26th July 2020
Having read about Cattle Paths on the Howick Buzz, Sally decided we should visit. Cattle Paths is located on the road from Estcourt to Weenen. It has numerous habitats for birding and the trails cannot be completed all in one day. As it was, we walked 12 kms and did not cover half of the potential trails.
The habitats include a long walk next to the Bushman’s River, Bushveld alongside a small stream, as well as agricultural land and a small dam.
We were met by Caroline and Geraldine who run Cattle Paths as a place where families can come and enjoy the outdoors. They are open on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays. Pre-booking is required. There is a restaurant there and a bar when it is allowed to operate. Both ladies appreciate nature and also know their birds.
At reception we saw a Long-crested Eagle to get us started. Then as we went to the start of the walks we bumped into this lovely Greater Double-collared Sunbird.
The walk to the river is down a fairly steep slope. And birds seemed to have come out to play – a flock of Red-faced Mousebirds.
The path along the river was through the trees with places close to the river amongst the trees. At one point we met a bird party. Mocking Cliff-Chats, Cape Robin-Chats, African Black Ducks, African Pied Wagtails, a Bearded Woodpecker drumming its familiar knock on wood, Fiscal Flycatchers and Brown-throated Martins flying up and down stream and back to their nesting sites.
Our memorable sighting at this bird party were the numerous White-fronted Bee-eaters in their radiant colours. Flying and perched they were magnificent.
Further along we went under a road bridge and continued up a small stream. From here on it was more open with the occasional steep eroded sandy cliff face beside us.
It was at one such sandy face that we spotted a bird stuck in one of its crevices. It was a large bird. Up we went and fetched it out. Unfortunately it was dead. A good looking Jackal Buzzard.
A bit further along we noticed a raptor high above us but despite the photos we are struggling to be positive of our ID. We think it is a Black-breasted Snake-Eagle. What do you think?
Following the blue trail we eventually ended up at Fourways. We followed the route around the dam noticing a number of waterbirds including the usual Egyptian Geese plus some South African Shelducks, Moorhens, Yellow-billed Ducks and a Little Grebe. Brown-throated Martins, African Black Swifts and African Palm-Swifts were flying overhead.
Tiredly, we returned along the river as we had started and seeing an array of birds – most of which we had seen earlier – especially where we had met the bird party. Here again we saw the African Black Ducks but this time an African Fish-Eagle hunted overlooking them. A Thick-billed Weaver did get my attention.
After a snack at the restaurant we headed home.
In all we atlassed 2 pentads and identified 67 different bird species. If you would like to see our bird list then click on this link.
Sally and Paul Bartho