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

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