Sugarloaf campsite in St Lucia was not too busy. School holidays had ended. There was water rationing in St Lucia which meant that one day we had no tapped water but the rest all day. Water bottles were laid out at each of the ablutions blocks. Power cuts were from 5 to 6 pm several nights – yes only one hour.
We spent a morning in each of the two parts of the Isimangaliso Wetland Park – Eastern and Western Shores. And one morning in the Gwalagwala trail. Time was spent on the beach too, though the gulls and terns were mostly down the coast chasing the sardines. No Franklin’s Gull!
The weather was mostly kind to us and we did have rain on several nights which helped to bring out the birds the following mornings.
In all we identified 63 birds in Eastern Shores, 64 birds in Western Shores and 82 birds in and around the campsite, Gwalagwala trail and on the beach. In total 125 different bird species were identified. Click here to see the lists.
Here are some photos of the birds seen.
And a few butterflies and mystery Cisticolas for ID.
We had a lovely sunny day for our outing to Simbithi on Sunday the 19th July
Eighteen birders came including two environmental ladies from Simbithi. Margi Lilianveld organised all our security codes so that we could get through the security. Many thanks to her.
We drove down to the Fish Eagle dam and met up with Elayne Tranter who was the other environmental lady. We decided to do the Mfuleni Trail and split into two groups, the one doing the trail clockwise and the other anti clockwise.
Birding around the Fish Eagle dam was rewarding with Village Weavers very busy building their nests and collecting nesting material. We saw the Goliath, Black-headed, Grey and Purple Herons, the Common Moorhen, Burchell’s Coucal, the White-eared Barbet and lovely views of the Malachite Kingfisher.
Birding along the pathway was quiet as it was still in shade but as we reached the beginning of the pathway into the forest the sun was shining and the birds were all there. We had wonderful sightings of the Red-fronted Tinker Bird, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Olive Sunbird, Black Cuckooshrike and a very fast flyby of the Grey Waxbill.
The mature riverine forest growing along the stream was beautiful with many trees over 100 years old. A lot of the trees were named and along the path a camera had been placed to capture the night animals. Sunbirds were plentiful and we saw Amethyst, Collard, Grey, Olive and Purple-banded Sunbirds. The Black-collard Barbets, Crested Barbets, Sombre Greenbul and Yellow-bellied Greenbul were calling and we had a quick fly past of the Tambourine Dove.
When we reached the other side of the Fish Eagle dam there were a lot of Bronze Mannikins and we saw two nests and then another three built under the eaves of a house – just like the swallows do. It had us all fascinated.
In the open grassland area we heard the Neddicky and saw the Lesser-striped Swallow – that was a surprise, White-rumped Swift, Little Swift and African Palm Swift. Walking alongside the dam we saw the Black-throated Wattle-eye, lovely sightings as the bird sat still for quite a while.
In the next patch of grasslands we saw the Yellow-fronted Canaries and the Dusky Flycatcher. The next part of riverine forest we saw a lot of orchards growing on the trees but unfortunately they were not flowering.
We met up with our other group there and they had seen an African Crake at the Heron Dam. Elena was delighted as it was a lifer for her.
We eventually reached the dam but the African Crake had disappeared but we did see the White-throated Swallow, Little Rush Warbler, Spur-winged Goose and heard the Fish Eagle calling.
On the way back to the Fish Eagle dam we heard Yellow-breasted Apalis and saw a Kurrichane Thrush. We had tea at the Fish Eagle Community Centre, very civilized with table and chairs provided and whilst having tea we saw the Red-capped Robin Chat, two sparrow species, the Yellow-rumped Tinker Bird and another good sighting of the Purple-banded Sunbird.
We managed to see 78 birds altogether which is not too bad for a winters birding. The bird of the day – African Crake.
Photos courtesy of Decklan Jordaan and Dave Rimmer.