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Umbogavango Nature Reserve Outing

BirdLife Port Natal

Report by Adam Cruickshank

Saturday 5 January 2019

On Saturday the 5th January, once we had done the necessary security checks at the gate, 19 people had turned up for the first club outing of the year. The skies were sunny with not much wind to speak of, which promised a good mornings birding.

We decided to split into two groups, with Elena Russell leading the one group and Tyron Dall leading the other group.

As an Amanzimtoti local it is always exciting when the club outing is at Umbogavango Nature Reserve. A time when we get to show off this great little birding location. This small reserve bordering Southgate Industrial park may have lost a little of its former glory, with bird numbers seeming to be lower since Galleria Mall has been built, but still makes for a good mornings birding.

Highlights from the day were a Diderick…

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Raptor death in the Pentlands: a bit of back story

Hills of Hame

You may already have read news reports of adead peregrine falcon found in the Pentland Hills. Over the last few years, I have been lucky enough to see peregrines in the Pentlands, which are my Hills of Hame.

I was the person who came across the dead bird while out helping to supervise a group of young people on a hill-walking expedition, in what is indeed a busy, well-travelled area of the Pentlands. The corpse was on a narrow path above the main path, as shown in the photographs taken by Keith Donnelly used on the BBC and other sites.

IMG_20180524_135313 The scene as I found it looking back up the path. Note GPS on rucksack to help my collect of location information

I have contributed finds of dead raptors, usually roadkill, to the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Predatory Bird Monitoring Scheme for several years. However…

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Gone Fishing


I was fortunate to stumble upon this immature great blue heron while it fished.  Here its ruffling its feathers getting ready for the task.


In the short time I was there it caught five fish in about ten minutes!


It waded out into the deep water then spread its wings and chased the fish into the shallows where they were easy prey.


Got another one!


Thanks for the fishing tips 🙂

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So Blue


I hate to admit it, but I have always had a hard time photographing blue jays.  For such a common bird, found in almost everyone’s back yard, you would think getting a good pic would be a slam dunk.  Nay, not for me.  They don’t visit my bird feeder at home even though almost a dozen other species regularly do, and when I encounter them in the wild they flee from me like the plague.  So I was pleased when this jay perched a mere twenty feet from me (you see him checking me out) then came to the same conclusion every other one of his breed inevitably do and promptly ditched me for the security of the forest.  I try not to take it personally, but after a while a guy begins to wonder.  Well at least I snapped this one nice shot, and of course there’s always tomorrow.

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