Sunday, 26 February 2017

Outing report - Mpenjati Conservancy, 26 February 2017

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley,  Doug & Angie Butcher, Graham & Sue Salthouse, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Clive & Margie Cowan, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Louis & Pat Fourie, Robin Eccles & Hanli Kloppers, Russell & Lorna Johnson, Michelle Pearson (19)
Bird count: 24 (see end)

Today was a different bird count from our previous two outings last July and the January prior.  In fact number-wise it was quite disappointing, the weather was not very conducive, being windy and overcast.  However, a Cotillion of Terns and Flight of Swallows kept our group of 19 folks quite entertained and the grey morning turned into a beautiful late summer day which was enjoyed by everyone.
A Cotillion of Terns (photo Doug Butcher)
Pied Kingfisher (photo Michelle Pearson)
Parking close to the beach on the South side of the reserve, we watched as Woolly-necked Storks circled lazily over the estuary.  A Pied Kingfisher sat sentry-like on its perch , occasionally taking flight, hovering and diving spectacularly.  Roberts mentions that it is often cited as the world’s largest bird capable of sustained hovering in still air.  A Common Sandpiper, tail bobbing, gleaned along the river-edge for tasty morsels.
Common Sandpiper (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Kelp Gull (photo Hazel van Rooyen
Cape Wagtail (photo Doug Butcher)
On the beach close to the breaking waves, a group of Swift and Sandwich Terns huddled together.  A lone Kelp Gull didn’t approve of our scrutiny and took flight at our approach to be joined by its mate further along.  Three tiny White-fronted Plovers darted up and down the tideline – how do their little legs move so fast!  Further out at sea Cape Gannets skimmed the breakers.  Michelle pointed out that this is an unusual sight so early in the year.
White-fronted Plover (photo Michelle Pearson)

White-fronted Plovers (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
There were no signs of birds through the dune forest and even the grassland was devoid of the usual seed-eaters flitting about.  High in the sky a Yellow-billed Kite put in a desultory appearance and a Red-eyed Dove sat fat and drowsy in a tree-top.  A sad sight was the hide lying abandoned outside the offices.  Marina Beach Conservancy had erected it at Marina Lagoon and it had proved excellent for bird viewing until it was removed because of complaints by residents across the river concerned about their privacy,
Crowned Eagle (photo Michelle Pearson)
Having walked up an appetite, we made ourselves comfortable for breakfast on the river bank where a Crowned Eagle being harassed by Hadedah Ibis provided a bit of excitement.   
Tucking into breakfast (photo Doug Butcher)

After this we moved to the North side of the reserve to see if we would have some luck there but after a stroll to the beach and through the forest no further species could be added to our day’s list.  Some people, having other commitments, left at this point while others stayed to enjoy the lovely braai.
Terns waiting for the Tide with backdrop of Mpenjati dune forest (photo Hazel van Rooyen

Boubou, Southern
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Dove, Red-eyed
Duck, Yellow-billed
Eagle, Crowned
Falcon, Lanner
Gannet, Cape
Goose, Egyptian

Greenbul, Sombre
Gull, Kelp
Ibis, Hadeda
Kingfisher, Pied
Kite, Yellow-billed
Plover, White-fronted
Sandpiper, Common
Stork, Woolly-necked

Sunbird, Amethyst
Swallow, White-throated
Swift, Little
Tern, Sandwich
Tern, Swift
Tinkerbird, Yellow-rumped
Wagtail, Cape
Wagtail, Pied

Photos property of photographers

Sunday, 19 February 2017

UPCOMING OUTING: Mpenjati Nature Reserve, 26 February 2017

Pied Kingfisher
Sunday 26 February at 07h00 BirdLife Trogons will visit Mpenjati Nature Reserve Nature Reserve.  Bring chairs, breakfast and something to braai for lunch.  ALL WELCOME.  There is a R20pp charge for non-members of BirdLife Trogons.  Outings may be cancelled due to the weather.  Check or phone Hazel (072 355 8837*) before setting off.
*Please note we cannot respond to text or "call me" requests.
Directions: From the R61 meet at the Mpenjati South entrance gate. There is a R30 per person entrance fee, however this is negated if you have a Rhino Card.  Set GPS to DD MM SS.S  =  S30 58 18.2  E30 16 39.3

Kind regards
Hazel van Rooyen

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Outing report: Sezela Sugar Mill, 12 February 2017

 Text: Sue Hansbury
Sue Salthouse, Graham Salthouse, Stanley Gengan, Asothie Gengan, Sandy Olver, Hazel Nevin, Sue Hansbury, Barrie Willis, Alastair Warman

Species: 62 

The day started off overcast, and was lovely and cool to begin with.  Alastair took us a different route than last time, and led us meandering through the sugar cane fields to Ash Dam where we wandered around looking at all the grass birds.  Eventually the clouds dispersed and the sun came out as we walked around Clear Water Dam before departing to find a cool spot in the shade for breakfast.

After breakfast we had a short stroll along the stream, the temperature was now reaching 30ยบ, and we were getting a little hot under the collar. On the way to the lunch spot we stopped at the lagoon to see what birds we could see there, but it was so over grown, it was quite a disappointment compared to last time we were there. 

It was decided to try our luck and go past Conrad’s house as he told us that he had seen a Sooty Falcon, but luck was not on our side and unfortunately we did not get a sighting of it.

Alastair had the key to the boom this time so we found a beautiful shady spot for our lunch, we parked the cars and went for a stroll around the Dam.  Things got quite exciting when we thought we saw a rare bird in the trees, but after looking through the bird books we came to the conclusion that it was most probably a Rosy Faced Lovebird (obviously an escapee).

The braai was lit, and the beers came out, so we settled ourselves down for some light hearted conversation and had a wonderful lunch at a beautiful unspoilt spot on the South Coast.

Thank you Alastair for showing us around. 

Species seen:
Barbet Black-collared
Bee-eater Little
Bishop Southern Red
Bulbul Dark-capped
Cameroptera Green-backed
Canary Yellow-fronted
Cisticola Rufous-winged
Cormorant Reed
Cormorant White-breasted
Coucal Burchell’s
Crake Black
Crane Crowned
Cuckoo Diderik
Dove Red-eyed
Drongo Square-tailed
Eagle Long-crested
Fiscal Common
Flycatcher Southern Black
Goose Egyptian
Goose Spurwinged
Grebe Little
Greenbul Sombre

Guineafowl Helmeted
Hadedah Ibis
Heron Black-headed
Hornbill Crowned
Kingfisher Malachite
Kingfisher Pied
Kite Yellow-billed
Lapwing Blacksmith
Mannikin Bronze
Moorhen Common
Mousebird Speckled
Myna Common
Oriole Black-headed
Prinia Tawny-flanked
Saw-wing Black
Seedeater Streaky-headed
Spurfowl Natal
Starling Black-bellied
Starling Red-winged
Starling Violet-backed
Stonechat African

Stork Woolly-necked
Sunbird Olive
Swallow Barn
Swallow Lesser-striped
Tinkerbird Yellow-rumped
Turaco Purple-crested
Wagtail Cape
Wagtail Mountain
Warbler Lesser Swamp
Warbler Little Rush
Warbler Willow
Waxbill Common
Weaver Spectacled
Weaver Village
Weaver Yellow
White-eye Cape
Whydah Pin-tailed
Widowbird Fan-tailed
Woodpecker Golden-tailed


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Trogons Outing Report: Culley Dam & Gaze Farm, 22 January 2017

Attendees: Stan & Val Culley (hosts),  Doug & Angie Butcher, Clive & Margie Cowan,  Robin Eccles & Hanli Kloppers, Mr & Pat Fourie, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Margaret Jones, Eric Kok, B McDonald, Vaughan & Jenny Merryk, Hazel Nevin, Irma Smook, Joey van Niekerk, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen, Alastair Warman, Barrie Willis & Sue Hansbury (25)
Species recorded:52

Culley Dam proved its popularity yet again with an excellent turn-out of 25 people.

On arrival, half our number couldn’t wait to get down to the dam, whilst the more energetic tackled the hike up the hill, to be rewarded by the magnificent view of the Umthamvuna Estuary with the sparkling sea as a back-drop.  Some birds seen on the way up were Crowned Hornbill, Green Wood-hoopoe, Black Saw-wing and Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird.

At the dam Stan was showing everyone the additional wetland he had created over the last few months and the excellent new hide he had built, facing the original one.  
Stan's new hide (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
Yellow-billed and White-faced Ducks graced the dams which were now swollen with the recent rains.  Thick-billed Weavers busied themselves building their neat nests in between two bull-rushes and Village Weavers flitted amongst the long grass.
Yellow-billed Ducks (photo Hazel van Rooyen)
In the meantime the hill walkers were examining the dam on the hill-top which revealed Grey and Black-headed Herons, Yellow-billed Ducks and an African Jacana which was treading elegantly over the lily-pads foraging for insects.  Returning down the mountain-side Yellow-throated Longclaw, Southern Black Flycatcher and Black-backed Puffback were spotted.

Black-headed Heron (photo hazel van Rooyen)

Arriving at Culley Dam a Malachite Kingfisher flashed back and forth across the water – a turquoise and orange jewel catching the eye.  A Purple Heron drifted gracefully in and a Little Bittern lifted up out of the reeds, only to disappear back down as if it had never been there.  And all was once again peaceful.

Except of course, back at the house where we enjoyed a sociable braai.  On the veranda we were accompanied by Mrs Amethyst Sunbird who was incubating her eggs in the nest built on the chain of the light fitting.
Amethyst Sunbird (photo Hazel Nevin)
Many thanks to Stan & Val for a good day enjoyed by all.

Bird Count:52

Bittern Little
Bulbul Dark-capped
Buzzard Steppe (Common)
Cameroptera Green-backed
Canary Yellow-fronted
Cormorant Reed
Dove Red-eyed
Dove Tambourine
Drongo Fork-tailed
Duck White-faced
Duck Yellow-billed
Fiscal Common
Flycatcher Southern Black
Goose Egyptian
Goose Spurwinged
Greenbul Sombre
Guineafowl Helmeted
Heron Black-headed
Heron Grey
Heron Purple
Hornbill Crowned
Ibis Hadedah
Jacana African
Kingfisher Malachite
Kingfisher Giant
Kite Yellow-billed

Longclaw Yellow-throated
Mannikin Bronze
Mousebird Speckled
Oriole Black-headed
Puffback Black-backed
Saw-wing Black
Sparrow Grey-headed
Spurfowl Natal
Starling Black-bellied
Starling Red-wing
Stork Woolly-necked
Sunbird Amethyst
Sunbird Olive
Swallow Barn
Swallow Lesser Striped
Swallow White-throated
Swift White-rumped
Tinkerbird Yellow-rumped
Wagtail Cape
Weaver Thick-billed
Weaver Village
Weaver Yellow
Widowbird Fantailed
White-eye Cape
Whydah Pin-tailed
Wood-Hoopoe Green

All photos property of photographer