Right, I have just gone through the pics I have taken... and I am shocked If you don't at least have a lens with a F2.8 and a 400-500 mm lens... forget about taking any decent shots in those forests
Friday morning and the weather was overcast and drizzly when I reached the Polokwane Nature Reserve, but the birding was still very good.
Within the first 1KM I found a big birding party and found African Paradise Flycatchers, Scaly Throated Finch, Ashy Tit, Crimson Breasted Shrike, Voilet Eared Waxbills and Acacia Pied Barbets:
The common birds of this reserve is the latter and also White Browed Sparrow Weavers.
Other notable sightings were that of Black Throated Canary, Steppe Buzzard, Black Shouldered Kite, Grey Hornbill, Green Woodhoopoe, Rufous Naped Lark, Neddicky, European Roller and Amur Falcons and a Black Backed Jackal that watched me as I was walking back to the car.
Unfortunately I dipped on the Short Clawed Lark which was one of the target species of the weekend, but it is evident why this place is used as a destination for Big birding day, as the total number of species one can get here is quite high.
Arriving at the Magoebaskloof Birders Cottage at around 10:30 AM, I was totally amazed at the beauty of the area, and I basically threw my bag on the bed and went out for a walk through the farm... Biggest mistake of my life was to forget to put on mosquito repellent as within 10 minutes I had no less than 30 bites on my legs..
Walking through the forest, I realized what I had gotten myself into, and the birding got really difficult. I could hear them, but locating them was a mission. Luckily 2 lifers came quite easy as I found an Olive Woodpecker busy feeding on what it looks like some worms in a tree ..
I walked down the path and came across another bird party near a little stream and quickly found the Cape Batis which was very calm and relaxed with me.. The Paradise Flycatcher was wizzing over my head and a Bar Throated Apalis doing all kinds of poses
At around 12 I returned to the cottage as my legs were burning up from all the bites, enjoyed a little lunch on the stoepie and enjoyed watching the Cape White Eye's, Greater and Lesser Double Collared Sunbird, Black Saw Wing, Lesser Striped Swallow and Jackal Buzzard.
There was still much sunlight to burn and I decided to do the Forest drive (even though I was told it was in bad shape and need a serious 4x4)... Nothing my baby couldn't handle though
The Forest drive adventure..
And that is exactly what it is, an Adventure!
Wow, everything a man wants is packed into this road.. freedom, exploration, 4x4-ing, scenery, birds...
When I you first drive through the green desert (pine tree's) you actually get a perception that this is it... but as soon as you pass that sign that says "Forest Drive, 4x4 only" boy you are in for it...
All of a sudden the tree's start hugging you in, and it is almost like the sun disappears completely. The noise of the little waterfalls around every corner is deafening and the birding... geez like it... difficult isn't the word... finding a bird party was the best thing that could have happened as I saw Yellow Streaked Greenbul, Olive Woodpecker, Black Fronted BushShrike, Cape White eye, Square Tailed Drongo giving me another 3 ticks for the day.. but don't ask for photo's... this was the best I could manage of a Yellow Streaked Greenbul :lol:
The strange thing about the forest is that around one corner you can't even hear yourself think with the noise of birds and waterfalls, around the next you feel like you are floating in outer space so quiet it gets.. You always have the feeling like you are being watched, but can't see what is watching you :lol:
The 4x4 is not as hard as people warned me about... yeah sure you have some boulders in the road to dodge, and the odd mud pool here and there, but most of the time it is fairly easy going and I assume that just a high clearance vehicle would have sufficed.
Some scenery shots:
After the initail birding in the beginning of the road, it got a little quiet towards the middle section and only really started picking up again after visit to the Debengeni Waterfalls where after 30 minutes of searching, finally found two Mountain Wagtails in the streams...
Found another little birding party just after the Falls, and found another Square Tailed Drongo, Black Backed Puffback, Cape White Eye, Swee Waxbill, Grey Cuckooshrike with its awesome drawn out pheeeeeeeeeew call, and a Forest Buzzard in the dense Eucalyptus tree's..
(Note, that two Forest Buzzard was tagged and ringed about a week earlier apparently at the same spot, so it might a good spot to find them ?!)
I was exhausted after a lekker days birding and returned to the cottage and enjoyed a couple of beers and waiting for the Cape Parrots ... that never bloody arrived :lol: (dip number 2)
The next morning I was up at 4AM and packed my bags and needed to get to Kurisa Moya at 6AM.. I thought the first day was lekker driving, but I was in for a rude awakening as I had to go through Woodbush in the dark, with fog and only being able to see about 5 meters in front of you... safe to say that a 20km journey took me 90 minutes to complete :lol:
I did manage to get a glimpse of the rare and nocturnal bush pigs :D
Arrived at Kurisa Moya and the weather was rather depressing. Waiting for Paul to arrive the clatter of Sombre Greenbul's could be heard at the Farm House.
Once Paul arrived we quickly got underway for our walk. It was a morning where as Paul said "Too quiet today.." and we probably walked for about 30 minutes before hearin our first birds... it was a White Starred Robin, but we had no luck in finding him (Dipper) next up we heard a Knysna Turaco up in the tree tops.. After a good 20 minutes in trying to lure him out, nada. (dipper)
Luck was beginning to change as we found bit of a birding party and asw a Olive Thrush, Blue Mantled Crested Flycatcher and Chorister Robin-chat.
Again after this the forest was very quiet but the forest walk is just so beautiful and relaxing that one almost forget why you are there in the first place.. The pretty little streams, the dark undergrowth, the sliding and falling on your butt and the vines that you think are stable become loose and hit you on the head..
I think Paul just laughed on the inside checking this "stad japie" coming into his world.
After a good 30 minutes later we came across a massive bird party going crazy on the tree tops, and after a really long time of eyes adjusting we finally spotted the following : Square Tailed Drongo, Black Fronted Bush Shrike, Grey CuckooShrike, Yellow Throated Woodland Warbler, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Cape White eye, Bar Throated Apalis and Yellow Streaked Greenbul.
With me loosing count on the life list I never even knew that the Scaly Throated Honeyguide was lifer number 400. Mission accomplished.
We walked for a while still with only calls of the White Starred Robin haunting me in the background. We met up with David and Lisa and had a bit of a chat to them regarding the Twinspots, but they even said they haven't seen them in a while. (Dipper)
I spent the last couple of minutes relaxing at Lisa's house in front of her feeder and watched the Cape White Eye's, Dark Capped Bulbul and Sombre Greenbul fight each other off the peanut butter that was put out.
Great relaxing walk, and although I felt my calves haven't really seen exercise in a long time, it felt really good to have been so close to this gem of a place.
So a couple of birds that I missed out, but after consulting with David and Paul, they both agreed that the best time for most of the one's I missed was beginning summer around October when Narina Trogon are more vocal, as well as the Twinspots that are more frequently seen at the feeders.
On my way out I drove the stretch of road to the exit gate when I heard a bird call and I quickly got out to try and locate it.. I walked about 10 meters in front of my car, when I realized that it was another Yellow Streaked Greenbul, as I turned around I also realized that I had just walked by a big Black Mamba that was starring right at me... Suffice to say I nearly shat myself. Luckily he was very relaxed and just sailed away into the dense vegetation.
I would also just like to promote this little place that I stayed in for the Friday night called the Magoebaskloof Birders Cottage. It is situated on a beautiful little farm with a great view of a little waterfall and situated in prime Cape Parrot territory. Olive Woodpecker, Lesser Double Collared Sunbird, Cape Batis, Paradise Flycatcher are quite common here and one can take a relaxing stroll where sightings of Narina Trogon, Forest Buzzard and Barrats Warbler have been seen in the past.
The house has three bedrooms, and can accommodate 6-8 people easily, with a beautiful outside bath and shower, it can also be the perfect romantic birding weekend. The great thing about this place is that it is also relatively cheap compared to some of the other higher profile lodges.
Mark is a lovely host and has some wonderfull stories and sightings to share
» 2 Comments
at Monday, 01 March 2010 20:23
Really great report & photos Danie!
Looks very worth a visit.
at Wednesday, 18 August 2010 13:05
A lovely report, Daan!
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