We had a good turn out for the walk (18) and our bird count was 69. The weather was a bit odd to start with as there was a heavy mist hanging above the reserve and there was almost a slight drizzle at times but then the sun came out and it was hot, hot, hot and the birding got much better. From the top path we had great views of Cape Rock Thrush, Yellow-throated Longclaw and Golden Weaver. Plenty of sunbirds, various weavers both Olive and Kurrichane Thrush. Diederik, Klaas’s and Red-chested Cuckoos called – a few people managed to see the Diederik. Raptors – maybe not as good as usual, Common Buzzard, Crowned Eagle, African Harrier Hawk and African Gos; the Fish Eagle was heard.
The flowers are always a delight at Springside and this year the ground orchids were superb, Disa , Eulophia and Satriuyms, also lots of flowering trees.
The pic of the mating Rain Forest Brown butterflies is Sandi’s, the rest of the pics are from Cheryl (the Golden Weaver is fabulous).
We collected R300 for the Hillcrest Conservancy – thanks to your generous donations.
Five months later Jenny Norman and I were back at Tala – last Sunday of the month BLPN get a special discount, although it has increased over the past 5 months it is still not expensive. We arrived around 06:45 and the day started off with a ‘bang’. In the fig tree just past the gates were a pair of Spotted Eagle Owls. Next an African Marsh Harrier quartering the hillside, then down to the dam for all the usual suspects and again we were pleasantly surprised. Lots of Southern Pochards, Cape Shovellers, Black Crake, Purple Heron, African Rail and all sorts of warblers in the reeds. On to the picnic site for coffee and muffins – the Erythrinas and Clivias in full flower. Amazingly we saw no sunbirds all day and only heard the White-bellied late in the afternoon. Red-throated Wrynecks all along the causeway, and then we spotted the Fiscal Flycatcher, the first of hundreds of Fiscal Flycatchers!! One lone stunning Scimitarbill – calling to the others but to no avail. We had some good raptors, African Fish Eagle, Long crested Eagle, Lanner Falcon, YBK, Black-shouldered Kite as well as the owls and harrier. Around 16:30 Jenny suggested a last drive up to Paperbark Lodge and around the back road which passes a number of small dams. What a great idea! As we came up to Paperbark, past the dam which is almost dry, there on the side of the road were a pair of Blue Cranes – absolute perfection. Then round to the small dams. Yellow-billed Egret, Spoonbills, South African Shelduck, herons and jacanas and just as we were making tracks for the gate 3 Red-billed Oxpeckers on the Zebra – what a great way to end the day. Our total bird count was 95!
Firstly thanks to the Hillcrest Conservancy and in particular George Victor for arranging access at 06:00 which was much appreciated. We had a very good turn out ±36 (all those New Year resolutions!) and our composite bird countfrom the 3 groups was 69. I think the specials were the excellent views of the Brown backed Honeybird, Lesser Honeyguide, Golden Weaver and a really superb Grassbird. Our raptor count was not too shabby either with good views of Common (Steppe) Buzzard and a pair of African Harrier Hawks, YBK’s, Long crested Eagle and brief views of a Crowned Eagle. Some photos attached.
Cheers and best wishes for good birding in 2013 – Elena