Eastern South Africa – 12-27 January 2020

 

Brian and Pat Wetton joined the Birdfinders trip to Eastern South Africa in January 2020. Birding Africa were the local agents and their guide/driver for the trip was Vince Ward. He replaced Joe Grosel, the normal leader, due to Joe being ill. Vince was a good and energetic leader and was aided by local guides at various locations: Stuart McLean and Aldo Berruti at Sani Pass; Junior Gabela at Dlinza Forest; Lucky Ngwenya at Wakkerstroom; and the recovered Joe Grosel at Polokwane. We thank them all.

 

Our fellow birders were old friends Dave and Kay Ryves plus James and Angela Ferguson, Michael Fallon and  Michael Webber.

 

We personally recorded 376 species of birds of which 100 were new. We also saw 36 mammal species.

 

Itinerary

12 January – Emirates  flight from Gatwick to Dubai

13 January – Emirates onward flight to Durban then to Fern Hills Hotel at Hilton

14 January – Sani Pass to Lesotho and return to Cedar Gardens at Underberg

15 January – Marutswa Forest, Franklin Marsh, Harding Grasslands

                        and  on to Royston Hall on the coast at Umtentweni

16 January – Oribi Hotel and Gorge,and north to Birds of Paradise Guest House

at Eshowe

17 January -  Dlinza Forest, Eshowe Dam, Umfelosi River to St Lucia and

                        Igwalagwala Guest House

18 January – Eden Park, the Igwalagwala Trail and Dune Forest at St Lucia

                        And on to Bonamanzi Game Park

19 January – Bonamanzi to Mkhuze Game Park and back

20 January – Bonamanzi to Wakkerstroom and Wetlands Country House

21 January – Wakkerstroom Grasslands inc Dirkiesdorp, Daggakraal and

                        Fitklands Pan then back to Wetlands Country House

22 January – Wakkerstroom Wetlands & Hills to Crocodile River and Kruger

                        National Park. Night at Berg en Dal camp.

23 January – Kruger north to Skukuze and Satara camp

24 January – Satara to Abel Erasmus Pass, New Agatha Plantation and

                        on to Bramasole Guest House near Magoebaskloof

25 January – Bramasole and Woodbush Forests to Plum Tree Lodge at Polokwane

26 January – Polokwane Game Park and on to Johannesburg for Emirates

                        flight  to Dubai

27 January – Emirates flight to Gatwick



Site Map:

South Africa.gif

 

 

 

Sites:

 

Sani Pass (SP): A mountain pass through the Drakensbergs from Underberg to Lesotho. The lower level has ponds, scrub and grassland. Higher are sugarbushes and rocky scars whilst at the top are steep sandstone cliffs and rocky mountain sheep pastures with ericaceous scrub. Recent heavy rains had made the upper part of the track only just passable.

 

Cedar Gardens at Underberg (UB): Large garden with bushes and bird feeders

 

Marutswa Forest (MF): Indigenous mist forest with yellowwood trees and traditional Cape Parrot roost. We missed them!

 

Franklin Marsh (FM): Reed marsh and ponds in pastoral agricultural setting en route to Harding.

 

Harding Grasslands (HG): Grasslands near the town of Harding where Blue Swallows occur. The area is surrounded with alien plantations of pines and eucalyptus.

 

Umtentweni (UM): A forested estuary on the coast north of Port Shepstone.

 

Oribi (OR): A wooded and rocky gorge north of Port Shepstone overlooked by the park-like grounds of the Oribi Hotel.

 

Birds of Paradise at Eshowe (BP):  Extensive gardens of the Birds of Paradise Guest House.

 

Dlinza Forest (DF): Residual 250 hectare coastal scarp forest with aerial walkway and hide beside the town of Eshowe.

 

Eshowe Dam (ED): An irrigation dam with fringing marsh set amid sugarcane production.

 

Umfalosi River (UR): The estuary of the river entering the sea near St Lucia.

 

St Lucia (SL): A complex of habitats including forest edge at Eden Park and the Igwalagwala Trail, plus Sand Forest on the coastal dunes.

 

Bonamanzi (BZ): A Game Park with scrub forest, open glades and a lake.

 

Mkhuze (MK): A 40,000 hectare Game Park with acacia scrub, savanna, woodland, pans and lakes. Unfortunately we visited on an extremely windy day!

 

Wakkerstroom (WK): Upland grasslands and rocky outcrops of the northern Drakensberg Mountains including the areas around Wakkerstroom itself, Dirkiesdorp, Daggakraal and the Fitklands Pan. Also wetlands near Wakkerstroom and the gardens and lakeside near the Wetlands Country House.

 

Crocodile River (CR): River forming the southern boundary of Kruger National Park.

Kruger National Park (KP): One of Africa’s largest national parks on the north-east border with Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It comprises a mixture of subtropical thorn scrub savanna, grasslands and wetlands with rivers cutting across east-west. Several camps are available and we stayed at Berg en Dal and Satara. We covered the southern and central sections. A good rainy season had made the grasses and bushes grow more than usual.

 

Abel Erasmus Pass (AE): An area of fst-flowing streams, steep gorges and cliffs en route from Kruger to Magoebaskloof. A renowned site for the rare Taita Falcon.

 

New Agatha Plantation (NA): A pine plantation near the larger Agatha Forest again en route to Magoebaskloof. A known site for roosting Bat Hawks.

 

Bramasole and Woodbush (BW): A combination of sub-montane forest  at Bramasole and Woodbush and the extensive gardens of Bramasole Guest House.

 

Polokwane (PK): Polokwane Game Reserve is an area of Kalahari savanna with acacia scrub and rocky kopjies. It contains several species of more westerly distribution.

 

Birds Recorded:

 

Species

Days

Max No

Sites

Common Ostrich

1

1

KP

Helmeted Guineafowl

7

6

Various

Crested Guineafowl

3

2

SL,BZ

Natal Francolin

5

6+

MK,KP,BW,PK

Swainson’s Francolin

3

30+

BZ,KP

Crested Francolin

4

5

KP,PK

Common Quail

2

H

WK

White-faced Whistling Duck

7

6+

SL,MK,CR,KP

White-backed Duck

1

1

ED

Spur-winged Goose

6

10

Various

Knob-billed Duck

1

3

KP

Egyptian Goose

10

50+

Various

South African Shelduck

3

2

FM,WK

African Pygmy-Goose

1

1

ED

African Black Duck

1

2

SP(Lower)

Yellow-billed Duck

6

10

Various

Cape Shoveler

1

2

WK(Fitklands)

Red-billed Teal

1

6

WK(Fitklands)

Hottentot Teal

2

2

FM,WK

Southern Pochard

2

2

FM,WK

Maccoa Duck

1

1

WK(Fitklands)

Little Grebe

3

20

SP,FM,KP

Hamerkop

3

1

SL,WK,KP

Pink-backed Pelican

1

1

MK

Reed Cormorant

4

10+

SP,MK,FM,WK

Species

Days

Max No

Sites

Great Cormorant

1

6+

MK

African Darter

3

50+

FM,MK,WK

Osprey

1

2

MK

Bat Hawk

1

2

NA

Black-shouldered Kite

5

3

SP,WK,BW,PK

Yellow-billed Kite

11

6+

Various

African Fish-Eagle

4

2

UM,SL,KP

Hooded Vulture

1

2

KP

White-backed Vulture

4

5+

MK,BZ,KP

Cape Griffon

2

20+

SP,KP,PK

Brown Snake-Eagle

3

2

KP,PK

Bateleur

2

2

MK,KP

African Marsh Harrier

2

3

FM,WK

African Harrier-Hawk

4

1

SP,MF,WK

Dark Chanting-Goshawk

1

1

KP

Gabar Goshawk

1

2

KP

Red-crested Korhaan

3

1

KP

Northern Black Korhaan

1

4

PK

Buff-spotted Flufftail

1

H

FM

Black Crake

1

H

WK

African Swamphen

1

1

MK

Eurasian Moorhen

4

5+

SP,FM,WK

Red-knobbed Coot

5

20+

FM,ED,WK

Grey Crowned Crane

5

25+

SP,FM,WK

Blue Crane

2

5

HG,WK

Water Thick-knee

5

10

BZ,MK,CR,KP

Spotted Thick-knee

1

2

KP

Black-winged Stilt

2

2

KP

Blacksmith Lapwing

6

10+

Various

Senegal Lapwing

4

6

BZ,KP

Crowned Lapwing

3

4

WK,KP

Wattled Lapwing

3

3

FM,WK

White-fronted Plover

1

1

SL

Three-banded Plover

3

4+

MK,PK

African Jacana

5

4

ED,SL,BZ,MK,KP

Common Greenshank

1

1

WK

Common Sandpiper

1

1

KP

Whiskered Tern

3

2

FM,WK

Rock/Feral Pigeon

8

20+

Various

Speckled Pigeon

5

10

UB,SP,WK,BW

Rameron Pigeon

4

10+

SP,DF,BW

Delagorgue’s Pigeon

1

4

DF

Lemon Dove

1

2+

DF

Mourning Collared Dove

1

1

BW

Red-eyed Dove

12

20+

Various

Ring-necked Dove

7

6+

Various

Species

Days

Max No

Sites

Laughing Dove

6

20+

Various

Emerald-spotted Wood-Dove

7

6+

SL,BZ,KP

Tambourine Dove

3

1+

OR,DF,BW

Namaqua Dove

3

10+

MK,KP

Brown-headed Parrot

2

5

KP

Livingstone’s Turaco

2

1+

SL

Knysna Turaco

3

10

OR,BW

Purple-crested Turaco

4

1+

BP,BZ,KP

Grey Lourie

4

5+

KP,PK

Burchell’s Coucal

2

3

OR,KP

Green Malkoha

2

2

DF,SL

Great Spotted Cuckoo

1

1

KP

Levaillant’s Cuckoo

2

1

KP,PK

Diederik Cuckoo

3

1

BZ,KP,PK

Klaas’s Cuckoo

3

1

SL,BZ,BW

African Emerald Cuckoo

3

1

SL,BZ

Red-chested Cuckoo

6

1+

MF,SL,KP

African Wood Owl

1

H

BW

Pearl-spotted Owlet

1

1+

PK

African Palm Swift

6

10+

Various

Alpine Swift

1

2+

SP

African Black Swift

1

6

SP

Little Swift

9

100+

Various

Horus Swift

1

1+

WK

White-rumped Swift

6

20+

Various

Speckled Mousebird

7

6

Various

Red-faced Mousebird

4

2

BZ,KP,PK

Narina Trogon

3

1

SL,BZ

Rufous-crowned Roller

1

6+

KP

Lilac-breasted Roller

3

10+

KP

European Roller

1

6+

KP

Grey-headed Kingfisher

1

1

KP

Brown-hooded Kingfisher

4

2

SL,BZ,BW

Striped Kingfisher

1

1

KP

Woodland Kingfisher

3

5

KP

Malachite Kingfisher

3

1

SP,FM,SL

Half-collared Kingfisher

1

1

SP (Lower)

Giant Kingfisher

1

1

BZ

Pied Kingfisher

6

2

OR,SL,MK,CR,KP

Little Bee-eater

2

2

MK,KP

White-fronted Bee-eater

2

6

SL,KP

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater

1

10

SL

European Bee-eater

3

6+

MK,BW,PK

Southern Carmine Bee-eater

2

3

KP

African Hoopoe

2

3

KP,PK

Green Woodhoopoe

2

2

SP,PK

Species

Days

Max No

Sites

Crowned Hornbill

2

2

SL

African Grey Hornbill

3

6+

KP

Southern Red-billed Hornbill

3

6+

KP

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill

3

2+

KP,PK

Trumpeter Hornbill

5

6+

UM,OR,BP,DF,SL,BZ

Southern Ground Hornbill

1

5

KP

White-eared Barbet

2

6

DF,SL

Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird

2

5

DF,SL

Red-fronted Tinkerbird

3

1+

BP,DF,BZ

Black-collared Barbet

7

4+

OR,BP,SL,WK,KP

Crested Barbet

3

1

MK,KP

Brown-backed Honeybird

1

1

PK

Lesser Honeyguide

1

1

BW

Rufous-necked Wryneck

2

1

SP,WK

Golden-tailed Woodpecker

2

2

SL,BZ

Ground Woodpecker

1

1

SP

Cardinal Woodpecker

2

1

KP,PK

Bearded Woodpecker

1

1

KP

Olive Woodpecker

2

2

SP,BW

Cape Batis

2

1

MF,BW

Woodward’s Batis

1

1?

SL

Chinspot Batis

5

2+

SP,MK,BZ,PK

Black-throated Wattle-eye

1

1

MK

Retz’s Helmetshrike

1

4

KP

Grey-headed Bushshrike

2

1

SL,KP

Olive Bushshrike

2

1+

SL,BW

Orange-headed Bushshrike

3

1

SL,BZ

Bokmakierie

2

1

UB,KP

Brown-crowned Tchagra

1

1

KP

Black-crowned Tchagra

1

1

PK

Black-backed Puffback

4

4

OR,SL,BZ,KP

Southern Boubou

6

1

UB,SL,BZ,BW

Crimson-breasted Gonolek

1

4

PK

Brubru

1

2

PK

Grey Cuckooshrike

1

2

DF

Black Cuckooshrike

1

1

PK

Magpie Shrike

4

6

KP,PK

Red-backed Shrike

6

4+

SL,BZ,KP,PK

Lesser Grey Shrike

1

1

PK

Southern Fiscal

8

30+

Various

White-crowned Shrike

1

1

KP

African Black-headed Oriole

4

1+

SP,MF,OR,KP

Square-tailed Drongo

4

2

OR,DF,SL,BW

Fork-tailed Drongo

8

10

Various

African Crested Flycatcher

1

1

SL

African Paradise Flycatcher

2

1

BZ,KP

Species

Days

Max No

Sites

Cape Crow

7

30+

Various

Pied Crow

9

20+

Various

White-necked Raven

1

5

SP

Drakensberg Rockjumper

1

3

SP

Fairy Flycatcher

1

1

SP

Southern Black Tit

4

2

BZ,KP

Ashy Tit

1

6+

PK

Grey Tit

1

1

SP

Southern Penduline-Tit

1

1

PK

Rufous-naped Lark

3

3

MK,KP,PK

Eastern Clapper Lark

1

2+

WK

Rudd’s Lark

1

2

WK

Sabota Lark

2

2

WK,PK

Eastern Long-billed Lark

1

1

WK

Short-clawed Lark

1

4

PK

Spike-heeled Lark

2

4

WK

Red-capped Lark

3

6+

SP,WK

Botha’s Lark

1

2

WK

Large-billed Lark

1

2+

SP

Dark-capped Bulbul

13

20+

Various

Sombre Greenbul

6

1+

MF,OR,SL,BZ,BW

Yellow-bellied Greenbul

4

10

OR,SL,BZ

Terrestrial Brownbul

4

6

MF,DF,SL,BZ

Yellow-streaked Greenbul

1

6+

BW

Black Saw-wing

4

2+

OR,SL,BW

Banded Martin

2

6+

SP,WK

Barn Swallow

13

100+

Various

White-throated Swallow

5

6

SP,HG,WK,KP

Wire-tailed Swallow

1

2

BZ

Blue Swallow

1

2

HG

Rock Martin

4

30+

SP,MF,WK,AE

Greater Striped Swallow

7

20+

Various

Lesser Striped Swallow

6

20+

Various

Rufous-chested Swallow

1

6+

PK

South African Cliff-Swallow

3

20+

WK

Cape Grassbird

3

2

SP,MF,WK

Cape Crombec

1

1

BZ

Yellow-throated Wood-Warbler

1

1

BW

Willow Warbler

2

2+

BZ,PK

Lesser Swamp-Warbler

2

4

FM,WK

African Reed-Warbler

2

1

WK

African Yellow Warbler

1

2

SP

Little Rush-Warbler

2

H

FM,WK

Barratt’s Warbler

2

2

SP,BW

Rattling Cisticola

3

5

MK,KP

Wailing Cisticola

1

2

SP (Lower)

Species

Days

Max No

Sites

Rufous-winged Cisticola

1

1

SL

Levaillant’s Cisticola

5

6

SP,MF,WK,BW

Croaking Cisticola

1

1

SL

Nedicky (Piping Cisticola)

1

1

SP

Zitting Cisticola

2

1

WK

Desert Cisticola

1

1

PK

Cloud Cisticola

1

H

WK

Wing-snapping Cisticola

1

1+

WK

Tawny-flanked Prinia

4

3+

DF,KP,BW

Black-chested Prinia

1

2

PK

Karoo Prinia

1

2

SP

Drakensberg Prinia

1

2

SP

Bar-throated Apalis

3

2+

MF,OR,BW

Rudd’s Apalis

1

2+

SL

Yellow-breasted Apalis

2

4+

SL,BZ

Green-backed Cameroptera

7

1+

Various

Barred Wren-Warbler

1

H

PK

Burnt-necked Eremomela

1

3

PK

Arrow-marked Babbler

2

5

KP

Bush Blackcap

1

2

SP

Chestnut-vented Warbler

1

2+

PK

Layard’s Warbler

1

2

SP

Cape White-eye

8

2+

Various

African Yellow White-eye

1

2

BZ

Gurney’s Sugarbird

1

6

SP

Common Myna

11

20

Various

European Starling

2

6

OR,SL

Black-bellied Glossy Starling

3

10

OR,BP,BZ

Cape Glossy Starling

4

5

BZ,MK,KP

Greater Blue-eared Glossy Starling

2

20+

KP

Burchell’s Glossy Starling

2

30+

KP

African Pied Starling

4

10+

SP,HG,WK

Violet-backed Starling

8

10+

Various

Red-winged Starling

6

20+

Various

Yellow-billed Oxpecker

1

1

KP

Red-billed Oxpecker

4

20

BZ,MK,KP

Spotted Ground-Thrush

1

1

DF

Groundscraper Thrush

1

2

PK

Kurrichane Thrush

1

1

DF

Olive Thrush

1

1

SP (Lower)

Karoo Thrush

2

2+

PK

Cape Robin-Chat

4

1+

UB,WK

White-throated Robin-Chat

1

1

WK

Red-capped Robin-Chat

1

2+

SL

Chorister Robin-Chat

2

1+

DF,BW

Bearded Scrub-Robin

2

1+

BZ

Species

Days

Max No

Sites

White-browed Scrub-Robin

2

1

KP,PK

African Stonechat

7

10

Various

Buff-streaked Chat

2

3

WK

Mountain Wheatear

3

4

SP,WK

Sicklewing Chat

1

10+

SP

Familiar Chat

1

2

SP

Southern Ant-eater Chat

4

100

HG,WK

Mocking Cliff-Chat

1

1

MK

Cape Rock-Thrush

1

1

SP

Sentinel Rock-Thrush

2

5

SP,WK

Southern Black flycatcher

1

2+

MK

Marico Flycatcher

1

5+

PK

Fiscal Flycatcher

1

1

PK

Spotted Flycatcher

3

1

MK,KP,PK

African Dusky Flycatcher

2

2

SP,BW

Collared Sunbird

2

2

SL,BZ

Eastern Olive Sunbird

2

2

BP,SL

Amethyst Sunbird

5

6

UB,BP,KP,BW

Malachite Sunbird

1

6

SP

Southern Double-collared Sunbird

2

1+

OR,BW

Greater Double-collared Sunbird

5

5

UB,OR,BP,BW

Mariqua Sunbird

1

6+

PK

Purple-banded Sunbird

3

2

SL,BZ,KP

Cape Wagtail

4

6+

SP,FM,WK

African Pied Wagtail

7

10

Various

Orange-throated Longclaw

3

10+

WK,PK

Yellow-throated Longclaw

2

1

BZ,KP

African Pipit

4

10+

MF,SL,WK

Mountain Pipit

1

5

SP

Short-tailed Pipit

1

1

SP

Bush  Pipit

1

1

KP

Yellow-breasted Pipit

2

2+

WK

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver

1

5+

PK

House Sparrow

11

10+

Various

Great Rufous Sparrow

1

1

PK

Cape Sparrow

4

20

UB,SP,WK

African Golden Weaver

2

10+

SL

Southern Brown-throated Weaver

1

5

UR

Lesser Masked Weaver

1

2+

KP

Southern Masked Weaver

6

50+

Various

Village Weaver

6

30+

Various

Forest Weaver

4

6

OR,DF,SL,BZ

Red-billed Quelea

7

‘00s

Various

Yellow-crowned Bishop

3

5

FM,WK,KP

Southern Red Bishop

8

50

Various

Yellow Bishop

3

4

SP,NA,BW

Species

Days

Max No

Sites

Fan-tailed Widowbird

5

10+

HG,WK

White-winged Widowbird

3

10+

WK,KP

Red-collared Widowbird

4

10

WK,KP

Long-tailed Widowbird

7

30+

Various

Blue-breasted Cordonbleu

3

2

MK,KP,PK

Violet-eared Waxbill

2

1

KP,PK

Swee Waxbill

1

4+

BW

Common Waxbill

2

6

BZ,WK

Grey Waxbill

2

2

BZ

Bronze Mannikin

4

4+

OR,DF,BZ,KP

Village Indigobird

2

1

BZ,MK

Variable Indigobird

2

1

BZ,MK

Pin-tailed Whydah

10

12+

Various

Eastern Paradise Whydah

3

10+

MK,BZ,KP

Parasitic Weaver (Cuckoo Finch)

1

1

WK

Cape Canary

3

10+

SP,WK

Forest Canary

1

1

OR

Black-throated Canary

2

2

WK

Lemon-breasted Seedeater

2

4+

BZ

Yellow-fronted Canary

8

10+

Various

Yellow Canary

1

5

SP

Streaky-headed Seedeater

2

2

UB,MF

Drakensberg Siskin

2

2+

SP

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting

1

4+

KP

Cape Bunting

3

10

SP,WK

Golden-breasted Bunting

4

4+

BZ,MK,KP,PK

 

 

Mammals Recorded:

African Elephant, Scrub Hare, Red Bush Squirrel, Smith’s Bush Squirrel, Chacma baboon, Vervet Monkey, Blue Monkey, Spotted Hyena, Yellow Mongoose, Slender Mongoose, Dwarf Mongoose, Egyptian (Large Grey) Mongoose, Meerkat, Black-backed Jackal, White Rhinoceros, Plains Zebra, Warthog, Common Hippopotamus, Cape Buffalo, Greater Kudu, Nyala, Bushbuck, Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, Blesbok, Common Tsessebe, Natal Red Duiker, Grey Duiker, Southern Reedbuck, Waterbuck, Grey Rhebok, Klipspringer, Impala, Giraffe, Sloggett’s Ice-rat

 

Reptiles Recorded:

Nile Crocodile, Leopard Tortoise, Natal hinged Tortoise, Marsh Terrapin, Spotted Bush Snake 

 

 



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