CELEBRATING BIRDING IN ZULULAND - CARIN AND DAWID MALAN REPORTPosted on the 30th August 2018
(We are experiences problems with the posting of images at the moment, with the result that some might be far apart. Enjoy this photographic celebration by paging all the way down until you find the photograph of the Arrow-marked Babblers. A celebration of the interaction between Tawny Eagles and vultures will follow in a separate report to coincide with International Vulture Awareness Day on Saturday. - Ed.)
We just got back from an amazing trip to Zululand. We flew into Durban, rented a car and spent a few days in Mtunzini at an AirB&B, within an eco-estate. The estate has gorgeous hiking trails, as well as a bird hide. We had Woolly-necked Storks, African Palm Swifts and the Palmut Vulture flying over and every night we saw Fiery-necked Nightjars.
|Woolly-necked Stork - Dawid|
|Palmnut Vulture - Carin|
We spent a wonderful full day with Junior Gabela, a BLSA accredited bird guide. We were sooo impressed with his knowledge of the birds and area and his very high standard of bird watching ethics. …. of course we had a little wish list! We spent a lot of time in and around Mtunzini, visiting the Umlalazi Nature Reserve and the back road via Twinstreams and eventually finishing off at Amatikulu Nature Reserve. Ongoye and Dlinza Forest were left out as we had seen the Green Barbet, etc on a previous visit and we were pressed for time.
We arrived at Umlalazi Nature Reserve very early only to find some tourists already out and about, it was a long weekend! First up the bird that we have spent the most money on ever, 2 trips to Eastern Cape and a previous trip to Umlalazi: the Mangrove Kingfisher, TICKED !! It was sitting quietly in the mangrove forest watching the tide going out. Then we found one of the birds that has always fascinated us, just because it looks so different: the Green Malkoha. After a lot of hard hard work, we eventually saw glimpses of it twice, but not good enough for any photo’s sadly.
|Mangrove Kingfisher - Carin|
|Male Green Twinspot - Carin|
The other BIG one on the wish list was the African Finfoot: After driving a jeep track that only an “AVIS 4x4” can do, we eventually gave up, not even the fisherman had seen the “the duck with very red legs”! On our way back, with windows wide open we suddenly heard a “tsit, tsit” sound and Junior instinctively knew that these were Green Twinspots! We immediately stopped (to put it mildly) and were entertained by at least 6 individuals, feeding and just moving around, so relaxed. Further along the mangrove forest we were lucky to encounter the Black-throated Wattle-eye as well.
On our way to Amatikulu, we took the back road via Twin Streams and we were extremely lucky to get good views of a Southern Banded Snake Eagle on the dry branches of a eucalyptus tree, also a beautiful Palmnut Vulture, near the Raphia Palm trail. Once we reached Amatikulu, it was mid-day and hot already, but the possibility of Swamp Nightjar and better views of Green Malkoha made us push onwards. We were very blessed to flush the Swamp Nightjar and had beautiful views of it. We entered a wonderful forest walk all the way back to the unused camp site and at last after a lot of hard work, we had very good views of the Malkoha and even a record shot! We said our goodbyes to Junior, with 4 new birds in the bag. There is so much to be said about local bird guides, if you in the area do support him – JUNIOR is GREAT and can be contacted on 082 667 3704.
|Black-throated Wattle-eye - Dawid|
|Southern Banded Snake Eagle - Carin|
The next day we went back to Umlalazi Nature Reserve and again had gorgeous views of the Green Twinspots. A boardwalk took us all the way through the mangrove forest, finding our way back on the edge of the Mlalazi River when suddenly I saw a “duck with very red legs”! Huge excitement is an understatement … but sadly only a record shot: African Finfoot in the bag.
Onwards we pressed deeper into Zululand to Mkuze and the remarkable scenery of the Lebombo mountain range to spent another wonderful 4 days at a game reserve called Zimanga. Although more than 400 species have been recorded at Zimanga, the visit was more focused on improving our photographic skills. With six permanent hides, Zimanga is the ultimate destination for any safari photographer enthusiast. Under the wonderful unhurried guidance of Calvin Kotze, we learnt, laughed and had lots and lots of fun. After taking over 8,000 photographs we arrived home safely only to start dreaming to go again soon.
Dawid & Carin Malan
|Editor's choice - more on Tawny Eagles and vultures to follow in seperate report|
|Natal Spurfowl - Carin|
|The King and my tail - Carin|
|Spectacled Weaver - Carin|
|Near blind Hyena - Carin|
|Red-billed Queleas - Dawid|
|Yellow-fronted Canaries - Carin|
|Red-billed Firefinches - Carin|
|Buffalo pair - Carin|
|Red-billed Oxpecker - Dawid|
|Green-backed Heron - Carin|
|Lone bull - Carin|
|Black Crake family - Dawid|
|Pied Kingfishers - Dawid|
|Bronze Mannikins - Carin|
Arrow-marked Babblers - Carin