Trip report: Greyton

A group of twelve birders met for the outing, despite the threats of inclement weather. We were off to a quick start. Greyton, our destination, was some way off. We quickly moved towards the Helderstroom road – where our birding was to start in earnest. En route we picked up some of the more easily visible, larger birds – Jackal Buzzard, Hadada and Sacred Ibises, Blue Crane and Egyptian and Spur-winged Geese.

The road to Villiersdorp, off the N2, is characterised by a short section of abundant aloes and the occasional small farm dam. These produced Malachite Sunbirds and a Giant Kingfisher. We also encountered Yellow and Southern Red Bishops. The former was particularly notable throughout the day as the males are now in their spectacular breeding plumage.

The voyage along Helderstroom road allayed any fears for inclement weather that we may have had. The day was beautiful, with sunshine coming through the partial cloud cover. There was plenty of water around after the good rains. The birds were not in short supply either. The first section of the road is bound by a rocky field – good for larks and pipits. A couple of African Pipits showed well. Capped Wheatear and African Stonechat were common. Even a Cape Longclaw came close to the road to provide a good sighting. In the water there were Yellow-billed Ducks, Red-billed Teal and Cape Shovelers.

African Spoonbill (Johan Olivier)
Blue Crane (Ruth Vary)
Three-banded Plover (Ian Geldardt)

The plentiful water did provide a drawback – the Riviersonderend River was in flood and impassable. We had to take a detour on the south side of the river. Here we saw the early arrivals of the summer visitors. I got my first Yellow-billed Kite for the season. White-throated and Greater Striped swallows were also seen. But again, we encountered flooding. We had a quick discussion as to our next move. It was determined that Greyton was our destination and that is where we were to go. We had a hasty trip back to be N2 and headed to Greyton via Caledon.

Our first stop was at the nature reserve. We hoped to get a sighting of the Booted Eagles, but we missed out on these. Nonetheless, Orange-breasted Sunbirds, Cape Sugarbirds and a Cape Grassbird put on amazing displays with many photographs being taken.

Cape Grassbird (Johan van der Westhuizen)
Searching for Booted Eagles… (Ian Geldardt)
Neddicky (Ian Geldardt)
Malachite Sunbird (Johan Olivier)
Orange-breasted Sunbird (Johan van der Westhuizen)
Birders explore the fynbos at the Greyton Nature Reserve (Ruth Vary)
Cape Sugarbird (Johan van der Westhuizen)

The next stop was the sewage works. The muddy conditions underfoot made for some tricky navigation to the best spot to see birds. But we were rewarded with Black-winged Stilts and Cape Teals. An African Rail was calling in the distance and some Black Crakes darted through the water-side vegetation.

At this point it was time to head home – with one last stop on the Karwyderskraal Road. A Greater Honeyguide had been spotted earlier in the day. We had no luck with the Honeyguide, but we were treated to a pair of Verreaux’s Eagles soaring above us. Not a bad way to end an outing!

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