Hilton College NR Sunday 20 July 2014

Two degrees Centigrade at 07h00 at the Hilton College gate did not augur well for a good day’s birding. However the sky was clear and the sun would come out. At the end, the birding was much better than expected.

Four of us descended to the river in one vehicle – Penny de Vries, Cheryl King, Sally and Paul Bartho. Heater full on but with windows open. The four kilometre descent was taken slowly – birding all the way.

Probably one of the better sightings all day was the Red-throated Wryneck at the entrance to the picnic area where numerous birds held our attention before we eventually arrived there.

Red-throated Wryneck
Red-throated Wryneck

At the picnic site a cup of tea/coffee was in order. By this time the sun was warming us up and Sri Lanka were 130 something for 5. The picnic site is right by the river with a number of different species flying up and down as we supped our hot beverages.

The following photos give you an idea of the scenery, the river trail, Finfoot Hide and the picnic site:

Then we set off following the river upstream along a well-maintained trail. African Firefinch were heard then seen followed by Common Waxbills, Golden-breasted Bunting with Trumpeter Hornbills flying overhead. Of course we kept an eye on the river in hope of seeing an African Finfoot and/or African Black Duck.

Trumpeter Hornbill
Trumpeter Hornbill

Just before we reached the Finfoot Hide we were held up for about half an hour by a bird party consisting of Yellow-throated Woodland-Warblers, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis and this unidentified species which eluded all our attempts to get a great sighting. Full grey head to just below the eye, white throat, greeny-yellow stomach and green back. Anyone got any ideas? If so please let us know. The closest we came to identifying the bird was that it could be a Bar-throated Apalis without the bar or an Eremomela way out of range.

The Finfoot hide overlooks a small patch of the river but nothing special was observed there at that time.

On we clambered along the path by the river keeping our eyes out for a Bushveld Pipit which had been seen previously – no luck. More African Firefinches were seen and Lazy Cisticola heard and seen. Then we came across a pair of Swee Waxbills which, caught in the sunshine, radiantly showed off their colours.

Eventually we came to the end of the trail at Geni’s Junction – another large open area well treed. Here a number of Robins got our attention but only the Cossypha natalensis was positively identified.

The return journey was made in quick time – it was late in the morning and there was  not much to grab our attention.

We made a quick detour to visit to the hide as we passed – very fortunate timing as there were two African Black Ducks swiftly swimming up-river. And further along another three were seen flying down-river.

African Black Duck
African Black Duck

While having a bite to eat by the river at the picnic site a Burchell’s Coucal made a brief appearance.

Then on the drive back up the hill a Black-crowned Tchagra sat quietly in a tree close-by giving us excellent views. And an African Fish-Eagle gave us an overpass as we reached the top – the only raptor we had seen all morning.

By the time we reached the top we had a bird list of 60 seen and/or heard. Click here to see the bird list.

This is a great venue and worth visiting in the summer when the migrants return.

Paul Bartho




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s