Eastern and Western Shores, Isimangaliso Wetland Park
Report by Paul and Sally Bartho
On entering the Park very early on a chilly morning, we were greeted by the sun rising on our right. Not to be outdone the moon was setting on our left.
The sunrise had a glowing golden affect on some of the early birds we saw and photographed.
The park is in drought – none of the pans has any water – not in the Pan Loop, Vlei Loop nor at the Bird Hides. As a result the birding and views of animals was fairly disappointing. The water level of Lake St. Lucia appeared to be similar to the level when we visited last November.
Some of the specials we identified included: Fiscal Flycatcher, Brown Scrub-Robin, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Livingstone’s Turaco, Rudd’s Apalis, Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Saddle-billed Stork, Goliath Heron and Olive Bushshrike.
Again we entered Western Shores as the gate opened and stayed for the full morning – driving all the roads in the park.
Like the Eastern Shores there was no water in any of the pans so waterbirds were only seen at the Lookout point over Lake St. Lucia. And those that we saw were limited to a few residents.
Driving along the Loop Road we came across Lemon-breasted Canaries at the Lookout point. This was close to where we had seen them on our previous visit. And further along at the edge of one of the thickets we saw four or five Tambourine Doves eating together on the ground.
We did flush a Buttonquail along the road which we suspect was a Common Buttonquail based on its size and pale appearance as it flew away from us – but we cannot be certain.
A number of Fiscal Flycatchers were seen and we also identified a few other specials: Livingstone’s Turaco, Striped Kingfishers, Black-chested Snake-Eagles were seen flying overhead and Orange-breasted and Gorgeous Bushshrikes were heard.
On the eastern loop to the Lake St. Lucia boardwalk and viewing platform we circled an almost dry pan. In it were three Saddle-billed Storks – one a juvenile. Also present were Pied Crows and a juvenile African Fish-Eagle in its deceptive plumage. And in the trees close-by was a good looking Martial Eagle.
At the Platform at the top of the boardwalk a pair of Rudd’s Apalises were calling and showing themselves. Always very nice to see well.
Again like Eastern Shores birding in the park was uninspiring.
Our next day’s birding was at Umfolozi. See Part Three of this series.