Friday, 29 April 2016

UPCOMING OUTING - Izotsha Creek Wetland: 8 May 2016

Common Greenshank

Meet at 07h00
Sunday 8 May 2016  BIRDLIFE TROGONS will visit Izotsha Creek Wetland.  Bring chairs, breakfast and something to braai for lunch.  ALL WELCOME. There is a R20pp charge for non-members of Birdlife Trogons.
57 species were seen on our previous visit, including Chinspot Batis, Woolly-necked Stork, Green-backed Heron, Burchell's Coucal, African Darter, Kelp Gull, Common Greenshank, African Goshawk 
Outings may be cancelled due to weather, check or phone Hazel before setting off. For further details telephone**  Hazel van Rooyen on 072 355 8837 or visit the blog.    ** Please note we cannot respond to text messages or “call me” requests.
Meet at the fruit & veg stalls near where the R620 crosses Izotsha Creek between Shelly Beach and Oslo Beach.  For further details & directions visit the blog. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Trogons Outing Report - Oribi Gorge & Vulture Hide, 24 April 2016

Attendees: Sandy Olver, Andrew Pickles, Michelle Pearson, Clive & Margie Cowan, Graham & Sue Salthouse, Doug & Angie Butcher, Irma Smook, Margaret Jones, Hazel Nevin,, Stan & Val Culley, Andrew Maree, Barrie Willis, Sue Hansbury and Cameron Den, Alastair Warman, Robin Eccles, Tim & Heather Thompson, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen (24)
(Text: Hazel van Rooyen)
Bird count:: 54  (see end)

Knysna Woodpecker (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Sunday 24 April was a day we were all looking forward to as we were going to one of our favourite places, Oribi Gorge, and also paying a visit to the Vulture Hide.  Starting at the hutted camp, an excellent number of 24 people turned up and eagerly made their way to the grasslands leading to a view down into the gorge.  It was still a bit early for birds (and the campers who were emerging bleary-eyed from their huts for coffee on their patios and wondering where all these senior citizen’s had materialised from, jaunting passed their huts at the crack of dawn). 
The front-runners disturbed a Yellow-throated Longclaw which flapped and glided off over the grass-tops in surprise and surveyed us from a dead tree.  The group split into two, some took the high road and some took the low road – we didn’t make it to Scotland but we did all meet up at the gorge.  Here we spent a while examining the gorge and surrounds, spotting a Little Sparrowhawk, Black-headed Oriole, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, African Dusky Flycatcher.  A flock of Trumpeter Hornbills landed in a few dead Lombardy Poplar trees, calling out like babies - as they do.  A pair of Olive Pigeons were also spotted.  Completing the loop we passed the edge of the forest where Sombre Greenbulls were calling, “Willie Willie”.  Moving back up the entrance road we knew there was a dam at the top but couldn’t see it for long grass.  It was almost surrounded by an electric fence but we squeezed through a gap successfully.  Andrew Pickles unintentionally tested the fence to see if it was live and getting a bit of a shock, concluded that it was!  Could only happen to Andrew – our electrical expert!  As we approached the dam a Jackal Buzzard glided away and a pair of African Black Duck took off, flying in perfect synchronisation.  Barn Swallows, Common Moorhen and Egyptian Goose also put in an appearance.

African Black Duck - synchronised flying (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

African Black Duck (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Breakfast was partaken at a view spot half-way down the gorge.
Having breakfast looking up the cliffs (photo: Dooug Butcher)
Bark Spider? (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
 A scary spider hung in its web in the bushes, I identified this as a Bark Spider but am not an expert.   An African Fish Eagle called overhead and we all sighed contentedly at the beauty surrounding us.  After coffee, some took a walk up the road spotting an Olive Sunbird while others went a short way up the Hoopoe Falls path identifying Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Cape Batis, Cape White-eye, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Knysna Turaco, and Dark-backed Weaver amongst others.  Hearing the near-threatened Knysna Woodpecker calling close by we excitedly searched the trees but sadly couldn’t spot it.
Hereford or Nguni? (photo: Doug Butcher)
On the way to our next venue a beautiful bull grazed in a field.  I don’t know much about cattle but it struck me as having a Hereford shape with the hide of the eye-catching Nguni breed.  

White-necked Raven(photo: Stan Culley)
 At the hide we were met by Herbie Osborne who guided us around.  The new hide is a stonebuilt structure, aesthetically fitting into the surroundings and ergonomically designed for taking photographs of the vultures at a carcass.  Unfortunately the dead goat recently put out had been devoured too quickly and just a few White-necked Ravens were still pecking at it.  Herbie explained that ravens have a symbiotic relationship with the vulture as their presence indicate that there is food around. 

Vulture Viewing Hide - Andy Ruffles pride (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)


White-necked Raven (photo: Andrew Pickles)

Cape Vulture (photo: Stan Culley)

Cape Vulture coming into land (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Cape Vulture fetching nesting material (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

At the cliff-edge we were fascinated to see the vultures wheeling about, flying to and from the rocky ledges where, being breeding season, they were taking nesting material.  
Precarious nesting place but not if you are a Cape Vulture (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Sandy Olver looking at the vultures (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
 Other birds seen up here were a Familiar Chat, African Stonechat, and Lanner Falcon.  The occasional flower also added a bit of colour and this little Kalanchoe luciae caught my eye, also known in Afrikaans as Bird Brandy.  
Kalanchoe luciae - Bird Brandy (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Andrew Pickles was lucky enough to get a close sighting of the rare Oribi, after which of course the area is named.
Oribi Male (photo: Andrew Pickles)
Returning to the gorge we set up at the picnic site for our braai.  While Stan and Bobby got the braai ready, Michelle and I took a stroll through the woodland next to the river hearing Southern Boubous and Green Wood-Hoopoes cackling close by.  Walking slowly back up the road to the picnic site we focused on a bird jumping around in a tree.  Michelle got her eyes on it and identified it as a woodpecker and on examining our photos it dawned on us it just might be the infamous Knysna Woodpecker.  We hesitantly showed it to our experts Stan and Andrew who said, Yes, definitely.  We were obviously dead chuffed about that one.  Tick! 

Knysna Woodpecker (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Knysna Woodpecker (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
 Other birds noted in this area were Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Spotted Ground-Thrush, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler and Collared Sunbird
Enjoying the braai (photo: Doug Butcher)
A scrumptious braai and great company rounded off our day and we parted feeling well-satisfied with our day’s birding.
Cape Vulture (photo: Doug Butcher)
 All photographs property of photographer
Count: 54 species 

Barbet Black-collared
Batis Cape
Boubou Southern
Bulbul Dark-capped
Buzzard Jackal
Camaroptera Green-backed
Chat Familiar
Cormorant Reed
Crane Grey Crowned
Cuckoo-shrike Grey
Dove Red-eyed
Drongo Fork-tailed
Drongo Square-tailed
Duck African Black
Eagle Long-crested
Falcon Lanner
Fiscal Common (Southern)
Fish-eagle African

Flycatcher African Dusky
Goose Egyptian
Greenbul Sombre
Ground-thrush Spotted
Hornbill Crowned
Hornbill Trumpeter
Ibis Hadeda
Kingfisher Brown-hooded
Longclaw Yellow-throated
Moorhen Common
Olive-pigeon African
Oriole Black-headed
Prinia Tawny-flanked
Puff-back Black-backed
Raven White-necked
Robin-Chat Red-capped
Sparrowhawk Little
Starling Red-winged

Stonechat African
Sunbird Collared
Sunbird Olive
Swallow Barn
Tinkerbird Yellow-rumped
Tit Southern Black
Turaco Knysna
Turtle-dove Cape
Vulture Cape
Wagtail Cape
Warbler Yellow-Throated Woodland
Waxbill Common
Weaver Dark-backed
White-eye Cape
Wood-hoopoe Green
Woodpecker Golden-tailed
Woodpecker Knysna

Friday, 22 April 2016


Sunday 01 May  6.30am:  BIRDLIFE TROGONS will visit iGwalagwala Forest where Andrew & Ivan Pickles will be bird ringing.  Bring cameras, chairs,  breakfast & if you wish to go up to Andrew & Ivan's afterwards, something to braai for lunch.
ALL WELCOME. There is a R20pp charge for non-members of Birdlife Trogons.
Outings may be cancelled due to weather, check
For further details & directions call Hazel van Rooyen on 072 355 8837 or visit the blog. 
  ** Please note we cannot respond to text messages or “call me” requests.
Please let Hazel know if you will be attending the outing.
From the R102 turn inland at the Upper Mellville turnoff, continue on tar road until it becomes a dirt road, once on the dirt continue a few hundred meters and take the first turn to the left (you will see a couple of trees here), continue on this farm road through the compound and chicken/pig pens and cross over the toll road on a single lane bridge, continue on this road until it turns sharp right, do not turn right but continue straight on the minor farm road and come to the cane loading zone.
Kind regards
Hazel van Rooyen
BirdLife Trogons Bird Club


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Talk at Crocworld by David Allan on Birds of Prey - 14 May 2016

David Allan Raptors Talk at
Crocworld Conservation Centre
Fans of Crocworld Conservation Centre’s monthly environmental talks are in for a treat on May 14th, when renowned ornithologist David Allan will become the latest in the park’s long line of influential speakers. Entitled ‘Birds of Prey - New Frontiers in our Knowledge and Identification', Allan’s talk promises to carry on the series’ tradition of celebrating the fascinating flora and fauna of Southern Africa.

In his talk, Allan will give guests an insight into two of his most recent field trips. On the first of these trips, Allan helped several esteemed ornithologists from overseas to document the presence of a bird of prey only recently recorded for the first time in Southern Africa. On the second, he joined a team investigating the status of a rare bird of prey in Zululand - and it is tales of these fascinating exploits that will form the core of his talk on May 14th.

Date: Saturday, 14 May
Time: 8:30 for 9:00am to 11:00am
08.30 - 9.00am: Registration and Welcome by Crocworld Conservation Centre.
9.00- 10.30am: Birds of Prey - New Frontiers in our Knowledge and Identification Talk
10.30- 11.00am: Tea & coffee (tea, coffee, scones)
There will be time for questions whilst tea and coffee is served.
Venue: Crocworld Conservation Centre 
Cost: R75.00 per adult and R35 per pensioner or scholar. Payment secures a place for the talk, please send proof of payment (or arrange to pay on the day)

BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL (space is limited)

Lunch is not included in the price. For those who would like to have lunch can return to Le Rendez- Vous Restaurant at Crocworld Conservation Centre which has beautiful views of the Coastline and serves light lunches.

To make your reservation contact: Nolean Allun, Crocworld Conservation Centre on 
(039) 976 1103/ (083) 654 9651 or e-mail
Account Details: Crocworld (Crookes Brothers Limited) Banking Details: FNB, 
Branch: Scottburgh, Branch Code: 220227, Account Number: 53640119111, please fax the proof of payment to (039) 978 3279

Friday, 15 April 2016

UPCOMING OUTING- 24 April 2016 Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve & Vulture Viewing Hide

Meet 06:30

Take N2 towards Harding, the Oribi Gorge N.R. turnoff is on the right just before Paddock.
Turn first left and meet at the KZN office at the hutted camp.
Set GPS to DD MM SS.S = S30 43 55.5  E30 16 24.0
 We never fail to find something of interest every time we explore this delightful reserve.
An entrance fee of R30 per person is payable but is negated if you have either a Rhino card or Wildcard – ensure you take it with you!
There is a R20 pp charge for non-members of BirdLife Trogons.
Bring chairs, packed breakfast and meat to braai for lunch. 

Outings may be cancelled due to weather, check or phone Hazel van Rooyen before setting off.
For further details & lift sharing **telephone  Hazel  on 072 355 8837.
** Please note we cannot respond to text messages or “call me” requests.


For further information about the reserve
For a list of birds recorded in the pentad