06 November 2009

Onto Eshowe…(KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa): October 12, 2009

This was another day where we popped in and out of a number of places, and habitats, now fine-tuning what we were targeting at this late stage of the tour. Our morning began as dawn brightened the skies, in Dhlinza Forest, a fragment of Afromontane forest, in the heart of Zululand. We began by birding a narrow forest trail that wormed its way through the forest to the centerpiece of the reserve: the so-called Aerial Walkway, otherwise known as a canopy walkway that leads to a 20-metre high canopy tower looking over the treetops. Before we got up in the trees though we walked into a Spotted Ground-Thrush tussling with a worm on the dark forest floor, in the middle of our chosen trail (see photo). We also got some far from satisfactory views of Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeons in the mist, although much better views of a party of White-eared Barbets. Once we got up on the tower we were hit with a short, but dramatic lightning storm, which led all but me (probably sensibly) to retreat below and off the metal structure. However, it soon passed and we scanned over the trees to find a much better pair of Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeons, a bunch of Trumpeter Hornbills and a glamorous African Emerald Cuckoo. In the afternoon we checked around Mtuzini, where we found our only Broad-billed Roller of the trip and picked up a pair of Palm-nut Vultures (see photo). We also bumped into a young Green Twinspot in the area, looking far from what the impressive adult would look like! (Rare and difficult to find all the same though).

After a lunch where we were greeted by Purple-crested Turacos and Black-collared Barbets in the garden we made our first and unsuccessful attempt to make it to Ngoye Forest but ran into a rather large swollen river blocking our way. We were forced to retreat to Eshowe for the night and re-think our plans...

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