Eurasian Bittern at Mpempe Pan

Following the recent reports of some good birds in Northern KZN, Johan and Alison went up to Mpempe on Sunday 9th Feb and having dipped on the Lesser Gallinule at Muzi, went for the Eurasian Bittern (and Lesser Jacana) at the co-ordinates below. Dipped on the jacanas but after walking past the bittern once or twice and not seeing it, Johan managed to flush it and saw it well (as did Alison) but unfortunately no photos. The bittern was originally found by one of the local guides last week.
There is a club outing to Sand Forest lodge at Hluhluwe and I will go for one night and try and get the bittern then.
Directions for the Bittern (from SA Rare Bird Report):
400 paces or so due east of -27.86387 32.43223. The coordinates are for the bridge. Facing east from here you will see the marsh at 10 o’clock near the pan’s edge. For interest 200 m or so right of the same bridge is a very confiding pair of Lesser Jacana.
The co-ords are slightly off for the bridge, but if you look on GooglEarth you can clearly see the pan he is talking about. May be an idea to perhaps use the guide Themba Mthembu 0714133243
Paul Rollinson

Zululand Rarites

On 16 January, Andre Bernon reported a single Green Sandpiper from Thula Thula Game Reserve. This is a national rarity that pitches up most summers in Zululand. This bird has the habit of usually being seen in small roadside puddles but unfortunately they tend not stay in the area for a long time. Hopefully with all the recent rain more will be reported.

Green Sandpiper (Andre Bernon)

On 19 January, Andre Bernon reported the following birds from Umfolozi Game Reserve: African Crake and Bronze-winged Courser near Enselweni Bush Lodge, European Honey Buzzard and Harlequin Quil on Sontuli Loop.


White-backed Night-Heron breeding at Amatikulu

Mike Graham recently reported on SABirdNet that he had recent found a White-backed Night-Heron breeding along the northern bank of the Amatikulu River. He advises that the best way to find the bird and its nest is to hire the services of one of the local bird guides, Sakhamuzi Mhlongo (083 436 2252) or Junior Gabela (082 667 3704).

White-backed Night-Heron is renowned for being extremely elusive so this might be a good opportunity to find this bird. Please ensure that if you try find this bird, that you keep a good distance to ensure that you do not disturb it, especially since this bird is listed in in Red Data Book as vulnerable.

Golden Plover and Other Rarities at Mpempe Pan

On Sunday 14 January, Rusty Lupton, Johan Gouws, Alison Van Dyk and Patrick Rollison were able to reconnect with the Pacific Golden Plover on the grasslands around Mpempe Pan. This bird was first reported at Mpempe Pan on 4 January. The Pacific Golden Plover was seen loosely associated with a flock of Ruff.  The flock of Ruff were not easy to get close to so pictures of the Golden Plover were slightly distant.

Pacific Golden Plover (Patrick Rollinson)

Pacific Golden Plover (Rusty Lupton)

The grasslands around Mpempe was host to a vast number of birds despite most of the area being waterlogged with recent heavy rains. . The Caspian Plovers that were first reported on 24 November were still present in a small flock (8-10 individuals) that included a few male birds in full breeding plumage. These birds were very obliging and gave great photographic opportunity.

Caspian Plover (Rusty Lupton)

Caspian Plover (Rusty Lupton)

Caspian Plover (Rusty Lupton)

A large number of Senegal Lapwing, Black-winged Lapwing, Ruff and Kitlitz Plover were seen on the grassland as well as a few Wattled Plover and Blacksmith Plover. Also seen on the grasslands was a pair of Yellow Wagtails, which also gave some fantastic view and photographic opportunity.

Yellow Wagtail (Rusty Lupton)

Following the heavy rains the night before there was an eruption of flying ants that caused a number of birds to gather around the entrance flying ants holes. Birds seen hawking the flying ants included: Blue-cheecked Bee-eater, White-winged Tern, Collared Practincole, Yellow-billed Kite and best of all a single Black Kite, that give some great views. Black Kite is an uncommon bird in KZN.

Black Kite (Rusty Lupton)

Black Kite (Rusty Lupton)

Black Kite (Rusty Lupton)

Directions to Mpempe Pan can be found here

Ringing at Thulazihleka Pan

On Saturday 5 January, Dominic Rollinson and several other birdclub members did a few hours of ringing down at Thulazihleka Pan. Birds caught and rung included: several Brown-throated Weaver, several Yellow Weaver, a few Lesser Masked Weaver, 1 Thick-billed Weaver, 2 Lesser Swamp Warbler, 1 Willow Warbler, 1 Common Waxbill, 1 Malachite Kingfisher, 1 Red-capped Robin-chat, 1 Red-faced Cisticola and 1 Tawny-flanked Prinia.

Also seen at the pan was a large flock of Great White Pelican quite close to the main hide.

Lesser Masked Weaver (Patrick Rollinson)

Red-capped Robin-chat (Patrick Rollinson)

Yellow Weaver (Patrick Rollinson)

Thick-billed Weaver (Patrick Rollinson)

Brown-throated Weaver (Patrick Rollinson)

Brown-throated Weaver (Patrick Rollinson)

Willow Warbler (Paul Rollinson)

Lesser Swamp Warbler (Patrick Rollinson)

Common Waxbill (Patrick Rollinson)

Great White Pelican (Paul Rollinson)

Great White Pelican (Paul Rollinson)

Ringing at Thulazihleka Pan

Northern KZN Rarities

On 23 December, a Pacific Golden Plover was reported at Nibela (on the northern end of False Bay) in SA Rare Bird News by Digby Cyrus. This is a rare bird for Southern Africa. Also reported by Digby were at least 3 Chestnut-banded Plovers.

On 4 January, another Pacific Golden Plover was reported from the grasslands next to Mpempe Pan by James Harvey, Dominic and Patrick Rollinson. They also reported 3 Eurasian Honey Buzzards from woodlands along the road to Nibela.

Pacific Golden Plover (Patrick Rollinson)

Eurasian Honey Buzzard (Patrick Rollinson)

On 4 January, following the reports of the Pacific Golden Plover, Allan Ridley, Niall Perrins and Kevin Forsberg managed to connect with the bird at Mpempe as well as at least 8 Caspian Plover.

November Update

On Thursday 22nd, Dominic and Patrick Rollinson reported 3 Lesser Crested Tern at Cassurinas. This is perhaps the first report of Lesser Crested Tern at Cassurinas mudflatsfor this summer. A single Bar-tailed Godwit was also reported.

Lesser Crested Tern by Patrick Rollinson

On Friday 23rd, Dominic and Patrick Rollinson visited Nibela Pennisula and Mpempe Pan. At Nibela, they reported large numbers birds including both Lesser and Greater Flamingos, Great White Pelican, large numbers of waders that Common Greenshank, White-fronted Plover, Marsh Sandpiper, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint

Lesser Flamingo by Patrick Rollinson

On the grasslands at Mpempe Pan, many Black-winged Lapwings were seen as well as 5 Caspian Plover and several Senegal Lapwing . This sighting of Caspian Plover is almost exactly one year after they were reported at the same place. A single Yellow Wagtail, of flava race,was also reported on the grasslands near Mpempe Pan.

Caspian Plover with Black-winged Lapwing by Patrick Rollinson

Caspian Plover by Patrick Rollinson

Caspian Plover by Patrick Rollinson

Senegal Lapwing (Patrick Rollinson)

Yellow Wagtail (Patrick Rollinson)

On Saturday 24th, while doing their Birding Big Day, Ryan Bond, Rusty Lupton, Dominic, Paul and Patrick Rollinson reported the large number of birds at Nibela Peninsula as well as a number of Chestnut-banded Plover. At Mpempe Pan the 5 Caspian Plover and the Senegal Lapwing were again reported.

At Pongola Nature Reserve the following birds were seen; couple of Pearl-spotted Owl, Bennetts Woodpecker  Levailant’s Cuckoo and a small group of Red-billed Buffalo-weaver were found nesting near the water container at the campsite.

Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver (Patrick Rollinson)

On Sunday 25th, Dominic and Patrick Rollinson saw Eurasian Curlew and Sooty Tern at the Umfolozi River mouth following the report of Eurasian Oystercatcher on SA Rare Bird Report.




Weekend Update: 21 October 2012

This afternoon, Paul and Patrick Rollinson reported 34 Hottentot Teal at the Western Pan at Thulazihleka Pan, as well as a single African Marsh Harrier.

Hottentot Teal at Thulazihleka Pan

They also saw 117 Swift Tern, 7 Common Tern, 2 Sandwich Tern and 2 Caspian Tern at Cassurinas on this afternoon. A single adult Palm-nut Vulture was seen flying over as well an adult Osprey.  A small flock of White-faced Duck was seen on the beach at Cassurinas.

Goliath Heron with Sandwich, Swift and Common Terns

A small group of Swift Tern

A small flock of White-faced Duck

The Mangrove Kingfisher that has been present at Cassurinas since April was last reported two weekends ago.

Please ensure the you report any unusual, odd or out of place birds to Patrick Rollinson at 076 631 2414 (BBM Pin: 2A1DDD54) so that other birders may have the opportunity to see your find.

Remember that if you have a cell phone that can receive emails, you can receive these posts as emails by subscribing to the posts on the home page.


Patrick Rollinson


Sooty Tern at Umfolozi Mouth

On Wednesday afternoon, Digby Cyrus reported a single adult Sooty Tern at the Umfolozi Mouth following last weeks reports of the Franklin’s Gull. This is possible the same individual that pitched up for a few weeks at the end of last year.

This afternoon, Johan Gouws and Rusty Lupton reported that the Sooty Tern was still present at the mouth and showing well.

Sooty Tern (Johan Gouws)

Sooty Tern (Johan Gouws)


Zululand Round-up

In late June SA Rare Bird News Report noted single adult Swallow-tailed Bee-eater  located in Mkhuze Game Reserve. This is the first record of Swallow-tailed Bee-eater since the start of SABAP 2.

On Sunday 8 July at 13h00 a breeding plumage Franklin’s Gull was found at the Umfolozi river mouth by Robbie McDonald and reported on SA Rare Bird News Report. The bird was seen again on Wednesday by Marc Lindsay-rea. This in national rarity with only a handful pitching every year.  Efforts to see the bird on Friday and Saturday were unsuccessful but a African Black Oystercatcherwas found along the beach at the Umfolozi river mouth. This is an uncommon bird for the KZN coastline.

African Black Oystercatcher (Kim Cox)

On Monday and Tuesday (9 and 10 July) a single Ayres’ Hawk-eagle was reported from Mtunzini and on Tuesday another bird was from Amatikulu Nature Reserve (possible the same individual).

On Tuesday 10 July Johan Gouws found 7 Greater Flamingos at Thulazihleka Pan. This is the first record of them back at the pan in a number of years so hopefully more will come.

On Saterday 14 July an adult Rock Kestrel was reported on the loop road near Cape Vidal by Paul and Patrick Rollinson. It was seen hunting in the open grassland which is quite outside its usual habitat. A  Side-striped Jackal was also seen in the grassland.

On Sunday 15 July, Johan Gouws and others managed to find a single Mangrove Kingfisher at Casuarinas. It has been a few weeks since it was last reported there.

Mangrove KIngfisher (Johan Gouws)