Vumbuka and Umbogavango

Vumbuka and Umbogavango

Saturday 6 August 2016

Report by Elena Russell

The moon was a sliver in the dawn sky and the click of the African Goshawk could be heard overhead and then seen.  We had a good turnout starting off with about 14 members and ending up with 18/19 (the guards had been told about late-comers).

In the beginning a lot of the birding was on call but as the morning warmed up things started to improve.  Red-fronted Tinkerbirds caused a bit of excitement, we then saw the Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds which didn’t quite have the same pulling power!

As we walked through the ‘man-made’ forested area of Vumbuka (it is amazing what AECI have done in reclaiming slime dams and dumps) we identified Southern Boubou, Green-backed Camaroptera, Terrestrial Brownbul, Dark-capped Bulbul, Sombre and Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Bar-throated Apalis, Chinspot and Cape Batis as well as lots of nice flycatchers: Black, Dusky, Ashy, African Paradise.  Our sunbird tally was not too shabby either: Collared, Grey, Olive and Amethyst.   A very confiding Red-capped Robin Chat (aka Natal Robin) gave us one of those special birding moments too.

Tambourine and Red-eyed Doves, Square-tailed and Fork-tailed Drongos in abundance, Yellow-fronted and Brimstone Canaries, Black-collared and dare I say it the ubiquitous White-eared Barbet.

As we came out towards the grassland area there were masses of Africa Palm Swifts and & Black Saw-wings and to a lesser extent Lesser Striped Swallows and Rock Martins.

African Palm-Swift
African Palm-Swift – PB

Here we had Grey and Black-headed Herons, Rattling Cisticola, Bronze and Red-backed Mannikins as well as Tawny-flanked Prinias.  We also had excellent views of a juvenile African Goshawk  as well as an adult flying overhead.

And nearby in the grassy field there were Blacksmith Lapwings and Fan-tailed Widowbirds. African Pied Wagtails were seen in the fenced dam.

We had our tea at Vumbuka and then went on to Umbogavango (maybe a little late for good birding) but a number of Black-headed Orioles greeted us in the car park and a pair of African Fish Eagle delighted us as we set off for our second walk.

We got very excited in trying to identify a raptor. There were two raptors perched at most five metres apart. One was an adult Black Sparrowhawk. The other caused some consternation amongst the group. It was obviously a juvenile – but what? African Harrier-Hawk was one opinion the other a Black Sparrowhawk. In the end the consensus was Black Sparrowhawk (juvenile).

At the last hide not much on the water, Yellow-billed Duck, Little Grebe and Common Moorhen.

A slow walk back to the picnic site where Jenny and Jane were waiting. Did you see the Yellow-billed Kite? They asked. Of course none of us had. Here, an African Jacana entertained us while we had lunch and chatted (remember this is the Saturday Chat Show!!).

Our total bird count was 77 – not too shabby.

Thanks to John and Paul for the pics.


Umbogavango and Vumbuka

Led by Barry Swaddle

Sunday 28 June 2015

Eleven birders gathered at the entrance to AECI in Amanzimtoti. The plan was to bird in Vumbuka. However Barry suggested we visit Umbogavango first as his reconnaissance the previous week had revealed that Vumbuka was quiet by comparison.

Barry took us into the grassland area behind the ablutions and then around the site visiting the bird hides and through its many various habitats.

Altogether 77 bird species were recorded including a number of raptors – African Crowned Eagle, African Fish-Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Lanner Falcon and Black Sparrowhawk. To view the list click here.

Here are photos of some of the birds seen.

The most interesting sighting was not that of a bird. Sally searched for why birds were going crazy in a distant tree when she spotted a rather large Green Mamba in the tree next to all the action.

After several hours at Umbogavango we headed for tea at the newly refurbished Lapa in Vumbuka. The Lapa has been extended and can seat many more people under shelter. There are also braai facilities available.

Several of us took a stroll around a section of Vumbuka after tea. Birds were calling but were few and far between – probably as it was already midday. However a number of butterflies were photographed and are included here to challenge your skills at IDing them.

Paul and Sally Bartho

Saturday 3 January Outing to Umbogavango

New Year’s outing to Umbogavango

Although we started early it was still very hot and humid and by 09:00 the birds were seeking shade as well as the birders!!

There were 25 of us and our bird count was 83 plus – not too shabby for such a hot day. Maybe nothing spectacular although we did hunt high and low for the Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and Fulvous Duck to no avail.

Various nests were found, Fork tailed Drongo high up in a Eucalyptus and in the same tree the White-eared Barbets were nesting and feeding chicks. Of course the weavers were busy; Village, Thick-billed, Yellow, Spectacled and Dark-backed.

Penny has taken some super pics of a Yellow Weaver starting out on his nest – let’s hope they meets with approval. Sunbirds were conspicuous by their absence – the one group heard was an Olive Sunbird and that was it.

Raptors: Long crested and African Fish Eagle – lots of YBK’s and a Common Buzzard.   A number of Egyptian Geese with chicks and a lone Spur-wing perched in a dead tree.

Otherwise the water birds were mainly Little Grebe, Yellow-billed Duck and Common Moorhen. Lesser Swamp and Little Rush Warblers were mainly heard but we did manage to see a few as well.

We also found the most beautiful tree(?) frog – bright yellow (Sandi tells me that if the eyes are horizontal it is a painted reed frog but if the eyes are vertical then it is a tree frog).

Another unusual sighting was that of a pair of Red-billed Quelea.

Umbogavango is a lovely place, easy walking with various hides and masses of yellow and white arums in amongst the reeds. Waking back over the weir to the picnic site we surprised a Mountain Wagtail to end off a good morning’s birding. Here are some of the other photos taken:

Thanks to Sally for leading a group and thanks to all the photographers Rex, Mike, Paul & Penny and anybody else I might have left out for the superb pics!

Cheers & a Happy New Year


Umbogavango Sat 7 June 2014

Report Back by Elena Russell

Photos curtesy of Declan Jordan, Rex Aspeling, John Bremner and Dave Rimmer.

Umbogavango in Winter came up trumps – it was a beautiful day and the birding was great as can be seen from the superb pics. There were 19 members & 1 visitor and we broke up into 2 groups – thanks to Ismail for leading the 2nd group.

White-eared Barbets in abundance;

White-eared Barbet
White-eared Barbet
White-eared Barbets
White-eared Barbets

then we had the most lovely views of 6/7 Black Collared Barbets sitting in the top of a fever tree catching the sun (what a great pic!!).  7 Black-collared Barbets (Lybius torquatus)_D714164

Black-collared Barbets
Black-collared Barbets

Maybe not so many water birds as in Summer but Black Crake were seen a number of times as well as a very strange hybrid goose hanging out with a pair of Egyptian Geese and their chicks (any ideas on the lineage?).

Raptors: Black Sparrowhawk, Lanner Falcon, African Fish Eagle and then the piece de resistance a Palm-nut Vulture circling overhead and giving us the most fabulous display – I think we then decided it was a glorious day.

We had a brief glimpse of a Natal Spurfowl; Giant, Malachite & Brown-hooded Kingfishers, Cape, Pied & Mountain Wagtails, plenty of flycatchers and sunbirds and lots, lots more – our count was 74 but a few of us stayed on for another short walk and we had large flocks of Red-back Mannikins and a sole Blacksmith Lapwing flew into sight just as we were leaving making a total count of 76 – not too shabby for a Winter’s morning birding.

The Tapinanthus (kraussianus(?) was flowering on lots of the trees much to the enjoyment of the sunbirds.

Mistletoe - Tapinanthus (kraussianus perhaps)
Mistletoe – Tapinanthus (kraussianus perhaps)
Strangling Tree
Strangling Tree