06 November 2009

St. Lucia Part 1: Birds…(KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa): October 11, 2009

The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park is an extremely diverse area of varied habitats, that contains a mosaic of woodlands, coastal forests, grasslands, and nationally important wetland areas. This diversity in habitats leads to an interesting mix of birds and animals too, and we experienced a great day dipping in and out of the various habitats picking up birds and game as we went. First for the birds though…We began our day, pre-breakfast, in coastal forest looking for particular specialties of this zone. Luckily they were not too hard to find, and we got some real “stonkers” even before our first meal of the day. This included the lime-green, punk-haired Livingstone’s Turaco sharing the same grove of trees with a male Woodward’s Batis. Also before our hearty cooked breakfast back in town was one of the raptor finds of the trip, and a lifebird for all, a Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, using a power line on the edge of some woodland as a lookout (see photo). In the grasslands we found a few glowing Yellow-throated Longclaws weaving their way in and out of the stands of tall grass (see photo), along with Pale-crowned Cisticola, another “confusing” pipit, this time Buffy Pipit, and a small party of Senegal Lapwings in a recently burnt area. Checking the wetlands and coastal areas we came upon humongous Goliath Herons, White-fronted Plovers, and several Collared Pratincoles, and one of the reed beds held a few Southern Brown-throated Weavers. Later in the day we checked some parking lots bordered with more coastal forest that held the endemic Brown Scrub-Robin (see photo) that was remarkably easy when seen competing with Forest Weavers and Yellow-bellied Greenbuls for food scraps scattered around the lots!

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