Kirstenbosch Bird Walk – 12 March 2024 Led by Otto Schmidt.

Shortly after 8am, a group of about 40 eager birders, including a number of overseas visitors, both young and old, gathered just inside the turnstiles for the monthly bird walk. A cool, windless slightly cloudy morning was a huge relief after the exceedingly hot conditions of the day before.

As we entered the Gardens, an Olive Thrush in a bare tree on our left caught our attention, and Jacqui Smit, whose keen eyesight and hearing proved invaluable during the walk, soon picked out a Brown-backed Honeybird feeding amongst other similar-sized birds including Cape White-eyes and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds. An Amethyst Sunbird was also flitting about. A great start, and soon afterwards we were able to get a good sighting of a Cape Grassbird and enjoy its characteristic song. At the same time a Reed Cormorant, not a common bird in the gardens, flew in and landed on the edge of the large pond amongst the Egyptian Geese and Hadeda Ibis.
At the otter pond we turned right, then left, and soon spotted a family of Fork-tailed Drongos atop a tall tree, Black Sawwing swooping through low and a number of African Dusky Flycatchers showing well. The area of flowering ericas which had been full of sunbirds a few days earlier was surprisingly bare, but we did add Swee Waxbill, Karoo Prinia, Cape and Forest Canary.

As we continued up the Gardens, our only overhead raptor for the morning was identified as a dark-phase Booted Eagle. Cape Spurfowl, Common Waxbill and Malachite Sunbird also made it onto the list, with a Malachite female showing nicely.
Nearing our highest point, a single Brimstone Canary sat prominently on a silver tree, and we finally managed to add Orange-breasted Sunbird to the list with first a female nicely perched and then a young male bathing in one the small pools (topped up by the keen photographers) on the rocks next to the top path. By now several male Cape Sugarbirds had also made their appearance, and Speckled Mousebirds also obliged the photographers. Bar-throated Apalis called from within the shrubbery but did not show themselves, and after hearing Cape Batis several times, we eventually had a good view of a female at close range.

We combed the area under the Boomslang for a Lemon Dove, but without any luck. Some of the group did however have a brief view of an African Paradise Flycatcher. By this time we had had a number of good sightings of Sombre Greenbul, a nice surprise as this bird is always very vocal but often difficult to spot.
Nearing the end of the walk, we were very fortunate to spot a roosting Spotted Eagle Owl in a large tree near the Dell, the bird many visitors really want to see at Kirstenbosch. A male Malachite Sunbird still in its eclipse plumage also gave good views, and some folks had a better view than before of several Bronze Mannikins Some overflying Barn Swallows finished off a good morning’s walk, rather longer than usual, but quite productive with Jacqui’s list standing at 42 species.

Photographs by Daryl de Beer.

Report by Otto Schmidt.



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