Tanglewood Farm Nature Reserve

Report by: Elena Russell

Saturday 3 October 2015

Last year it took us 3 attempts to bird Tanglewood Farm Nature Rerserve before we had decent weather. This year we had a perfect sunny day, the hillside had been burnt with wild flowers everywhere. We had an excellent turnout – must have been over 30 people: members, visitors and a few latecomers. Our bird count wasn’t too shabby either in the region of 88 – things are hotting up for summer.

We split up into 2 groups and on entering the forest the one group had wonderful views of a pair of Narina Trogon unfortunately the second group dipped but we got to see the photos!!

Natal Robins (Red-capped Robin Chats) called from hidden depths within the forest and very occasionally seen. Olive Thrush fossicked around in the fallen leaves, African Paradise-Flycatchers in abundance, not too many Black and a few Dusky Flycatchers.

A pair of Dark-backed Weavers had made their nest overhanging the forest path, much time was spent watching the pair bringing in nesting material and listening to the lovely call (the Afrikaans name is so evocative ‘bosmusikant’).

On the forest walk Cape Batis, Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Boubou, Klaas’s & African Emerald Cuckoos, Tambourine Doves, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Cameropteras, Sombre Greenbuls, Purple-crested and Knysna Turacos, Black-collared Barbets, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds – sunbirds: Amethyst, Olive, Collared and Greater Double-collared – plus lots of bird calls.

Walking up to the Cabin (aka the Boathouse) for morning tea, a pair of Crowned Eagles put on a magnificent display.

Afrcan Crowned Eagle
Afrcan Crowned Eagle

Earlier on we had African Goshawk, Yellow-billed Kites all day long, plus White-necked Raven, a Black Sparrowhawk and a Long-crested Eagle also put in an appearance.

Around the dams we had Grey and Black-headed Herons, Hamerkops and Hadeda Ibis everywhere. In the skies there were White-rumped, African Palm, African Black and Little Swifts, as well as Lesser-striped Swallows and Black Saw-wings.


After tea we walked the grassland area and down to another dam where the Yellow Weavers are nesting.

Yellow Weaver nest building
Yellow Weaver nest building

We also had Cape, Village, Spectacled and Thick-billed Weavers. The grassland yielded some good birding, Yellow-throated Longclaws, Streaky headed Seedeaters, Croaking Cisticolas, Grassbirds, Red-backed and Bronze Mannikins, Pin-tailed Whydah, Fantailed Widowbirds, Rufous-naped Larks and again lots lots more!!

Lots of butterflies and other critters:

and some really wonderful wild flowers. Just before entering the forest we came across a ground orchid Disa Woodii (looks like a glowing candle – Elsa Pooley) – birding can be such fun!!.

We returned to the cabin for a braai-brunch and the bird list – much hilarity and mirth- especially when we got all excited over a Black Stork that actually was a Woolly-necked Stork (can you believe it was going to be ‘Bird of the Day’).

Thanks to the guys who got the braai going, thanks to Sandi, John and Paul for the pics and a mega thank you to Caryl for allowing us to visit Tanglewood Farm.

Jenny lost a lens cap (if anybody picked it up) and I have a very nice bright blue camping chair in my boot – any takers? The striped pink hat has been claimed!!



Tanglewood Saturday 13 December

At last we made it to Tanglewood; the weather was not too good but at least it was not raining and it did improve as the morning wore on.  There were 18/20 of us and our bird count was 69 (at tea) + we added a couple more on leaving.

Tanglewood – as you can see above – is a magical place. On arriving we drove past the dams and the temptation to stop was great but we carried on and parked under the trees near Caryl’s house.

We first went into the forest and a lot of the birding to begin with was based on call: Knysna & Purple-crested Turacos, Tambourine Doves, Red-chested & Klaas’s Cuckoos, brief glimpses of the Natal Robin, Cape Batis, Dark-backed & Spectacled Weavers (plus nests) & the Square-tailed and Fork-tailed Drongos were everywhere.

Southern Black Flycatchers - Parent and juvenile
Southern Black Flycatchers – Parent and juvenile

Also Spotted, Dusky, Black & Paradise Flycatchers; Olive, Collared & Amethyst Sunbirds; Olive Thrush, Southern Boubou.

We walked the waterfall trail but gave up after awhile as we were spotting few birds and we were anxious to go to the dams and grassland area. On the way back we had a brief glimpse of the Crowned Eagle flying overhead.

Crowned Eagle
Crowned Eagle

On leaving the more forested areas and walking down the hill towards the house we were met by a belligerent Peacock (called Charles). Do not cross the lawn in front of the house – the Peacock rules supreme and you will be chased off!!

The horses wanted to befriend us which had Tina running for cover. Anyway we made it down to the road and set off for the dams and the grassland.

There are several dams on the property.  Just before the entrance there is a dam on each side of the road. Here we observed lots of Grey Herons (including juveniles) plus one Black-headed Heron.

There were Yellow Weavers plus at least one pair of Golden Weavers nesting at the first dam. Bronze & Red-backed Mannikins – plus a very odd looking Bronzie which had white feathers on the nape of its neck.

As we walked up the hill into the grasslands the Blesbok & Impala gave us a wide berth – some could only have been born the day or two before. The birding was good – Croaking Cisticolas were calling and displaying and then we had the ‘Bird of the Day’ Broad-tailed Warbler – which was a lifer for one or two of us.

Lesser Striped & Barn Swallows, Palm, White-rumped and Little Swifts plus a few Black Saw-wings.  Good views of a Rufous-naped Lark, Fan-tailed Widows, Burchell’s Coucal by the dam, Brown-hooded Kingfishers and lovely views of Yellow-throated Longclaws. And a contentious Cuckoo on the horizon. For some a Red-chested, others a Klaas’s but wethinks otherwise – see what you think from the picture below.

On the way up and down the grassland several photos were taken of the local game to be found on the estate as well as some flora and other critters.

Even a Ball Python was seen:

Ball Python
Ball Python

There were lots of YBK’s and lots, lots more!! But it was time for tea & what a tea Caryl had prepared for us on the patio of her house with Christmas mince pies and a cake with cherries (very nice too).  We left a copy of next year’s BLPN calendar with her to enjoy.

A new bird hide is in the process of being built by the first dam and the suggestion was made that later on in the year we have an afternoon walk/birding & have a sundowner braai at the hide – watch the activities page!!

Caryl & her son Jan are excellent guardians of a most wonderful place and their hospitality and generosity in allowing us to visit Tanglewood is very much appreciated.

Photos are by courtesy of Decklan and Paul – thanks guys. We collected R335 which will be donated to BLPN thanks to us all!