The Lowvelder

Stunning morning of birding in the botanical garden

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MBOMBELA - BirdLife Lowveld (BLL) recently enjoyed a wonderful midweek outing to the Lowveld National Botanical Garden. Marc Cronje, a profession­al bird guide, told Lowvelder more about their adventure.

“With the temperatur­es dropping as we head into winter one would think that getting up early in the morning may not be the best idea, but the birding is still incredibly good in the Lowveld in winter.

“Our morning got off to a great start at the Grace Hall Bridge over the Crocodile River with a purple-banded sunbird singing over the river.

“We spent some time searching and were rewarded with great views of a stunning male feeding. Just as we finished admiring this beauty, I heard the typical high-pitched sibilant squeak call of a half-collared kingfisher.

“This stunning little bird posed wonderfull­y for us all to enjoy. At the same time we had an African black duck fly over the river.

“It landed briefly and then flew off; this stirred up the local mountain wagtails. What an amazing few moments of birding - who said winter did not offer great birding?

“The walk to the entrance of the garden rewarded us with sightings of a southern black tit, ashy flycatcher, green-backed camaropter­a, a little swift and a white-browed robin-chat. As we entered the forest section, we had a great sighting of an African goshawk, hunting.

“We enjoyed the views of the cascades in the garden. Some of the birds we saw were the bare-throated apalis, African pied wagtail, a reed cormorant and yellow-fronted canary. The mournful call of a grey-headed bushshrike led us away from the river towards the wooded section of the garden.

“As we looked for the bushshrike, the group was entertaine­d by a flock of gorgeous, purple-crested turacos feeding and hopping a few metres in front of us.

“The final treat for the morning came in the form of olive sunbirds feeding near the exit of the garden; it was entertaini­ng to watch these birds feeding and the males chasing one another around. This is a bird not too common in Mbombela, and the garden is one of the best places in the city to see them.

“We all enjoyed a wonderful morning the Lowveld, and it was well worth getting up early to enjoy the birds on offer in our area.”

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