Sunday, 10 September 2017

Outing report - Beacon Hill, Umtamvuna Nature Reserve - 10 September 2017

Birds identified: 41 species                                                           Text: Hazel van Rooyen
Attendees: Stan & Val Culley, Stanley & Asothie Gengan, Graham & Sue Salthouse, Danie & Bella du Toit, Doug & Angie Butcher, Margaret Jones, Rob Eccles & Hanlie Kloppers, Louis & Pat Fourie, Bob & Hazel van Rooyen

Mocking Cliff Chat (HvR)

After a week of lovely sunshine and clear skies, Sunday dawned overcast but it was quite pleasant for walking and stayed dry until after our braai when it started to mizzle just as we were leaving.  The flowers were lovely as usual, with some different species flowering at their peak from our last visit, although not at their most sparkly in the misty atmosphere.  The Burchellia bubalina (Wild Pomegranate) shrubs around the picnic sight were just coming into flower.
Burchellia bulbina (HvR)
Lazy Cisticola (HvR)

Members setting out (HvR)

Through the flowers (HvR)

On arrival, Amethyst and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds were very active in the Strelitzias and a female Mocking Cliff Chat guarded her territory on the rocky outcrop.  A Lazy Cisticola was also very vocal amongst the rocks.

Berkheya speciosa (HvR)
Ox-eye Daisy (HvR)
Our first walk produced plenty of Bronze Mannikins, African Stonechats, Fan-tailed and Red-collared Widowbirds.  We also disturbed Yellow-throated Longclaws amongst the grassland.  A Burchell’s Coucal called in the distance.  At the bottom of the field half our group returned via the main path seeing Black-bellied Starling, Black-collared Barbet and Black Saw-wing. The other half took the stepping stones over the brook and up the other side, hoping we didn’t encounter a Black Mamba seen on a previous occasion.  Up here we saw quite a few Cape Canaries and after following the gorge for a while, we returned via the same route.
Eriosema umthamvunens (Brown Bonnets) (HvR)

Helichrysum & Aster (HvR)

Scilla (HvR)

Cape Canary (HvR)

At the picnic site everyone was keen to tell me the Gurney’s Sugarbird had been seen but had now flown off.  However, as soon as I sat down for coffee a loud yell from Stan told me it had returned and eventually I managed to get a photo.
Gurney's Sugarbird (Stan Culley)
Gurney's Sugarbird

After breakfast our meanderings took us down the other side of the valley and here some flowers were a little more advanced. 
Another breath-taking view (Stan Culley)

Red-collared Widowbird (Stan Culley)

Red-collared Widowbird (HvR)
More widowbirds were in evidence, perching on the odd dead stick still standing from last summer.  Spurwing Geese and Crowned Hornbills flew overhead and someone heard a Crowned Eagle
How much further! (HvR)

Oribi (HvR)

We surprised some Oribi buck in the longer grass which sprinted out of sight.  On reaching a steep path tumbling down the gorge we decided we should retrace our steps and we plodded back up the hillside.

Stan had stayed at the picnic site and seen African Green Pigeon, African Palm Swift, Lesser Honeyguide and Yellow-fronted Canary.  
African Green-Pigeon (Stan Culley)

General opinions were that the flowers were better than our previous visit, although had the sun been shining the helichrysums would have opened up.  Everyone enjoyed the morning’s birding and we finished up with a braai as usual.

Barbet, Black-collared
Bulbul, Dark-capped
Canary, Brimstone
Canary, Cape
Canary, Yellow-fronted
Chat, Mocking Cliff
Cisticola, Croaking
Cisticola, Lazy
Coucall, Burchell’s
Dove, Cape  Turtle
Dove, Red-eyed Dove
Drongo, Fork-tailed
Eagle, African Crowned
Goose, Egyptian

Goose, Spurwing
Honeyguide, Lesser
Hornbill, Crowned
Hornbill, Trumpeter 
Longclaw, Yellow-throated
Mannikin, Bronze
Oriole, Black-headed
Pigeon, African Green
Raven, White-necked
Saw-wing, Black
Seed-eater, Streaky-headed
Spurfowl, Natal
Starling, Black-bellied

Stonechat, African
Sugarbird, Gurney’s
Sunbird, Amethyst
Sunbird, Greater Double-collared
Sunbird, Olive
Swallow, Lesser-striped
Swift, African Palm
Waxbill, Swee
Weaver, Cape
Weaver, Spectacled
White-eye, Cape
Widowbird, Fan-tailed
Widowbird, Red-collared

Photos property of photographer

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