Saturday, 29 October 2016

UPCOMING OUTLING - Bird Ringing, 6 November 2016 @ 05:30



Dear Members

Black-backed Puffback
Sunday 6 November 2016  BIRDLIFE TROGONS will be bird ringing with Andrew & Ivan Pickles at their home venue (first net inspection 05:30).  Bring cameras, chairs,  breakfast & if you wish to go to Andrew & Ivan's afterwards, something to braai for lunch
 
ALL WELCOME. There is a R20pp charge for non-members of Birdlife Trogons.
Please let Andrew know on 082 338 3302 if you will be attending the outing.
Outings may be cancelled due to weather.  Phone Andrew Pickles before setting off.  For further details & directions telephone* Andrew or visit the blog  www.birdlifetrogons.blogspot.com.     ** Please note we cannot respond to text messages or “call me” requests.
Directions:  Take the Umzumbe/Fairview Mission turn-off from the R102. Travel +/-250m to a “T” Junction and turn right, continue for 2.1km’s to another “T”Junction and turn right (now on a dirt road), after 1.2km the road forks take the left hand fork (D150) up the hill, from this fork measure 900m and turn right onto the farm. Follow the road and keep left until you see the bakkie at the workshops.

Kind regards
Hazel van Rooyen
Secretary
BirdLife Trogons Bird Club

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Trogons Outing report - Eston Sugar Mill, 23 October 2016



Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Jonathan Davidson, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Tina Haine, Caryl Lowe, Andrew Maree, Hazel Nevin, Sandy Olver, Andrew Pickles, Graham & Sue Salthouse , Barry Swaddle and Noel, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen (17 attendees)

Species counted: 84  (see end)                                              Text: Hazel van Rooyen

 
Purple Swamphen  (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
It was with a big question in mind that we set out last Sunday – will the weather hold?  - because it can be a totally different climate inland to our normal bird-watching territory on the coast.  Fortunately it held just long enough for us to have a good look around the general area followed by the ponds at the sugar mill, after which the mist became a bit too damp.  Having Barry Swaddle to lead us for this outing was a bonus.  His familiarity with the area, knowing where those special birds like to frequent and his pleasure in sharing his knowledge with others is amazing.



Barry started us off with a drive along a dirt road and past the Toyota testing grounds.  This is an area which is kept under wraps  - literally.  He explained that the vehicles actually arrive “under wraps” so the opposition cannot get a peak and the area is heavily secured.  Therefore most of the time the birds are undisturbed by humans.  A pair of Oribi (rarely seen these days) also enjoy the privacy.  
Oribi (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

We could only see the edge of this area as the land fell away sharply but we soon spotted a pair of Crowned Lapwings and a Rufous-naped Lark.  
Crowned Lapwing (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)




 
Other birds in the vicinity were Fantailed and Red-collared Windowbird, African Stonechat, Yellow-fronted Canary, and Red-winged Starling, amongst others. 
 
Red-knobbed Coot and chick (photo: Hazel Nevin)
Moving along to a farm dam, Southern Red Bishop were frantically nest-building in the reeds, swizzling away to their hearts’ content, while Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen and Little Grebe tootled about on the water, along with White-backed Duck.  A Purple Heron landed and promptly disappeared into a bed of reeds while a Diderick’s Cuckoo called nearby.                      Here we gulped down some coffee and snacks.   






Purple Swamphen (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Then we were off again to yet another dam where a pair of Purple Swamphen stepped delicately upon the pond weed and Southern Pochard and Hottentot Teal dabbled along contentedly.  



An African Marsh Harrier was observed high above us.  A little further along we stopped to identify a Yellow-billed Kite and then spotted another raptor preening on a tree in the distance,  which Stan recognised as a Common (Steppe) Buzzard.  The side of the road here rose steeply up a hill and somehow Tina Haine spotted a Jackal Buzzard, also resting on a tree.  There was a bit of a cut-away in the hillside where Yellow-throated Longclaw and Common Waxbill foraged on a pile of sugar cane.   

Kitlitz Plover (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)





 On again, pulling over this time next to a field where Barry had observed a Red-capped Lark.  African Pipit and Kitlitz Plover were also very active.

Red-capped Lark (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

African Pipit - observe white outer tail feathers (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Our next stop was Eston Sugar Mill at last.  Here, a small chapel and wedding venue lent a nostalgic air.  We decided to see what was in the three dams, rising up a slight incline.  African Fish-Eagle and White-breasted Cormorant were easy to spot but then a startled Black-crowned Night-Heron burst out of the reeds.  Other water-birds here were Hottentot Teal, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-billed Teal and waders – Wood Sandpiper, Blacksmith Lapwing and Black-headed Heron.  Further around, a wooden deck afforded a more central view of the dam and higher up on the next dam Barry spotted a Malachite Kingfisher.

Having had a bit of a walk around the dams, we would have braaied if the weather had been slightly more encouraging but Barry needed to get home and still wanted to show us some ponds on the other side of the sugar mill so he guided us through the sugar cane fields to where there were more ponds.  Sadly, the one that had been the best bird-wise was almost dried up.   
Searching for waders (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
However, we still saw Three-banded Plover, Ruff, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Little Stint, Common Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, African Palm Swift and Barn Swallow and to top it all a pair of Grey Crowned Cranes arose out of the marsh waving their showy wings before re-settling further away.
Grey Crowned Crane (photo: Hazel Nevin)

At this point some people left to return home while the braaiers pondered whether to risk a braai.  Feeling the rain becoming stronger we considered we had been lucky with the weather so far, no point in pressing our luck and all headed homewards, content that we had had such a rewarding day.

I didn't believe these existed - a four-leafed clover - what good luck! (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Thankyou to all those who braved the poor weather.

Species seen:
Barbet Black-collared
Bishop Southern Red
Boubou Southern
Bulbul Black-capped
Buzzard (Steppe) Common
Buzzard Jackal
Cameroptera Green-backed
Canary Yellow-fronted
Cisticola Levaillant’s
Coot Red-knobbed
Cormorant Reed
Coucal Burchell’s
Crane Grey Crowned
Crow Cape
Crow Pied
Cuckoo Diderick’s
Cuckoo Red-chested
Darter
Duck White-backed
Duck White-faced
Duck Yellow-billed
Fiscal Common
Fish-Eagle African
Goose Egyptian
Grebe Little
Greenbul Sombre
Greenshank Common
Guineafowl Helmeted

Heron Black-headed
Heron Purple
Ibis African Sacred
Ibis Hadedah
Kingfisher Malachite
Kite Yellow-billed
Lapwing Blacksmith
Lapwing Crowned
Lark Red-capped
Lark Red-naped
Longclaw Yellow-throated
Marsh-Harrier African
Martin Brown-throated
Moorhen Common
Mousebird, Speckled
Myna Common
Neddicky
Night -Heron Black-crowned
Ostrich Common
Palm-Swift African
Palm-Swift African
Pipit African
Plover Common Ringed
Plover Kitlitz
Plover Three-banded
Pochard Southern
Robin-Chat Cape
Ruff

Rush-Warbler Little
Sandpiper C urlew
Sandpiper Wood
Sparrow Cape
Spurfowl Red-necked
Starling Red-winged
Stint Little
Stonechat African
Sunbird White-bellied
Swallow Barn
Swallow Lesser-striped
Swamphen AfricanPurple
Swamp-Warbler Lesser
Swift African Black
Teal Hottentot
Teal Hottentot
Teal Red-billed
Wagtail Cape
Waxbill Common
Weaver Cape
Weaver Thick-billed
Weaver Village
Weaver Village
Weaver Yellow
Whydah Pin-tailed
Widowbird Fantailed
Widowbird Red-collared
Wood-Dove Emerald-spotted

 
  (All photos property of photographer)



Monday, 10 October 2016

Away-trip report - Umlalazi, Mtunzini: 10-14 October 2016

(Text: Hazel van Rooyen)

Attendees:    Doug & Angie Butcher, Stan & Val Culley, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Margaret Jones, Hazel Nevin, Vic & Kay Nielson, Sandy Olver, Irma Schmook, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Robin Eccles. Brief visit by Richard Johnstone
Total bird count: Umlalazi and environs: 85 species; Sappi Ponds: 44 species (see end)


Mangrove Kingfisher (photo:Doug Butcher)
Log cabins at Umlalazi (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Angie, Doug, Irma, Margaret relaxing on their verandah (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Arriving at Umlalazi a little too early to check in, we were allowed through the gates to go and have a look at the lagoon which was quiet and peaceful but not much bird activity.  Having checked in and unpacked, a decision was made to use our cabin for our evening braai and get-together as it had the most spacious verandah.  This decision served us well for the whole week and our evenings were filled with lively camaraderie and chat.  Before braaiing a couple of people fitted in a walk down to the mangroves where we were told a Mangrove Kingfisher had been seen earlier in the day and they were delighted and amazed to find it there.  We weren’t expecting it to still be in the area as they usually leave the mangroves in September to return to their breeding habitat in the estuarine forests of the Eastern Cape.  Little did we know then that it would be seen several times during the week by all members of our group and in different places, leading us to believe that there was definitely more than one.  How exciting!
Mangrove Kingfisher (Stan Culley)

The boardwalk walk itself through the mangroves is a delight with crabs and thousands of long white whelky-things living in the mud and becoming active when the tide begins to rise.  Also seen were a Scaley-throated Honeyguide, Black-eared Barbet and a Black-throated Wattle-eye.
Race for the top (photo: Hazel Nevin)
White-eared Barbet (photo: Doug Butcher)

Scaley-throated Honeyguide (photo: Stan Culley)


Early on Tuesday morning the group walked down to the lagoon.   On the way a Dark-backed Weaver flitted hither and thither in the acacias and an African Goshawk soared the skies

Dark-backed Weaver (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Half the party took the walk leading through forest vegetation towards the beach while a few took the mangrove walk along the edge of the lagoon where a lone Common Sandpiper perched on a small rock to get a better view of potential foodie items.  
Common Sandpiper (photo: Doug Butcher)

Returning to the cabins we had some breakfast, then everyone drove to the boat slip-way.  We were accompanied by Richard Johnstone from BirdLife Zululand in Richards Bay who knows the area well and acted as a guide.  He is also a butterfly expert and he presented Sandy with a wonderful poster he had created of his butterfly photographs.  An African Fish Eagle soared through the skies and a Pied Kingfisher hovered and dived, hovered and dived.  
A family of zebras sauntered casually up, pretending that the grass was much tastier where we were.  They seemed to enjoy our company but Don’t get too close – when they started play-fighting those legs looked powerful enough to break a few bones –  and they weren’t going to be ours!
Ah! (photo: Doug Butcher)


The zebras were very friendly (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Driving further along, we disturbed several Yellow-throated Longclaws foraging for insects and seeds in the pathway of the vehicles, which then perched a-top the bushes, chirping loudly as if shouting at us!  
Yellow-throated Longclaw (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Other birds seen on this drive were a Goliath Heron, Burchell’s Coucal, Common Waxbill, Black-collared Barbet, Common Ringed Plover and Common Greenshank  which shows the different habitats there are in this area.  In the afternoon we took a walk (again) along the mangrove boardwalk and the Mangrove Kingfisher was at his favourite pond once more.  What good luck.
Mangrove Kingfisher (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Common Greenshank (photo: Stan Culley)

Goliath Heron (photo: Hazel van Rooyen

Looking for the Green Barbet on a misty morning (photo: Hazel Nevin)

Photographers: Hazel Nevin & Doug Butcher (photo: Sandy Olver)
Wednesday found us driving up to the 3200 hectare Ongoye Forest which is the only place in South Africa where the Green Barbet survives (listed as vulnerable).  Although the number of 200-300 breeding pairs has not decreased recently, improved management of the forest is essential.  The weather just about held for us although the mist made visibility very poor.  However, we did get brief views of them flying across the road several times.  Other birds seen in the area were Forked & Square-tailed Drongos, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Dusky Indigobird and Speckled Mousebird.

When Richard was visiting he had spotted a Striped Kingfisher alongside the golf course in Mtunzini.  Bob and I were keen to see this little kingfisher so in the afternoon we drove there and did get sight of it and even noticed it flying into a hole in a tree.  Ah, maybe a nest?  Standing beneath it we could hear a lot of indignant squeeks and squawks coming from within, so we decided to leave mommy to get on with her job.   

Striped Kingfisher (photo: Stan Culley)

Striped Kingfisher (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Other birds on and around the golf course were Black-headed Heron, Cape Wagtail, Bronze Mannikins, Cape White-eye, Southern Black Flycatcher and Yellow Weaver and a Hamerkop.  
Moving along to the whale deck, the beach seemed clear but Stan managed to spot a Sanderling, White-fronted Plover and a Whimbrel.
Cricket fans - there's room here for one more (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

As the day drew on, the weather deteriorated – luckily for the cricket fans who sat glued to the TV!

Thursday started off with photographing a beautiful tree outside Sandy's cabin – Craibia zimmermannii, a sand forest special not usually found south of Richards Bay.  The common name is Sand Peawood.  It was covered in lovely white blossoms, which brightened the gloomy morning.
Crabia zimmermannia (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Val Culley (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

We had had some rain during the night which brought out Val’s inner child!













This morning’s walk took us up through the back of the camp site through woodland to the beach road.  Birds chirped out of sight in the tree canopy but we only identified a Chinspot Batis darting about in the thorny shrubs.  The ladies decided to take the road left, whilst the gents walked the other way – typical!  We enjoyed strolling along with Sandy identifying many of the delightful flowering  shrubs. 
Sandy Olver - how far is the estuary? (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Eventually a pathway took us over the dunes to the beach and we sauntered down to the breaking waves where White-fronted Plovers were scampering about at the tide-line. 


White-fronted Plover (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Discovering more trails leading in different directions it was tempting to take them but as we didn’t know the distance we took a pathway which we presumed would lead us back to the lagoon.  Fortunately we were correct because we got a call to say the Mangrove Kingfisher was back at its favourite spot so we rushed along and got there in time to take some more shots before it once again melted into the mangroves.

In the afternoon we drove by  the lagoon again.  A troop of vervet monkeys were having a snack from a wild cotton tree. And along the edge of the mangroves we saw the Mangrove Kingfisher several more times.

Vervet Monkeys (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)


Later on we tried the beach again as some of our group had seen the Palm-nut Vulture there, catching crabs.  This time we were lucky.  A Yellow-billed Kite was trying to steal its meal which we guessed, on close inspection, had once been a domestic chicken.
Hazel (photo: Doug Butcher)


Palm-nut Vulture looking for crabs (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
The meal (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Yellow-billed Kite trying to steal the Palm-nut Vulture's meal (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Looking for waders (photo: Doug Butcher)

Watching the Palm-nut Vulture from the whale deck (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Sadly the following day was time for us to pack up and go home – but not before we had paid our usual visit when in this area to the Sappi Bird Hide at Stanger.  We said goodbye to the Red Duiker family that had foraged around our cabins all week, the baby delighting us with its joyous scamperings.


Red Duiker (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

The weather was a bit doubtful but these intrepid birders thought we would take a chance anyway.  Arriving in convoy, Val and Stan went through a deep puddle, Sandy thought better of it, but Bobby and I went through followed by Vic & Kay who I thought were going to disappear forever.  Even a massive truck in front of us was doing a u-turn as there was an even deeper puddle further on, so we decided to follow suit and all turned around, with Vic & Kay braving it once again.  Luckily Bobby knew another approach on a tar road and at reception we doubled up in the high clearance vehicles which was a good decision as the dirt road to the hide was deep in churned up mud.  Once there we were thrilled with the abundance of waders – White-faced Ducks, Cape, Hottentot, and Red-billed Teals, Wood and Marsh Sandpipers, Lesser-striped Swallow, Cape Shoveler, Ruff.  
Red-billed Teal (photo: Stan Culley)

Ruff (photo: Stan Culley)

Hottentot Teal & Little Stint (photo: Stan Culley)

Lesser-striped Swallow bearing food for chicks (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)

Cape Shovellers head-pumping in courtship ritual (photo: Hazel van Rooyen)
Little Stint (photo: Stan Culley)


Thankyou to everyone for a lovely time and our experts for sharing their extensive knowledge.  What a lovely crowd!


(All photographs property of photographer)


Umlalazi, Mtunzini

Barbet Black-collared
Barbet Green
Barbet White-eared
Batis Chinspot
Bishop Southern Red
Bulbul Dark-capped
Bush-Shrike Gorgeous
Cameroptera Green-backed
Canary Yellow-fronted
Cormorant
Cormorant White-breasted
Coucal Burchell’s
Crow Black
Cuckoo Emerald
Cuckoo Klaas’s
Cuckoo Red-chested
Dove Red-eyed
Drongo Fork-tailed
Drongo Square-tailed
Eagle African Fish
Eagle Long-crested
Egret Cattle
Egret Little
Finfoot African
Fiscal Common
Flycatcher Paradise
Flycatcher Southern Black
Goose Egyptian
Goshawk African
Greenbul Sombre
Greenbul Yellow-bellied
Greenshank Common
Gull Grey-headed
Hamerkop
Heron Black-headed
Heron Goliath
Honeyguide Scaley-throated
Hornbill Trumpeter
Ibis Hadedah
Ibis Sacred
Indigobird Dusky
Kingfisher Brown-hooded
Kingfisher Mangrove
Kingfisher Pied
Kingfisher Striped
Kite Yellow-billed



Lapwing Blacksmith
Longclaw Yellow-throated
Mannikin Bronze
Martin Brown-throated
Martin House
Mousebird Speckled
Oriole Black-headed
Plover 3-banded
Plover Common Ringed
Plover White-fronted
Prinia Tawny-flanked
Puffback Black-backed
Ruff
Sanderling
Sandpiper Common
Sandpiper Terek
Sparrow House
Starling Black-bellied
Stint Little
Stork Woolly-necked
Sunbird Amethyst
Sunbird Collared
Sunbird Olive
Swallow Barn
Swift White-rumped
Teal Red-billed
Tern Caspian
Tinkerbird Yellow-rumped
Turaco Purple Crested
Wagtail Cape
Wattle-eye Black-throated
Waxbill Common
Weaver Dark-backed
Weaver Southern Masked
Weaver Yellow
Whimbrel Common
White-eye Cape
Widowbird Red-collared
Woodpecker Golden-tailed  
85

Sappi Hide

Bishop Southern Red
Bulbul Dark-capped
Cameroptera Green-backed
Cormorant White-breasted
Coucal Burchell’s
Darter
Dove Red-eyed
Duck White-faced
Duck Yellow-billed
Goose Egyptian
Grebe Little
Heron Grey
Heron Squacco
Ibis Glossy
Ibis Hadedah
Jacana African
Kingfisher Pied
Lapwing Blacksmith
Martin Brown-throated
Moorhen Common
Mousebird Speckled
Myna Common
Plover Common Ringed
Pochard Southern
Prinia Tawny-flanked
Ruff
Sandpiper Marsh
Sandpiper Wood
Shoveller Cape
Stilt Black-winged
Stint Little
Swallow Barn
Swallow Lesser-striped
Swamphen Purple
Teal Cape
Teal Hottentot
Teal Red-billed
Tern Whiskered
Wagtail Pied
Warbler Lesser Swamp
Warbler Little Rush
Weaver Spectacled
Weaver Thick-billed
44