Posted on the 26th January 2015


(Richard Masson again sent a great trip report with some interesting identification problems on terns and cisticolas to ponder about. I have thrown in one of my images of a Grey-backed Cisticola – we would love to hear your opinions on this one. Try to id the birds in this report - send your entries by e-mail to Anton at by Friday 30 January. Bottle of wine to the winner. - Ed.)

We attended a family wedding in Paradise Beach on the weekend of 10 January 2015 and I was able to sneak in a few hours of birding on 2 of the mornings. We stayed in Port St Francis and with the different habitats, the area was very rewarding. The following is a brief photo essay and illustrates the diversity of birds seen:

Krom River Estuary

Terns (Common, Sandwich and Swift), Waders (Grey Plover, Whimbrel, Sanderlings and the small plovers), Oystercatchers and normal gulls. We were in Dearly Beloved’s car and I had forgotten my binoculars in my bakkie and so was not able to scan properly the birds there, other than through the camera lens.
















Seekooi Rivier Estuary and Paradise Beach

A tiny tern which I will need help identifying and a Levaillant’s Cisticola. This latter bird actually landed on the passenger window for 2 seconds, so inquisitive was it in response to playback. Also on this stretch, cormorants, pelicans, spoonbills and a wide variety of waterfowl. In the adjacent thickets and trees, Burchell’s Coucal, Black-headed Oriole and a pair of dark morph Jacobin Cuckoo.

In a wetland in Paradise Beach, most waterfowl and interestingly an African Jacana and 20 odd South African Shelduck.

The Yellowwood Forest in Hankey did not live up to the write-up in the Robert’s Bird App. This was just after the last weekend of school holidays which might have account for the mess the place was in – I think there was more plastic in the river than water. The most prominent birds were a couple of Yellow-billed Kites scavenging round the picnic site which tells a story in itself. The yellowwoods, however, are magnificent. I did find Collared Sunbird which was one of my target species.
















The best though was in the farm land (and private game farms) between St Francis and Jeffery’s Bay. Cisticola, larks and longclaws abounded. Amur Falcons were seen twice, once mid- morning when they hovered kestrel-like over fallow lands and swooped down to prey on what looked like grass-hoppers. Jackal and Steppe Buzzard were common. Denham’s Bustard were present on both occasions. Interestingly, the birds were amongst rhino, sable and eland etc. which one did not expect this close to the sea.









The cisticolas I have provisionally identified according to their response to playback. The Levaillant’s and Cloud Cisticola do not present ID problems but the Lazy and Wailing Cisticola I am not sure of. These birds responded aggressively to playback and as you can see from the photos, came within 2 or 3 metres of the car. However, on reviewing them they could easily be Grey-backed Cisticola although instinctively in the field, I discounted Grey-backed, as they did not resemble those we have in the Overberg which we see frequently. This is one of those times you want to go back and retry all the birds. They are that abundant that I think you would find them all again. I relied also on Roberts which listed the 4 cisticolas only for this site.

We had a wonderful wedding celebration and it is always a bonus to have some successful birding to go along with the festivities.


























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