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Ken Borland



Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve 0

Posted on January 19, 2018 by Ken

 

Blue Duiker

Blue Duiker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amidst the suburban bustle of East London, the Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve is a small oasis in which majestic Crowned Eagles can be spotted side-by-side with the more prosaic Hadeda Ibis.

In fact, when I visited the reserve in Beacon Bay, I was fortunate enough to see a Crowned Eagle, flying majestically low over the coastal forest, although it was seemingly being chased by a Hadeda, which was following right behind it!

Considering that Hadedas are actually amongst the Crowned Eagle’s favourite avian prey, it is way more likely that it was just an illusion of perspective and the Ibis would have been keeping its distance from the powerful raptor.

The favourite prey of the Crowned Eagle is Dassies and Blue Duiker, and there were lots of the little antelope around, easily spotted on the various paths through the forest.

The 77km long Nahoon River is the centrepiece of the reserve and an excellent boardwalk allows one to explore the tidal flats as well as Africa’s southern-most mangrove forest.

The river bank no doubt provides breeding sites for Black Saw-Wing Swallow, and a pair of these summer visitors were sailing above a clearing in the coastal forest, along with Lesser Striped Swallows. Forktailed Drongos stand guard on prominent perches, one of them having a weird double tail moult.

Forktailed Drongo with double tail-moult

Forktailed Drongo with double tail-moult

Whitebreasted Cormorant fly over along the estuary, with Tawnyflanked Prinia in bushes on the flats, Spottedbacked Weavers in the reeds and Goliath Heron and Little Egret patrolling the water’s edge.

There are rocky areas as well, while pristine forest is tightly packed on the dunes bordering the river and the Indian Ocean. Trails criss-cross this enticing habitat and a pair of Greenbacked Camaropteras were jumping around next to the path, while Terrestrial Bulbul kept to themselves in the thicker stuff.

Where is the Nahoon Estuary Nature Reserve?

 

Sightings list

Blue Duiker

Sombre Bulbul

Bronze Mannikin

Whitebreasted Cormorant

Forktailed Drongo

Laughing Dove

Redeyed Dove

Tawnyflanked Prinia

Black Saw-Wing Swallow

Crowned Eagle

Hadeda Ibis

Goliath Heron

Little Egret

Greenbacked Camaroptera

Terrestrial Bulbul

Lesser Striped Swallow

Spottedbacked Weaver

Cape White-Eye

Cape White-Eyes having a bath

Cape White-Eyes having a bath

 

Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve 0

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Ken

 

Nestled between the rampant development of Umhlanga Rocks is a little 26 ha sanctuary of coastal bush, a refuge for birds and small mammals amidst all the hotels and holiday homes that are mushrooming along the coast north of Durban.

The Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, with its coastal dune forest, reed beds, ponds and the Ohlange River’s lagoon and mouth, provides an ideal getaway for the public to spend a few hours reconnecting with nature, and there are plenty of interesting birds waiting to be discovered.

The Eastern Olive Sunbird is largely restricted to these coastal forests and it disappears readily into the thick foliage, it’s dark olive plumage lacking any of the metallic shininess of the other sunbirds.

But it makes up for this unobtrusive behaviour by being amongst the most vocal of all sunbirds, and, in a couple of hours spent in the Umhlanga Lagoon Nature Reserve, I managed to find four different individuals singing little “whit-peep” songs from inside the trees.

As charming as the reserve is though, one cannot help but be dismayed by the pace of development squeezing it from all sides; the difference between my January 2014 visit and my previous foray to Umhlanga in 2003 was stark.

A Purplecrested Lourie flew into a bare tree above the forest and seemed to look around anxiously, seemingly perplexed by all the development going on around the oasis of green.

Nevertheless, three species of Weaver can be found in the reserve, including nesting Yellow Weavers, and there were fleeting glimpses of Tawnyflanked Prinia, as well as a Slender Mongoose scampering away into the reedbeds, just proving the wide range of habitats these carnivores can inhabit.

Common Sandpiper and Pied Kingfisher are prominent along the lagoon, while there always seems to be a Goliath Heron around.

Thickbilled Weaver can either be found nesting in the reeds or foraging on the way back through the forest.

Sightings list

Cape Wagtail

Spottedbacked Weaver

Blackeyed Bulbul

Yellow Weaver

Tawnyflanked Prinia

Purplecrested Lourie

Eastern Olive Sunbird

Cape White-Eye

Sombre Bulbul

Southern Red Bishop

Slender Mongoose

Common Sandpiper

Pied Kingfisher

Blackheaded Heron

Goliath Heron

Hadeda Ibis

Bronze Mannikin

Thickbilled Weaver

 

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