A Twitch Bus Adventure – A Parting Gift (Part 3)

While our trip had seen us awake at completely unreasonable hours, it was decided that we wouldn’t be rushing out on Saturday, and instead we’d take it easy. We still wanted to hit the road in the morning though, as we’d be starting our venture back to Cape Town. While everyone else enjoyed their breakfast, I spent our last hour in Emepangeni walking around the suburban neighbourhood looking to increase my life list. The first new bird for me was that of an African Palm Swift, as several individuals flew over Dom’s place. There was also talk of Trumpeter Hornbills in the area which tended to pass through the gardens nearly every day.

African Palm Swift
African Palm Swift
Common Myna
Common Myna
Trumpeter Hornbill
Trumpeter Hornbill
Trumpeter Hornbill
Trumpeter Hornbill
Spectacled Weaver
Spectacled Weaver

I walked around the block, taking pictures of some of the Mynas (I’m from the Cape, okay). While doing so, I also got sightings of the Cape White Eyes, which are up for a potential split in future, with these individuals perhaps taking the name Green White Eye at some point. In the area where also a large number of Black Collared Barbets, in fact more than 6 of them moved between the houses, at one point all lined up on a single gate.

Sure enough, a few minutes later we had the Trumpeters showing well, as they moved between the trees in surrounding gardens. Not a bad bird to have as a garden bird.

The Departure

By around 9:30 we were packed up and back in the twitch bus, on our way back to Cape Town, but not without a few stops along the way.

On route I got my first views of a Wooly Necked Stork on a small field along the roadside.

Our first stop was at a nature reserve just outside of Empangeni, where we were targeting Short-Tailed Pipit which was reporting in the area last year. Upon exiting the vehicle, we were greeted with a number of species in the area of woodlands along our path. A Yellow-Bellied Greenbul, Red-Fronted Tinkerbird and Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbird were the first to welcome us, with a Red-Capped Robin Chat calling from deeper within the trees.

Several Dark-Backed Weavers also perched themselves in the trees above us, giving me quite decent views of another new bird.

Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbird
Yellow-Rumped Tinkerbird
white-eared-barbet
White Eared Barbet
Red-Fronted Tinkerbird
Red-Fronted Tinkerbird
blue-mantled-crested-flycatcher
Blue Mantled Crested Flycatcher

Emerging out of the shaded woodland area, we arrived at a series of hills where the grass was in excess of knee high. This area was where we’d be searching for for the Pipit at, though given the good rains this year, the grass was evidently longer than it was the year previous; it didn’t really look like Pipit habitat. However, we gave it a go, forming a line and walking through the unknown. Alouise had a close encounter with a suspected snake, as it moved away from her through the grass. Prior to our walk Dom had mentioned we also stood a chance to maybe come across a Square-Tailed or Swamp Nightjar in the area.

About 5 minutes into the walk, I was startled by something flying out from right under my feet. I managed to snap a few photographs of it in flight, as it flew away from us, which was sufficient to ID it as a Square-Tailed Nightjar, a nice new lifer for myself.

Ruddy Hard Work

We eventually finished our walk without collecting a Short-Tailed Pipit and instead just collected a large amount of ticks in the process.

Moving to the pathways we continued on, encountering a few new species along the way. The calls of a Rudd’s Apalis came from within the dense brush on our right, while we also had visuals of a White-Eared Barbet and Ashy Flycatcher in front of us. While trying to get visuals on the Rudd’s, which was playing a little hard to get, we also got sightings of a young Gorgeous Bushshrike. Finally the Rudd’s played ball and gave us a couple views before disappearing into the bushes again. This was also Alouise’s 600 Southern African bird, as we later determined in the car.

On route back to the car — in the woodlands area — we also had views of Blue-Mantled Crested Flycatcher and those of an Olive Bushshrike.

Our Final Gift

One final stop on our way back home would be the sewage works in Martizberg. A reliable Lesser Jacana would be our target, and the final bird we would chase before leaving for Cape Town (even though we were already technically trekking back south).

Long Crested Eagle
Long Crested Eagle
jacana-lesser
Lesser Jacana
jacana-lesser
Lesser Jacana

Upon arriving at the area, we had a beautiful Long Crested Eagle in a nearby tree. Though I couldn’t get too distracted, we had a bird to find. We began scanning each pan, with mostly the usual suspects being seen, a single African Jacana near the front of the pan, with a large number of Egyptian Geese and Blacksmith Lapwings near the further end of the pond. Among these birds were also a pair of Blackwinged Lapwings, which was a first for me.

A couple of Fan-Tailed Widowbirds also moved through the area, adding to my life list.

Despite fairly extensive scanning, we were beginning to feel our motivation meters wearing down, will we get it?

Then Alouise calls, “I’ve got it! Moving in the middle reeds to the right”

The bird disappeared as quickly as it had appeared in the first place, with no one else getting on it yet. Then Dom manages to catch a quick glance…

Michael and myself moved along the outside of the pan, joined later by Kier. We were still struggling to see anything, when suddenly… A touch of movement from within the thick grass on the center island, the bird showed himself for a second or two before disappearing. But it was enough for a couple record shots and a bit of a celebration. The Lesser Jacana can be quite a tricky bird to get in South Africa.

In Closing…

Despite us now being on our way back to the Cape, about an hour later on the road we got sightings of a Crowned Eagle flying directly over the road in front of us. A first for the trip, and a bird I was really hoping to connect with.

The trip back to the Cape was long, and by 3am — with no sleep — I was beginning to see and hear things that weren’t necessarily there… I would drift in and out of 5 second sleep cycles and couldn’t keep my eyes open for more than a couple seconds. Shamefully, I never took the wheel of the car during this trip, so will have to make up for it the next time. Driving a new vehicle, on new roads that I’ve never been on was a little bit daunting and the times where I did feel comfortable on the roads, I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

With my sleep deprivation aside, the trip was overall an amazing success. We managed to get 2 of our 3 rare bird targets and everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves. I got to experience birding that I would never have gotten to experience any time soon without the help of those involved, and with it I saw my life list rise by almost 60 species.

We recorded over 160 species over the 3 days.

0. White-necked Raven, 2017-06-14 17:15
1. Southern Black Korhaan, 2017-06-14 17:18
2. Pied Starling, 2017-06-14 17:19
3. Cape Sparrow, 2017-06-14 17:22
4. Pale Chanting Goshawk, 2017-06-14 17:26
5. Hadeda Ibis, 2017-06-14 17:27
6. Common Myna, 2017-06-15 06:42
7. Speckled Pigeon, 2017-06-15 06:43
8. House Sparrow, 2017-06-15 06:43
9. Village Weaver, 2017-06-15 06:43
10. Pied Crow, 2017-06-15 06:44
11. Cape Crow, 2017-06-15 06:53
12. Spur-winged Goose, 2017-06-15 07:12
13. Grey Crowned Crane, 2017-06-15 07:12
14. Western Cattle Egret, 2017-06-15 07:26
15. White-breasted Cormorant, 2017-06-15 07:44
16. Black-winged Lapwing, 2017-06-15 07:51
17. Giant Kingfisher, 2017-06-15 07:52
18. Long-crested Eagle, 2017-06-15 09:36
19. Black-headed Heron, 2017-06-15 09:58
20. Tawny-flanked Prinia, 2017-06-15 11:35
21. Black-collared Barbet, 2017-06-15 11:52
22. African Pipit, 2017-06-15 11:52
23. White-backed Vulture, 2017-06-15 11:52
24. Pin-tailed Whydah, 2017-06-15 11:55
25. Fork-tailed Drongo, 2017-06-15 11:55
26. White-crested Helmetshrike, 2017-06-15 11:58
27. Southern Black Flycatcher, 2017-06-15 12:01
28. African Hoopoe, 2017-06-15 12:03
29. Green Wood Hoopoe, 2017-06-15 12:03
30. Orange-breasted Bushshrike, 2017-06-15 12:04
31. Brown-hooded Kingfisher, 2017-06-15 12:06
32. Village Indigobird, 2017-06-15 12:13
33. Wattled Starling, 2017-06-15 12:13
34. Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, 2017-06-15 12:13
35. Yellow-fronted Canary, 2017-06-15 12:14
36. Golden-tailed Woodpecker, 2017-06-15 12:17
37. Yellow-throated Petronia, 2017-06-15 12:19
38. Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, 2017-06-15 12:23
39. White-bellied Sunbird, 2017-06-15 12:23
40. Quailfinch, 2017-06-15 12:23
41. Pink-throated Twinspot, 2017-06-15 12:27
42. Laughing Dove, 2017-06-15 12:36
43. Red-faced Mousebird, 2017-06-15 12:38
44. Rattling Cisticola, 2017-06-15 12:39
45. Grey-headed Gull, 2017-06-15 12:46
46. Cape Glossy Starling, 2017-06-15 12:47
47. Dark-capped Bulbul, 2017-06-15 13:02
48. Blue Waxbill, 2017-06-15 13:03
49. Golden-breasted Bunting, 2017-06-15 13:04
50. Southern Fiscal, 2017-06-15 13:11
51. African Stonechat, 2017-06-15 13:12
52. Namaqua Dove, 2017-06-15 13:15
53. Zitting Cisticola, 2017-06-15 13:16
54. Martial Eagle, 2017-06-15 13:24
55. Long-billed Crombec, 2017-06-15 13:34
56. Black-backed Puffback, 2017-06-15 13:34
57. White-browed Scrub Robin, 2017-06-15 13:37
58. Bronze Mannikin, 2017-06-15 13:52
59. Yellow-throated Longclaw, 2017-06-15 13:52
60. Southern Black Tit, 2017-06-15 14:07
61. Sombre Greenbul, 2017-06-15 14:11
62. Purple-crested Turaco, 2017-06-15 14:13
63. Red-billed Oxpecker, 2017-06-15 14:26
64. African Darter, 2017-06-15 14:26
65. African Spoonbill, 2017-06-15 14:30
66. Green-backed Heron, 2017-06-15 14:30
67. Malachite Kingfisher, 2017-06-15 14:32
68. Goliath Heron, 2017-06-15 14:33
69. Little Egret, 2017-06-15 14:33
70. Blacksmith Lapwing, 2017-06-15 14:34
71. Pied Kingfisher, 2017-06-15 14:35
72. African Jacana, 2017-06-15 14:39
73. Malagasy Pond Heron, 2017-06-15 14:45
74. Reed Cormorant, 2017-06-15 14:45
75. Yellow-billed Stork, 2017-06-15 15:06
76. African Pied Wagtail, 2017-06-15 15:37
77. Crowned Lapwing, 2017-06-15 16:45
78. Helmeted Guineafowl, 2017-06-15 16:48
79. Black-crowned Tchagra, 2017-06-15 16:53
80. Natal Spurfowl, 2017-06-16 06:43
81. Tawny Eagle, 2017-06-16 06:46
82. Cape Turtle Dove, 2017-06-16 06:49
83. Green-winged Pytilia, 2017-06-16 06:53
84. Brubru, 2017-06-16 06:56
85. Grey-headed Bushshrike, 2017-06-16 07:08
86. Red-eyed Dove, 2017-06-16 07:26
87. Hamerkop, 2017-06-16 07:50
88. Arrow-marked Babbler, 2017-06-16 07:52
89. Cardinal Woodpecker, 2017-06-16 07:54
90. Greater Honeyguide, 2017-06-16 07:55
91. Common Buttonquail, 2017-06-16 08:02
92. Little Sparrowhawk, 2017-06-16 08:16
93. African Goshawk, 2017-06-16 08:16
94. Three-banded Plover, 2017-06-16 09:55
95. Striped Kingfisher, 2017-06-16 10:12
96. Bateleur, 2017-06-16 10:19
97. Southern Boubou, 2017-06-16 10:20
98. Green-backed Camaroptera, 2017-06-16 10:28
99. Yellow-breasted Apalis, 2017-06-16 10:28
100. Black-headed Oriole, 2017-06-16 12:02
101. Amethyst Sunbird, 2017-06-16 12:10
102. Bar-throated Apalis, 2017-06-16 12:45
103. Common Waxbill, 2017-06-16 12:54
104. African Cuckoo-Hawk, 2017-06-16 13:02
105. Scarlet-chested Sunbird, 2017-06-16 13:27
106. Kurrichane Thrush, 2017-06-16 13:33
107. Red-capped Robin-Chat, 2017-06-16 13:33
108. Brown-crowned Tchagra, 2017-06-16 13:35
109. Speckled Mousebird, 2017-06-16 13:36
110. Acacia Pied Barbet, 2017-06-16 13:40
111. Chinspot Batis, 2017-06-16 13:48
112. Spectacled Weaver, 2017-06-16 13:48
113. Black Cuckooshrike, 2017-06-16 13:50
114. African Wattled Lapwing, 2017-06-16 13:56
115. Burchell’s Coucal, 2017-06-16 16:10
116. African Black Swift, 2017-06-16 16:14
117. Common House Martin, 2017-06-16 16:14
118. Crested Francolin, 2017-06-16 16:36
119. Common Quail, 2017-06-16 17:11
120. Red-billed Teal, 2017-06-16 17:11
121. Yellow-billed Duck, 2017-06-16 17:11
122. Little Swift, 2017-06-16 17:12
123. Lesser Swamp Warbler, 2017-06-16 17:12
124. African Palm Swift, 2017-06-17 07:12
125. Trumpeter Hornbill, 2017-06-17 07:12
126. Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, 2017-06-17 07:25
127. Woolly-necked Stork, 2017-06-17 08:37
128. Black-bellied Starling, 2017-06-17 08:53
129. Thick-billed Weaver, 2017-06-17 08:53
130. Yellow-bellied Greenbul, 2017-06-17 08:53
131. Red-fronted Tinkerbird, 2017-06-17 08:53
132. Collared Sunbird, 2017-06-17 08:54
133. Olive Sunbird, 2017-06-17 08:55
134. Dark-backed Weaver, 2017-06-17 08:57
135. African Firefinch, 2017-06-17 09:01
136. Red-billed Firefinch, 2017-06-17 09:08
137. Square-tailed Nightjar, 2017-06-17 09:26
138. Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, 2017-06-17 09:26
139. Grey Sunbird, 2017-06-17 09:39
140. White-eared Barbet, 2017-06-17 09:48
141. Ashy Flycatcher, 2017-06-17 09:50
142. Rudd’s Apalis, 2017-06-17 10:08
143. Black Saw-wing, 2017-06-17 10:26
144. Tambourine Dove, 2017-06-17 10:37
145. Gorgeous Bushshrike, 2017-06-17 10:54
146. Olive Bushshrike, 2017-06-17 10:54
147. Crowned Eagle, 2017-06-17 12:44
148. Familiar Chat, 2017-06-17 13:40
149. Cape Teal, 2017-06-17 13:43
150. Brown-throated Martin, 2017-06-17 13:46
151. Little Rush Warbler, 2017-06-17 13:47
152. South African Shelduck, 2017-06-17 13:48
153. Southern Red Bishop, 2017-06-17 13:48
154. Red-faced Cisticola, 2017-06-17 13:50
155. Common Moorhen, 2017-06-17 13:51
156. Little Grebe, 2017-06-17 13:55
157. Red-knobbed Coot, 2017-06-17 13:55
158. African Sacred Ibis, 2017-06-17 14:01
159. Levaillant’s Cisticola, 2017-06-17 14:11
160. Lesser Jacana, 2017-06-17 14:11
161. Fan-tailed Widowbird, 2017-06-17 14:26
162. Cape Wagtail, 2017-06-17 14:27
163. Hottentot Teal, 2017-06-17 14:31

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Bryn De Kocks

Bryn is a passionate and opinionated antinatalist and naturalist with a love for nature, the ocean, photography, severe weather and music. He spends most of his time looking for new birds within the Western Cape, taking landscape photographs or behind his computer being a nerd.

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