St. Kitts

Saturday 11 April 2015

Roy Cowgill, Steve Davis and I visited St. Kitts – a private farm inland from Amatikulu on the North KZN Coast.

The sugar cane farm has a number of dams which we birded. Waterbirds included numerous African Purple Swamphens, Common Moorhens and Spur-winged Geese.

African Purple Swamphen
African Purple Swamphen

Black Crakes, Yellow-billed and White-faced Ducks, White-breasted Cormorants – nesting, Reed Cormorants, Little Grebe, African Darter, Hamerkop, Hadeda Ibis, Malachite Kingfisher, Egyptian Geese, African Jacanas and their young were among the many waterbirds we found.

A juvenile African Fish-Eagle flew overhead and another, an adult, was seen perched overlooking the main dam.

Juvenile African Fish-Eagle
Juvenile African Fish-Eagle

The main dam at St. Kitts seems to be a reliable spot to find two special species -White-backed Ducks (we saw 12) and African Pygmy Geese.

The other two large dams were by comparison very quiet – the odd Common Moorhen and Reed Cormorant and several Blacksmith Lapwings. A Giant Kingfisher (male) also made an appearance as well as a Diderick Cuckoo.

Unusually there was only one Heron – a Grey – and no waders and no Pied Kingfishers. In all 57 bird species were identified. A full bird list can be viewed – click here.

Butterflies and Dragonflies were everywhere and Steve and Roy made a list of them which can also be seen by clicking here.

One of the highlights was a rather large reptile which I had heard about but never seen there.

Paul Bartho

Darvill, Near Pietermaritzburg

Tuesday 21 April

Sally and I went to see if we could find the Lesser Jacana which had been seen there recently. It was a pleasant day with a light breeze and we arrived midday.

Dam 4 was the place to go so we headed there. There we found a family from Port Shepstone – Barry, Sue and  Cameron. They had arrived an hour earlier and so far had not found the bird.

We searched all the way round the dam – bundu bashing at times as the pathways between the dams was well overgrown. Despite an extensive search we eventually left at 15h00 empty handed.

However there was plenty of bird life on dams 3 and 4 that have shallow banks which the birds seem to prefer. Little Grebes, Egyptian and Spur-winged Geese and African Sacred Ibis were present in large numbers. Numerous African Jacanas were seen all round the edges of the dams too.

Other birds seen were Common Moorhens, Black Crakes, Red-billed, Hottentot and Cape Teals, Cape Shovellors, Southern Pochard and South African Shelduck. Two Wood Sandpipers were seen as well as several Three-banded Plovers and Cape Wagtails but no other waders – all gone.

An African Fish-Eagle made an appearance and had all the birds off the water and into the air. An African Marsh Harrier also quartered the dams.

We left a wee disappointed in not finding the Lesser Jacana but enjoyed the day none-the-less.

Paul & Sally Bartho

Sheffield Beach Outing

Report by Mike White

There were 20 of us for the Sheffield Beach outing on 18 April 2015.

The weather was good as it gets. We were rewarded with some good sightings around the old crocodile farm ponds (no crocodiles fortunately) as well as on the road which cuts through part of the indigenous swamp forest.

A grateful vote of thanks was given to the owners Ian and Sandra McMurchie.

In all 67 different species of  birds were seen and or heard. Click here to view the list.

Mike White

Here are some photos taken on the day:

After the outing Paul and Sally decided to see what was happening at the SAPPI Bird hide.

It was relatively quiet with most of the waders having left. However there was a group of Little Stints in front of the hide but the island was mostly harbouring Egyptian and Spur-winged Geese, White-faced Ducks, Little Grebe, Black-winged Stilts and White-breasted Cormorants nesting.

On a walk around the area a Leguaan made an appearance.

Two Ruff were also seen and seem to be starting to change into breeding plumage – rather late in leaving we thought.

A pair of Grey-crowned Cranes arrived to add some variety to the usuals.

Palmiet NR

With Mike Roseblade and Jane Morris

Sunday 12 April 2015

Beautiful sunny weather brought out the birds in Palmiet Nature Reserve when a group from Westville Conservancy were joined by some BLPN members to spend 3 hours of good birding along the river.

The group split into 2 led by Mike and Jane and recorded a total of 48 species. Click here to see the  bird list.

Good birds seen included Black Sparrowhawk, Grey Waxbill, Lemon Dove and Mountain Wagtail.

This is about the average count we also encounter on the Westville Trail. However no Magpie Mannikins until we retired to Jane and Mike’s garden where all 3 Manniken species were active.

Magpie Mannikin
Magpie Mannikin

Mike Roseblade

Paradise Valley with Elena Russell

IMG_3644Saturday 4th April 2015

We had a good turnout of members and visitors about 20 in all.

Unfortunately the weather was not too good, rather dull and overcast. Paradise Valley is mainly forest birding plus a rather nice walk alongside the river.

At least two or three pairs of Mountain Wagtails were seen, a couple of bird parties were encountered but a lot of birding was done on call!

Our total bird count was 41.

Some members were a little restless at times and mention was made of reaching the sea via the Umbilo Ponds and hopefully there would be a shebeen or two along the way (how the shebeen got into the mix I am not too sure) but the walk was very pleasant and the waterfall too beautiful.

By the time we returned to the picnic area for tea the weather had improved and “The Saturday Chat Show” was in fine form over tea. Mark was toasting Hot Cross Buns (superb) and the bird list was completed with only a few alphabetical faux pas!!

Moths, Butterflies, Spiders and Crabs were also seen and photgraphed for ID. As well as a few other birds we were lucky enough to snap.

Thanks to Paul and John for the pics.