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Birding Big Day at Thunzi
2018-12-03 | Cliff Hopkins

Birding Big Day at Thunzi

By Cliff Hopkins

Picture: Kynsna Turaco

The 24th November was 'Birding Big Day' in South Africa, where teams throughout the country see how many species they can record in a 24 hour period.

Team 'Shelley’s Sunbirds' started their day at 4.30 am at Thunzi Bush Camp.

We paused for 5 minutes at the entrance gate to take in the amazing 'dawn chorus' - a cacophony of bird songs heralding in the new day. The beautiful song of the elusive Olive Bushshrike; the 3 note call of the Cape Batis; the warbling song of the Cape White-eye; The ‘Willie” of the Sombre Greenbul; mournful descending of the Tambourine Dove; rattling of the Terrestrial Brownbul; Fork-tailed Drongo; Cape Robin-Chat; Olive Thrush; Black-headed Oriole; the duet of the Black-collared Barbet; croaking of the Knysna Turaco; mournful “I’m so sad” call of the Black Cuckoo, and many more.

We drove through the gate to the right where we heard the bubbling of the Burchell’s Coucal. A large mixed breeding colony of Cape and Southern Masked weavers were nesting in the reed bed. Unfortunately, unlike last year the Wood Owl didn’t come down to reveal himself, and neither did we hear the “tuning fork” monotonous hoot of the Buff-spotted Flufftail as we did last year.

A visit through the gate on the left and slow walk to the dams yielded a surprisingly good viewing of a single African Olive Pigeon, and Purple Heron. A Malachite Kingfisher darted between the reeds, and we also saw Giant and Pied Kingfishers. Black Crake stalked the edge of the reeds, and Common Moorhen and Red-knobbed Coot occupied the water. A Red-chested Flufftail called from inside the reedbed. We hoped to see the Little Bittern, which was so obliging last year, but this was not to be.

Raptors were on the shy side compared with what one can usually expect at Thunzi, with only the African Marsh Harrier and African Goshawk being sighted.

All in all, we recorded 49 species between 4.30 and 6.30 am - 4 more than last year, but nevertheless a good start to Birding Big Day. Thank you Thunzi!


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