Sunday 19th July 2020
Sally has been keeping her eye on places we could visit close by to do some birding. Mount Park caught her eye as a place of indigenous mistbelt forest, climbing up the Inhlosane Mountain between Dargle and Boston, KZN. It is on the district road 132. There are kilometres of trails through the forest following streams up to the peak. Day visitors are welcome there. Do contact to advise you are coming. Tel: 033 234 4601.
So on Sunday we headed there. It took us about 45 minutes from Howick. On the way we were disturbed by a balloon.
We arrived at 08h30, signed in and did all the Covid-19 protocols then headed into the forest.
Almost immediately we saw Olive Thrushes on the path ahead and a really gorgeous female Cape Batis close by. As it is with forest birding it is all about ears to recognise the birds calling and then good fortune to spot them.
We headed up to the top of the forest and returned by a different route. Once started, it is all up from there. Sometimes steeply so.
It took us over two and a half hours to bird our way out to the top of the forest. From there it is possible to continue to the top of the cliff face. However as we had ordered lunch for 13h00 we headed back down after climbing out of the top of the forest.
On the way up we took a wrong turning towards the source of the Water Mill. A dead end side trail. It was our good fortune. As we reached the end we noticed first a fluttering in the trees and saw a Bush Blackcap. Almost immediately there was also an Olive Woodpecker and a White-starred Robin to see.
The last part of the climb to the top was quite testing – not only tired from the climb so far but also the higher we got so the ground seemed to get much steeper and in parts quite slippery. Eventually we made it out of the woods and found a place to rest with a view over the forest and down the distant valley below.
Looking up, we could see people standing on top of the cliff faces above us but we had little intention of going up any further.
As we sat there we noticed movement in the trees in front of us – a Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler – so our quest to exit the top of the forest was well worth it.
The alternative way back down proved a lot easier on the old calves and thighs, so we got back down in good time. At the bottom there is a bird cage with Budgerigars, Lovebirds, a Rose-ringed Parakeet, Zebra Finches, Rock Doves and very noisily raucous Quails.
As we stopped there to watch the birds in the cage we noticed movement in the trees alongside. A large cuckoo sized grey bird – Grey Cuckooshrike. Yet another lovely bird to see in the forest.
Altogether Sally recorded 27 birds for the Atlas card.
Paul and Sally Bartho