevin ably led us through the forested Shaka/Bushbuck Trail which climbs up the side of the hill – and up, and up.  Most of the forest was quiet until the vegetation thinned out and here the sunshine was awakening the birds – Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds (naturally), White-eared Barbets, Bronze Mannikins, Amethyst and Grey Sunbirds and Cape White-eyes.  Here we noticed a tree with tassel after tassel of bright-coloured berries – the Tasselberry, enjoyed by most birds. And rounding the top of the hill Red-wing Starlings whistled musically, Black-capped Bulbuls chittered, while the hollow bubbling of the Burchell’s Coucall could be heard in the distance.  Descending the hill, we began to see Olive Sunbird, Yellow-fronted Canary, Thick-billed and Yellow Weavers.  Down at river level some Grey Waxbills in a tall far-away tree were difficult to identify but juvenile Little Bee-eaters proved more obliging.  A Familiar Chat flashed its rufous rump and a Chin-spot Batis sang “three blind mice”.
Little Bee-eater Juvenile (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Little Bee-eater (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Breakfast in a shady spot (Photo: Doug Butcher)
By this time we had worked up an appetite and enjoyed our breakfast beneath some shady trees, after which we approached the River Walk via a hide at a pond but this was quite dry and nothing stirred except for a Tawny-flanked Prinia in the reed-bed.   
Goliath Heron (Photo: Doug Butcher)
At the river a Goliath Heron sat humped like an old man on a dead tree.  Further around the river bend, the Kingfisher Hide was strategically placed and we spent some time watching Pied Kingfishers diving very successfully for small-fry.  
Pied Kingfisher diving for a meal (Photo: Butcher)
Pied Kingfisher with a tasty tidbit (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

 Blacksmith Lapwings patrolled the bank while Sacred Ibis flew in and out.  An African Harrier-Hawk soared high above and an immature African Fish-Eagle surveyed the river from the tree-tops.  Suddenly a Purple Heron flew in but disappeared quickly into the reeds.  Woolly-necked Storks circled in front of us but decided there was nothing worth stopping for and flew away over the hills.  At the side of the hide a Yellow Weaver had a nest and brought a yummy juicy grasshopper to his family.
Woolly-necked Stork (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Yellow Weaver (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
From here we walked back to the vehicles and Hazel showed us the way to the opposite side of the river where we drove slowly along the river bank.  A Malachite Kingfisher caught her eye but was too quick for the rest of us. 
Crookes Family Church, Renishaw (Photo: Doug Butcher)
Graveyard looking out to the ocean (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Driving further on up the hill we came to a lovely little church which belonged to the Crooke family, sugar barons from the 19th century.  A well-kept churchyard of by-gone family members looked over the Mpenbanyoni River valley to the sea.  From this vantage point Hazel pointed out to us a Crowned Eagle’s nest and was about to say that there hadn’t been a chick last year when the wind blew a frond of green away from the nest and there sat a beautiful chick!  Delight all round!  It had been perfectly hidden by the frond and we had to wait for the wind to blow to get a good but fleeting look.
Crowned Eagle Juvenile (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Crowned Eagle Juvenile (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
What a lovely way to end our morning’s birding.  We had our picnic in the peace and quiet next to the church and parted company - until next time.
 (All photographs property of photographer)
Bird count: 47
Barbet Black-collared
Barbet White-eared
Batis Chin Spot
Bee-eater Little
Bulbul Black-capped
Canary Yellow-fronted
Chat Familiar
Cormorant Reed
Coucall Burchell’s
Dove Red-eyed
Dove Tambourine
Eagle African Fish
Eagle Crowned
Egret Little
Goose Egyptian

Harrier-Hawk African
Heron Goliath
Heron Grey
Heron Purple
Ibis Hadedah
Ibis Sacred
Kingfisher Brown-hooded
Kingfisher Malachite
Kingfisher Pied
Lapwing Blacksmith
Mannikin Bronze
Martin Brown-throated
Plover 3-banded
Prinia Tawny-flanked
Spurfowl Natal
Starling Red-winged

Stork Woolly-necked
Sunbird Amethyst
Sunbird Grey
Sunbird Olive
Swallow Barn
Swallow White-throated
Tinkerbird Yellow-rumped
Turaco Purple-crested
Wagtail Cape
Wagtail Pied
Waxbill Grey
Weaver Spectacled
Weaver Thick-billed
Weaver Yellow
White-eye Cape


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