Darvill Report

Darvill Sewerage Works, Pietermaritzburg

Sunday 28 February 2016

Paul and Sally Bartho

Twelve of us ventured to Darvill for the Sunday outing. It was an overcast day on arrival and brightened later.

Darvill was very overgrown but still worth a visit. Many of the waterbirds were absent. Despite that we still  identified 92 species. Click here to see our bird list.

On arrival we were greeted with a lot of activity on the open grass above the ponds. White Storks were everywhere along with Blacksmith Lapwings, African Sacred Ibis and Hadedah Ibis.

Pied Crows chased Steppe Buzzards and Yellow-billed Kites.

Pied Crow chasing a Steppe Buzzard
Pied Crow chasing a Steppe Buzzard

We started our walk along the top of the ponds then went down to the river. It was difficult to see into the ponds and impossible to walk between them – too overgrown. Along the way we had views of Dark-capped Yellow Warbler, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Common Waxbill and both Diderick’s and Klaas’s Cuckoos were calling.


At one section we had views over one of the middle ponds. Here we heard African Rail and had views of Cormorants, Yellow-billed, African Black and White-faced Ducks, Yellow-billed Egrets, Little Grebes, Three-banded Plover, Red-billed Teal and several other common waterbirds.

Red-billed Teal
Red-billed Teal

The highlight though was hearing and seeing a (European) Sedge Warbler in the reeds in front of us.

During the course of the morning we saw or heard a number of Warblers – Sedge, Willow, Little Rush-, Lesser Swamp- and an African Reed Warbler.

Paul - Hennie and Decklan Jordaan
Paul – Hennie and Decklan Jordaan

Eventually we reached the river. As we approached we had excellent views of Red-backed Shrikes – male and female along with more Fan-tailed widowbirds.

Looking up the canals we had views of a number of African Black Ducks in each canal – which we considered to be quite unusual.

Also in the canals we saw Common and Wood Sandpipers and Brown-throated Martins. Hennie patiently managed to get a reasonable shot of one of the Martins.

Further down in the river there were White-breasted Cormorant and a Grey Heron basking in the river. Alongside was a Brown-hooded Kingfisher and the calls of Terrestrial Brownbuls.

Then walking back along the road by the canals we had further excitement. Among the Red-billed Teals and other waterbirds, Decklan spotted a bird which he found difficult to identify.

Because of its unusual markings it is probably a hybrid Mallard.

Further along we noticed a rather long Spectacled Weaver’s nest and also saw a Lesser Masked-Weaver, Willow Warblers, Cape Grassbird (singing) Barn Swallows perched, White-faced Ducks.

Butterflies were spotted but perhaps the one which got Sandi excited was a Painted Lady.

Seen while doing a bit of car birdwatching.

Car Birding - Hennie and Decklan Jordaan
Car Birding – Hennie and Decklan Jordaan

Although the Grey Crowned Cranes were not present in the open grassland when we arrived, one did appear on our return from our walk. Always lovely to see.

Grey-crowned Crane
Grey-crowned Crane

Passing the rubbish tip next to the sewerage works a different Stork was spotted flying over by Hennie and Decklan. Into the rubbish tip we drove and there on top of one of the distant electricity pylons was a Marabou Stork.

Maribou Stork
Maribou Stork

Credits are shown on each photo unless taken by Paul Bartho.

Hope you enjoyed the read.

Paul and Sally Bartho


Rocky Wonder Aloe Nursery.

Rocky Wonder Aloe Nursery.
Weekend and Sunday Outing 22 – 24 May 2015

Rocky Wonder is near Ashburton. It is an aloe nursery. The property is 22 acres of virgin Bushveld. Peter and Heather, the owners, have opened it up to nature lovers and birders. They have built 7 camp sites and a few self catering suites.

Our party of 7 were the first ever to camp at Rocky Wonder and we were not disappointed.


On Saturday we set off at 7:30am, the morning turned out to be perfect weather. We saw roughly 55 birds – Red Billed Quelea, White-browed Scrub-Robin, Amethyst Sunbird, Collared Sunbird, Lazy Cisticola to name a few.

We went to Darvill Park on Saturday afternoon and saw another 50 great birds. Mike spotted a Purple Heron flying away which miraculously become an African Marsh Harrier!! After that the excitement died down and there were no more unbelievable transformations.

At first we came across a field full of Blacksmith Lapwings _ or Lapsmiths as Paul likes to call them. Among them were four Grey-crowned Cranes – two adults and two immature.

The African Snipes were a lifer for me so I was over the moon!

Also seen were Southern Pochard, Cape Shoveler, African Spoonbill, Hottentot Teal, Red-Billed Teal, Squacco Heron, South African Shelduck and a Yellow Billed Duck.

There was even action in the sky as an African Fish-Eagle was bombed by a Pied Crow. And an African Marsh Harrier made an appearance.

For our Sunday outing we were joined by 9 other members totalling 16 for the outing. The weather was very good to us once again.

Click here to see he bird lists for both Rocky Wonder and Darvill.

The morning was spent exploring other well pathed areas of Rocky Wonder. It was enjoyed by all ending with a picnic / tea at the camp site. Much the same species were seen as we saw on Saturday.

A number of people also took advantage of the nursery and bought Aloes to take home for their gardens.

Cheryl Bevan