Sunday, 10 July 2016

Outing report - Mpenjati Conservancy, 10 July 2016

Attendees: Val Culley,  Doug & Angie Butcher, Graham & Sue Salthouse, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Clive & Margie Cowan, Hazel van Rooyen, Stefan Ringelmann, Louis & Pat Fourie
Bird count:  47(see end)
Text: Hazel van Rooyen

Today was such a different bird count from our previous outing in January, which is to be expected I suppose, it now being mid-winter. 
Kelp Gulls on the sandbank whilst a container ship looms ghost-like on the horizon (photo: Doug Butcher)
From the carpark we watched as a Pied Kingfisher dived for his breakfast from his vantage point on a washed-up tree-trunk and White-breasted Cormorants dried out their wings.  Both Pied and Cape Wagtails inspected the grassy area around the braais for tidbits.  A Grey Sunbird perched high in a strelitzia while a Black-headed Heron flew over the estuary.  Stefan spotted a Purple-banded Sunbird which we don’t usually see around here as it is at the limit of its range and this is the most southerly sighting Stan has heard about.
Grey Sunbird (photo: Stefan Ringelmann)
Purple-banded Sunbird (photo: Stefan Ringelmann)

Taking the tar-road up to the grasslands we spotted Black-bellied Starling, Dusky Flycatcher, Southern Black Flycatcher amongst others.  A Golden-tailed Woodpecker squawked intermittently from the woodland and Tambourine Doves flashed across our eye-line.  The boggy areas of grassland were dotted prettily with the orange and yellow of Red Hot Pokers.  Proceeding through the sand forest all was quiet until we came out into the sunshine onto the ground-cover laced dunes with the high tides pounding on to the beach.
Red Hot Pokers on water-logged grassland (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
In the past the arrival of the sardines at this time of year would have also heralded the appearance of many more seabirds but those days are gone so it was nice to see a flock of about 40 Kelp Gulls and 15 Swift Terns resting on the sandbank.  
Swift Tern (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Kelp Gull (photo:Doug Butcher)

A visit to Mpenjati wouldn’t be complete without sighting the White-fronted Plover scampering about on the littoral.  A fascinating piece of bamboo drift-wood supported a colony of barnacles in a very pretty fashion, conjuring up visions of it being swept around beneath mysterious deep oceans.
White-fronted Plover (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Barnacles (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

The photographers took advantage of the sight of a pair of dapper African Black Oystercatchers marching up and down the river tide-line.
African Black Oystercatchers (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
After breakfast we made our way across to the other side of the estuary and investigated the forest walk to the beach.  Sadly the boardwalk through the forest still hasn’t been repaired but we enjoyed the walk as far as we could go, spotting Terrestrial Brownbul, Brown-hooded Kingfisher and Grey Waxbill.  As we returned back into the open a flock of Woolly-necked Storks were circling high on the thermals.
Grey Waxbill (photo: Stefan Ringelmann)
 Those who stayed on for the braai added a Black-headed Oriole to the day’s list.
Breakfast at Mpenjati (photo: Doug Butcher)

Breakfast at Mpenjati River (photo: Doug Butcher)
47 species

Barbet, Black-collared
Boubou, Southern
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Brownbul, Terrestrial
Cisticola, Rufous-winged
Cormorant, Reed
Cormorant, White-breasted
Dove, Red-eyed
Dove, Tambourine
Drongo, Fork-tailed
Egret, Little
Fiscal, Common
Fish Eagle, African
Flycatcher, Dusky
Flycatcher, Southern Black
Goose, Egyptian

Green-Pigeon, African
Greenbul, Sombre
Gull, Kelp
Heron, Black-headed
Ibis, Hadeda
Kingfisher, Brown-hooded
Kingfisher, Giant
Kingfisher, Pied
Mannikin, Bronze
Oriole, Black-headed
Plover, White-fronted
Prinia, Tawny-flanked
Robin-Chat, Red-capped
Starling, Black-bellied
Stork, Woolly-necked

Sunbird, Amethyst
Sunbird, Collared
Sunbird, Grey
Sunbird, Olive
Sunbird, Purple-banded
Tern, Swift
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
Tit, Southern Black
Wagtail, Cape
Wagtail, Pied
Waxbill, Grey
Weaver, Spectacled
Weaver Yellow
White-eye, Cape
Woodpecker, Golden-tailed

(All photos property of photographer)

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