06 November 2009

Ngoye Forest…(KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa): October 13, 2009

We birded the morning and afternoon in two separate, far apart, patches of Afromontane forest. Although both technically forest the birding in each was markedly different. In the morning, after being thwarted the day before to try and get to Ngoye Forest, (an unscheduled visit brought about by how well we had done for birds the day before freeing up some extra time for exploration), we tried another route to Ngoye. With rumors of a new and improved road to the forest we gingerly made our way there, with no problems at all, and no sign of the need for a 4 x 4 vehicle, (which we did not have as this was an unscheduled visit). The funny twits to all this was we then found a brand spanking new highway all the way back after, making this traditionally difficult to access site now a piece of cake to get to! Our reason for coming here was simple: the very, very localized Woodward’s Barbet, a bird with a checkered taxonomic history, that some now consider part of the more widespread Green Barbet. We were unphased by that as Green Barbet or not this is a rare and local species in southern Africa. On getting to the forest unscathed (with an African Goshawk perched along the way), we soon found a number of Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, before finally and rather distantly we made out the sound of our quarry calling within the forest. As luck would have it we spied a narrow trail heading straight for our bird, and not long after we had brief but close views of this rare barbet. Unsatisfied I continued my quest for better views along the road as more of them piped up and began calling a little later. A short time after a huge Crowned Eagle glided over the canopy, I finally got cracking low down looks at the barbet, that unfortunately always remained in poor light or at a bad angle for a photo throughout (see photo). Good to see all the same though!

In the late morning we departed for Underberg, our base for exploring the spectacular Sani Pass and Lesotho the following day, with just enough time for some later afternoon birding in nearby Xumeni Forest

No comments: