Well lately I’ve done a few random birding trips, got another Lifer and a new pair of binocs!
I went down to Umhlanga at the beginning of June, it was my birthday weekend and also the first time meeting my new niece, Alice. I decided on the day that I needed a new bird for my list, I needed a birthday bird. Seeing as we were by the beach, I decided I needed to go find a gull for my list, so not a very exciting birthday bird 😄. We headed down to the beach and there was absolutely nothing there, hardly any people either! Hmm, had we just come down here for nothing? This should be a fairly easy bird to find…I looked through my binocs far down the beach and saw 3 tiny spots flying towards us…”They’re coming!” I shouted. The 3 Kelp Gulls flew over and around us, then landed and paraded around for some photos. Another one for the list ✔️
The next weekend I decided last minute to drive out to Rietvlei Nature Reserve near Pretoria, to see what I could find.
I got some fairly clear and decent shots of a Pipit, and seeing as this is my birding year I made the effort to look through my books carefully to try and figure this one out, and I’ve got it down to 2 options but I’m still not 100% sure, which frustrates me no end! Any help welcome!
Further along I heard a Bokmakierie calling from the bushes and before I could find it, it had flown out and up the road. I managed to follow it and see it land next to the road further up. I drove slowly and managed to stop right next to it without it flying off. I got a great pic of it, I just love the colours there. All of a sudden it started calling. I thought my bird app had switched on and was playing the call because it was so loud. It wasn’t the normal calls I know of a Bokmakierie but it was nice nonetheless and fascinating to watch up close. I also saw a whole bunch of African Stone Chats, a beautiful African Black Duck, Pied Starlings, Yellow-billed Ducks, Common Moorhen, Crowned Lapwing, Ostrich, Cape Longclaw and a very cool African Snipe.
The next birding adventure took me back to my hometown, Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. For the past few months there have been reports of a Lesser Jacana being seen at Pond 4 of the Darvill Sewage Works. I thought this would be an easy find, the bird will just be there, waiting for me, how hard could it be?! I dipped on that bird! We only had limited time, and the sun was into our faces so it made searching kinda difficult. I did however, get another bird for my list, Cape Shovelers, I do like the look of these birds.I was quite impressed with the huge variety of birds in the ponds, and will have to go back there another time. I wasn’t impressed with the smell though! Other birds on view were Hottentot Teal, hundreds of Black-winged Stilts, African Jacana, African Snipe, Dabchicks, Grey Herons….
We then headed up to Monk’s Cowl, in the Drakensberg. Well I was not expecting that! A Sugarbird wasn’t even on my mind going up there. We drove up to the Monk’s Cowl camp in the afternoon and there were some beautiful Aloes in the garden so I was hoping for some sunbirds to appear. A very curious little Cape Robin-chat sat nearby on the Aloe leaves, after getting a shot of it I turned my attention to some other bushes and only with my glasses on I saw a mousebird sitting warming itself in the sun. Taking a quick closer look with my binocs, I realised that it was not a mousebird but a much sweeter Sugarbird!! All excitement breaks loose! The Gurney’s Sugarbird flew down to the Aloes on the other side of the pathway and started feeding on the nectar. The light was fading and it was hard to focus, let alone keep still! A definite Lifer for me, such a gorgeous little bird, hopefully I will see it again soon!
The following morning we did a short hike and after recovering with a ice cold coke, it was time to leave, but not before seeing the sweet little Cape Batis, another Lifer. That brings us to the latest of my birding outings. Every morning and evening I drive through Victory Park, and across the green belt there, and every day I see Rose-ringed Parakeets flying overhead. I recently read somewhere on FB that there are approximately 2000 of these birds roosting in the trees right next to he shopping centre. I found this a bit hard to believe but after seeing increasing numbers in the flocks I began to think it possibly true. So I went to investigate. At first it was fairly slow, a few small flocks of birds coming in, one or two here and there, but it gradually picked up and then Bam! The much bigger flocks started coming in and fast, one after another! In one shot I got there must be 20-30 birds, so multiply that a whole bunch and you very well could get to 2000 birds. These birds are invasive to South Africa, and research is being done to investigate their numbers, habits, roosting sites, breeding and food sources and whether or not they are a threat to our local birds, especially the log nesting species, such as Barbets.
Even though they are invasive, they are very pretty birds, and it was quite a thing to witness such huge numbers coming in to roost.
Oh yes, and to improve my bird viewing I finally got my new pair of binoculars, Nikon Monarch 5 8×42. So far so good!!
Year list total – 190