Mike Kokot in Natal

Mike wrote,

“Hi Ron and Lester,

Shirley, Kerrin (our daughter) and I spent a very exciting day birding in the Dlinza Forest, Ongoye Forest and Mtunzini in KZN  on Wednesday 12 June 2019 and I’d like to share some rather poor quality pictures of “specials” we picked up.  We had a wonderful guide, Abednego Dube, whom I would happily recommend. The so-called roads in Ongoye are shocking (almost non-existent in places) but luckily we had the use of a sturdy Toyota Forester Diesel which served us well (Shirley doing all the driving). In spite of June being probably the worst birding month, we were very happy with the results.

“Lifers” for me included Green Barbet, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon (spotted by Shirley), Black-rumped Buttonquail, Croaking Cisticola, Olive Sunbird, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird and Palm-nut Vulture. We were hoping for Twinspots in Dlinza but no luck this time.

A HBC tour to that part of the world might be well received, don’t you think? Especially in Spring – the birding will be amazing!

Warm regards

Mike Kokot”

Marsh Owl at Rietvlei


Some of you will have seen the article in the newspaper about a Marsh Owl at Rietvlei.  Well, Jill Ekstein went to see it and sent me these wonderful images.  Many thanks!  I am sure that you will all enjoy seeing them.  It is being harassed by a Marsh Harrier.

Atlassing at Rooi Els and Harold Porter


Lester and Cheryl sent in these pictures and said the following,

‘At Rooi-Els there were at least 4 Shy Albatross gliding over the large swells from the Cold front as well as close views of a Southern Giant Petrel. Between the houses we found a Male Sentinel Rock-thrush sitting on a pole.

At Harold Porter we quickly located the White-fronted Bee-eater – seems quite settled there with all the insects around!’

Pelagic Birds at New Harbour


A quick visit to the New Harbour this morning revealed a number of pelagic species foraging nar the Abalone Factory water outlet.  These included Shy Albatross, White-chinned Petrel, Southern Giant Petrel and some unidentified Shearwaters.  It seems these birds come closer inshore during stormy periods, so one could do worse than to spend a while there on days like today.   Ronnie



John may not be able to pronounce the name of this delightful Karoo farm, but he was there, along with eighteen other HBC members enjoying a day and a half of excellent birding, despite the recent drought and our expectation of relatively few birds.  We arrived on Monday afternoon and birded on the farm, around the gardens and camp site, and on to the nearby dam.  We saw very little on the day, but the presence of a Goliath Heron on the dam in front of our accommodation more than made up for this!

Well, after a good dinner and a comfortable night (the new owners have expanded considerably and there was plenty of accommodation, with more on the way, judging by the amount of building in progress) we set out on Tuesday to drive the Bloutoring route.  Graham advised that this should take around four hours, but we took no less than eight!  Birding along this route was excellent with literally hundreds of birds at most locations.  Perhaps there were fewer species than usual, but the sheer numbers of some species, such as Black-headed and Yellow Canaries was exceptional!  Of course, we also recorded some good Karoo birds, enhancing our combined list and no doubt pushing up the numbers for the Challengers who were present!

Barbara regaled us with stories of past achievements at this location and we once again enjoyed good food and company before settling in for our last night.  A slow puncture saw yours truly departing early today, avoiding the possibility of having to change a wheel and also getting home to vote.

By the close of play on Wednesday evening our combined list totaled 77 species:

Bar-throated Apalis;  Acacia Pied Barbet;  Southern Red Bishop;  Yellow Bishop;  Bokmakerie;  Southern Boubou;  Cape Bulbul;  Cape Bunting;  Black-headed Canary;  Brimstone Canary;  Cape Canary;  White-throated Canary;  Yellow Canary;  Ant-eating Chat;  Familiar Chat;  Karoo Chat;  Grey-backed Cisticola;  Levaillant’s Cisticola;  Blue Crane;  Long-billed Crombec;  Cape Crow;  Pied Crow;  Cape Turtle Dove;  Red-eyed Dove;  Yellow-billed Duck;  Karoo Eremomela;  Common Fiscal;  Fairy Flycatcher;  Egytian Goose;  Spur-wingd Goose;  Pale Chanting Goshawk;  Black-headed Heron;  Goliath Heron;  Hadeda Ibis;  Rock Kestrel;  Black-shouldered Kite;  Karoo Korhaan;  Blacksmith Lapwing;  Cape Clapper Lark;  Karoo Lark;  Karoo Long-billed Lark;  Large-billed Lark;  Red-capped Lark;  Spike-heeled Lark;  Mallard;  Rock Martin;  White-backed Mousebird;  Speckled Pigeon;  Three-banded Plover;  Karoo Prinia;  White-necked Raven;  Karoo Scrub Robin;  Cape Robin-Chat;  South African Shellduck;  Cape Sparrow;  House Sparrow;  Southern Grey-headed Sparrow;  African Spoonbill;  Common Starling;  Pale-winged Starling;  Pied Starling;  African Stonechat;  White Stork;  Malachite Sunbird;  Southern Double-collared Sunbird;  Barn Swallow;  White-rumped Swift;  Cape Penduline Tit;  Layard’s Tit-Babbler;  Cape Wagtial;  Rufous-eared Warbler;  Common Waxbill;  Cape Weaver;  Southern Masked Weaver;  Capped Wheatear;  Mountain Wheatear;  Cape White-eye.

Pelagic Birds come to Hermanus

Lester reported yesterday,

“With the chilly wind and passing cold front, there was a nice selection of Sea Birds this morning at the New Harbour. Top of the list were two Southern Giant Petrels, and we had nice views of Brown (Sub-Antarctic) Skua, Sooty Shearwater, White-chinned Petrel, some Jaegers and lots of Gannets.”


Vrolijkheid Reserve


Our monthly walk was at Vrolijkheid Reserve near to McGregor, yesterday morning.  As we drove from Hermanus, we were worried about the weather as there was a gale blowing when we approached Villiersdorp, but by the time we arrived at Vrolijkheid, we had a perfect warm clear day.

We were all thrilled by the variety of Karoo birds, starting off with Fairy Flycatchers as we set out from the picnic site.  The walk to the dams was productive with Chestnut-vented Tit-Babblers, Red-faced Mousebirds, Acacia Pied Barbets and many more. A real coup was hearing and seeing Namaqua Warblers.  Then, on the way back we saw Agulhas Long-billed Lark, a useful addition to our Challenge lists.

There were 17 members present, a good turn out considering we had to drive a total of over 300 kms. Some did, however, make more than a day of the outing and spent the preceding night in McGregor, thereby relieving themselves of the early morning start.

We recorded 92 species in and around the Reserve – a good total, achieved before the afternoon wind picked up and rather ruined the rest of the day as far as birding was concerned.

Bar-throated Apalis;  Acacia Pied Barbet;  Yellow Bishop;  Bokmakerie;  Southern Boubou;  Cape Bulbul;  Cape Bunting;  Denham’s Bustard;   Jackal Buzzard;  Cape Canary;  White-throated Canary;  Yellow Canary;  Ant-eating Chat;  Familiar Chat;  Karoo Chat;  Sickle-winged Chat;  Grey-backed Cisticola;  Levaillant’s Cisticola;  Red-knobbed Coot;  Reed Cormorant;  White-breasted Cormorant;  Blue Crane;  Long-billed Crombec;  Cape Crow;  Pied Crow;  African Darter;  Cape Turtle Dove;  Laughing Dove;   Namaqua Dove;  Red-eyed Dove;  African Black Duck;  Yellow-billed Duck;  African Fish Eagle;  Western Cattle Egret;  Common Fiscal;  Fairy Flycatcher;  Fiscal Flycatcher;  Egyptian Goose;  Spur-winged Goose;  Pale Chanting Goshawk;  Little Grebe;  Sombre Greenbul;  Helmeted Guineafowl;  Hamerkop;  African Hoopoe;  Black-headed Heron;  African Sacred Ibis;   Hadeda Ibis;  Rock Kestrel;  Black-shouldered Kite;  Blacksmith Lapwing;  Crowned Lapwing;  Agulhas Long-billed Lark;  Large-billed Lark;  Banded Martin;  Brown-throated Martin;  Rock Martin;  Common Moorhen;  Red-faced Mousebird;  Speckled Mousebird;  White-backed Mousebird;  Long-billed Pipit;  Common Ringed Plover;  Three-banded Plover;   Karoo Prinia;  White-necked Raven;  Karoo Scrub Robin;  Cape Robin-Chat;  South African Shellduck;  Cape Sparrow;  House Sparrow;  Southern Grey-headed Sparrow;  Cape Spurfowl;  Common Starling;  Pied Starling;  Red-winged Starling;  Black-winged Stilt;  African Stonechat;  Malachite Sunbird;  Southern Double-collared Sunbird;  Southern Tchagra;  Red-billed Teal;  Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler;  Layard’s Tit-Babbler;  Cape Wagtail;  Lesser Swamp Warbler;  Little Rush Warbler;  Namaqua Warbler;  Common Waxbill;  Cape Weaver;  Southern Masked Weaver.

Atlassing on the Koppies Road


Yesterday Ronnie, Renee and Anne accompanied Lester and Cheryl on an outing to the Koppies road north of Villiersdorp.  We had a very good outing – the start was in thick mist, but it soon cleared and we had a warm day with absolutely no wind, so perfect birding weather!  Lester wrote as follows;

We ended up with a total list of 84 species over 3 Pentads. The surprise birds of the day were Greater Honey-guide, Klaas’s Cuckoo and Red-billed Quelea. Overall we got some nice birds and it was great to find the Fairy Flycatchers and Chestnut-vented Tit-babblers. Other good birds found included Long-billed Crombec, White-throated Canary, Cape Rock Thrush, hearing a Grey Tit, a few Cape Buntings and a bunch of White-backed Mousebirds.

Hopefully we can find the Long-billed larks next week during the club outing to Vrolijkheid!