Well all I can say is that Sirheni was a blast. We had brilliant birding and even better company.
Our team consisting of Niall and SO, , Washington Irvin, Swampie, Moegaai , Daniel and I set off from Joburg at 3 am on Thursday morning. We had our fist stop in Magoebaskloof at a spot where Niall had previously found Cape Parrot. When we arrived there were none there, so I turned my attention to finding a long time bogey Cape Grassbird. Well this is the time that one parrot decided to make its appearance and where most of the team could tick it off, I had no such luck.
On to Tzaneen where we had arranged with Skopsie to go and view the Magpie Mannikins in his garden. Skopsie, thank you again for your hospitality, even though he had to leave for an important appointment he gave us the roam of the garden for as long as we wanted and provided refreshments.
We had no luck on the Mannikin in the garden so went down to the little vlei just below his house. Finally after finding many other nice ticks we found our quarry, but arriving back at his garden there it was on the feeding tray. A good lifer for most of us.
On to the Phalaborwa gate, with the aim of finding Dusky Lark near Letaba, but just inside the gate we found one on the road. With this I added Steppe Eagle as lifer.
A long trip up to Sirheni also added Purple Indigobird and Yellowbilles oxpeckers.
After settling in we went down to the lapa to meet the other birders for the weekend. There were three groups totalling 41 birders, and it was nice to meet the other members of our group: Joel and Diane, Leonie2 and SO, Eugene123, JVR, his son, and a friend from St Anderton.
Birding the camp the following morning was a disappointment, but I think there were just too many people about. At least I got my final lifer for the weekend in Red-faced Cisticola.
From there we headed out to Punda, and had very good birding, with some great sightings of Pallid Harrier and Eurasian Golden Oriole.
Our team was in serious trouble when we got the afternoon drives time a bit mixed up with the morning drive and we were slightly late. But all was made up when one of us laggards spotted two Verreaux’s Eagle-owls in a tree in daylight. We had very nice supper at Shingwedzi, and set out for our night drive back to Sirheni.
Here I must also give thanks to Hennie our driver. The best guide I had so far met in the park. He really knows his stuff, and its thanks to him that some of the others found the location for the Thrush Nightingale and finally spotting it.
On the two night drives we easily added more Verreaux’s Eagle-owls, Spotted eagle owls, Barn Owl, Bronzewinged courser, Kurrichane Buttonqail, , Fierynecked, Squaretailed and European Nightjars. Not to mention the numerous snakes and chameleons.
Hennie said that he had only ever found Green-backed Cameroptera in the park, but the photos of the one found at the down chorus found him a Grey-backed Cameroptera.
The Purple Dusky Indigobird debate will also go on for a long time still, and Eugene, sorry for putting you on the spot with the European Roller, but I am glad that I did as the photos of the one we stopped for with the grasshopper was great.
European Roller tossing a grasshopper
Thanks team for a fantastic weekend!