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.


Vumbuka Saturday 1 August.

Report on our Saturday outing- Elena Russell

15 hardy souls braved the very early morning start – we gathered by the light of a full moon and it was very very cold!!

Full Moon Greeted us on Arrival
Full Moon Greeted us on Arrival

As we headed off for Vumbuka the ‘quick’ of an African Goshawk could be heard high above us in the sky – intoxicating stuff!

Vumbuka is fabulous – walking through the forest we were accompanied by the dawn chorus. Our tiny hands may have been frozen but we were having fun. The birds were hunting for the sunniest spots. The White-eared Barbets had found an excellent dead tree in which to perch and catch the sun and an African Hoopoe was calling high up in an adjacent tree. We could hear a Black Sparrowhawk calling in the distance but it was only later in the day that we had great views of the Spars. Red-fronted & Yellow-rumped Tinkerbirds, Yellow-fronted Canaries and Cape White-eyes were everywhere feasting on the figs. Plenty of Sombre Greenbuls, Dark-capped Bulbuls, Dusky, Paradise and Black Flycatchers. Brief glimpses of Tambourine Doves and Yellow-bellied Greenbuls.

Excellent sightings of Grey Cuckooshrike, Sunbirds; Amethyst, Olive, Grey & Collared, Weavers; Thickbilled, Spectacled, Village and Dark-Backed. Yellowbreasted Apalis were calling and a Bar-throated Apalis was seen later at the gazebo. Natal Robins (Red-capped Robin-Chat), Southern Black Tit, Fork-tailed Drongos. Black-collared Barbets and the calls of Purple Crested Turacos and Southern Boubou kept the list ticking up nicely.

Walking back through the grasslands we had masses of Palm Swifts, Black Sawwings and quite a few Lesser Striped Swallows (presumably they over-wintered on the balmy South Coast). Tawny-flanked Prinias, Speckled Mousebirds, Bronze Mannikins and a Black-headed Heron.

We had our tea at the gazebo and our count at that stage was 54. After tea we went on down to Umbogavango and at that stage we had decided the bird of the day was the Grey Cuckooshrike but driving into Umbogavango we good views of a female Narina Trogon. We quickly parked and hurried back up the road with the rest of the group and managed to get some good photos of the beautiful bird.

We then went on another walk – and added some really nice birds to our list. An African Fish Eagle was being harassed by the Black Sparrowhawks, White-bellied Sunbird, Little Bee-eaters, Giant and Malachite Kingfishers, Red-backed Mannikins, Hamerkop, Cape Wagtail, Olive and Kurrichane Thrush, Sacred Ibis and Woolly-necked Storks flew overhead, Little Rush and Lesser Swamp Warblers in the reeds and we thought we had done pretty well but of course Jenny, Rowena and Vauneen who had stayed behind in the hide picked up Lesser Honeyguide and Green Twinspots (drat) – in total our bird count was 80!!.

The photo of the tree with the pretty white flowers – Tabernaemontana Ventricosa or in plain English a Toad Tree.

The Erythrinas – Lysistemon and Caffra were in full bloom and plenty have been planted all over this pretty reserve.

Thanks to John, Dave, Paul and Hennie 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