Thursday, 10 February 2011

Nature's Valley via Addo - for a Chorister Robin and Cinnamon Dove

Thursday last week Anja and I drove to Addo via the Grootrivier valley (northern side of Baviaanskloof and Baviaans tourism's 'T3' route. We did a pentad (South African Bird Atlasing monitoring) on an unsurveyed section of the road close to the railway siding of Fullerton. It was eventful enough – flushing Sombre Greenbuls from the thickets, trying to sneak up on Grey-backed Finch-Larks and Namaqua Warbler, flushing off Booted Eagle, Rock Kestrel, Steppe Buzzard and a Fish Eagle.

Rock Kestrel in flight

Our ultimate destination for the day was the Rosedale Guest House just outside Addo town. Rosedale is an organic citrus farm, run by a charismatic and entertaining pair - Keith and Nondumiso. He is from Port Elizabeth and she from the old Transkei. In order to get married some 30 years ago under the apartheid regime, he was classified black at one stage, and she was classified 'honorary white'. After leaving in the pharmaceutical industry and starting citrus, they have now added hospitality to their list of achievements and their place is very nice. You can tell straight away its organic due to the large number of butterflies in the garden. Overall, very pleasant and highly recommended (not like the 'Reptile and Raptor' centre down the road at Lenmore – don't go there if you are into Reptiles or Raptors, but its okay if you're not).

After a tour of the organic orchard on the Friday morning we started our drive to Nature's Valley to meet up with the Lakes Bird Club for a bit of forest birding. Within minutes of arriving we were being shat on by Knysna Turacos – a token of good luck (so I told Anja anyway!). We had arrived early enough to do the Groot Rivier loop. By the way, this is a completely different Groot Rivier from the one we had driven along the previous day. The walk goes through one of the best preserved patches of South Africa's rainforest, with massive Yellow-wood trees.

The aim of the birding outing was to see Lemon (or Cinnamon) Dove and Chorister Robin. On arriving back to the campsite, we were greeted by both – the tame campsite Chorister Robin at one stage perching on my head while I tried to photo the slightly more wary Dove.

Immature Chorister Robin-Chat (Cossypha dichroa)

Lemon (Cinnamon) Dove (Aplopelia larvata)
The Saturday morning proved quite eventful. A pre-meet walk turned up some nice posing birds (see below). The group of about 15 of us were given an introductory walk by Geoff McIlleron, who was just launching his book 'Basic Bird ID' with club member Peter Ginn.

African Dusky Flycatcher (Muscicapa adusta)

Bar-throated Apalis (Apalis thoracica)

Green Wood Hoopoe (Phoeniculus purpureus)

Knysna Turaco (Tauraco corythaix)
Knysna Woodpecker (Campethera notata)
Olive Bush-Shrike (Telphorus olivaceus)

Black-backed Puffback (Dryoscopus cubla)

Sombre Greenbul (Andropadus importunus)

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