Sunday, 10 April 2016

Trogons Outing Report - Culley's Dam & Gaze Farm, 10 April 2016

Attendees: Doug & Angie Butcher, Barry Willis & Sue Hansbury, Stan & Val Culley, Graham & Sue Salthouse, Keith & Maureen Roach, Vic & Kay Nielson, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen,
(Text: Hazel van Rooyen)
Bird list:  (Count: 56)

Having met up at Banner’s Rest our group wended our way to Stan & Val’s beautiful garden and home where we were welcomed by numerous Village Weavers in the tree aloes. 
Culley's Dam (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
The garden was absolutely alive with a variety of birds, Speckled Mousebirds, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Cape White-eyes, Thick-billed Weavers and more, flitted amongst the lush indigenous trees and shrubbery.  A Greater Double-collared Sunbird gathered nectar from Aloe fosterii.
Greater Doubled-collared Sunbird 
Knysna Turaco (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Proceeding through the gate and around to the forested area which extends up the cliff to the Gaze Farm we searched the trees with our binocs for forest birds and found Black-backed Puffback, Southern Black Flycatcher, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Tambourine Dove and Knysna Turaco, amongst others.  Turning back, our eyes focused on the amazing wetland area that Stan has created.  Common Waxbills and Bronze Mannikins swung amongst the tall grasses as they foraged and when startled would take off as a flock with a whir of tiny wings. 

After having attracted some very special birds over the summer months – African Rail, Baillon’s AND Spotted Crakes, Lesser Jacana, Allen’s Gallinule and Pygmy Goose, and providing a safe habitat for the Spurwing and Egyptian Geese plus African Jacana to rear their chicks, it was now time for the dam to have a period of rest. “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven”. Even so we spotted Pied and Malachite Kingfishers, Reed Cormorant, Little Grebe, Black Crake, African Jacana, and the five surviving Spurwing Goose chicks, now almost adult-size but still being watched over by mom and dad.

Spurwing Goose (photo: Doug Butcher)
Spurwing Goose (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

African Jacana (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Coffee-time called and we settled on Val’s patio for our breakfast, becoming somewhat soporific in the shade as the day was fast warming up. 

Val's Patio (Photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
The sight of a Long-crested Eagle and African Harrier-Hawk soaring above, spurred us on.  Onward and upward!  With Stan leading, a few of us tackled the steep walk through the forest and up the mountainside to the open grassland looking out over the Umtamvuna estuary to the sparkling Indian Ocean.  En route we spotted Purple-crested Turaco, Yellow-throated Longclaw, Olive and Amethyst Sunbirds, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Crowned Hornbill and Paradise and Dusky Flycatchers. 
Yellow-throated Longclaw (photo: Doug Butcher)

White-faced Ducks on Gaze Dam (photo: Doug Butcher)
White-faced Ducks and Yellow-billed Ducks puddled about on the top dam and African Jacana treaded daintily on the lily pads.  Who could resist a posing butterfly and this one is a Diadem, male.  The female of the species Hypolimnus Misippus looks so different it even has a different common name, ie Mimic because it mimics the Milkweed butterfly which is distasteful to predators.
Diadem Butterfly (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

For others, the lure of the wetland was too much and they made their way back to the hides (yes, Stan has built another hide on the opposite side), and they were pleased to add Giant Kingfisher and Little Bittern to our day’s list.
After all the excitement we once again made ourselves comfortable on Val’s patio and enjoyed a relaxed and sociable braai.

(All photographs property of owner)
Birds seen (56 species)
Barbet Black-collared
Bittern Little
Boubou Southern
Bulbul Dark-capped
Canary Yellow-fronted
Cormorant Reed
Coucal Burchell’s
Crake Black
Dove Cape Turtle
Dove Red-eyed
Dove Tambourine
Drongo Fork-tailed
Drongo Square-tailed
Duck White-faced
Duck Yellow-billed
Eagle Long-crested
Flycatcher Dusky
Flycatcher Paradise
Flycatcher Southern Black

Goose Egyptian
Goose Spurwing
Grebe Little
Greenbul Sombre
Harrier-Hawk African
Hornbill Crowned
Ibis Hadedah
Jacana African
Kingfisher Brown-hooded
Kingfisher Giant
Kingfisher Malachite
Kingfisher Pied
Longclaw Yellow-throated
Mannikin Bronze
Moorhen Common
Mousebird Speckled
Oriole Black-headed
Puffback Black-backed
Robin-Chat Red-capped

Sparrow Grey-headed
Starling Black-bellied
Starling Red-wing
Sunbird Amethyst
Sunbird Greater Double-collared
Sunbird Grey
Sunbird Olive
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
Turaco Knysna
Turaco Purple-crested
Warbler Little Rush
Waxbill Common
Weaver Forest
Weaver Thick-billed
Weaver Village
White-eye Cape
Whydah Pin-tailed

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