Bird Sightings
Bird Sightings at Aloe Ridge Guest Farm

The summer is definitely beginning to wane and migrants are much less obvious now. The Woodland Kingfishers appear to have departed and the resident Brown-hooded pair has returned to the preferred habitat around the front garden and pool from which the Woodland seem to displace them on arrival in spring. They can now resume their normal plunges into the pool every morning, a habit they seem to have to relinquish in summer when the Woodland pair carry out the same manoeuvre with much splashing and flashing of white underwings.

Our sighting of the week was an African Goshawk which caused considerable stress in the Brownbul and Village Weaver populations on Sunday with several fast passes under and through the thorn trees near the house. This had the desired effect of putting the smaller potential prey up and it chased through the madly scattering birds. The Goshawk landed in one of the trees, but did not appear to have caught any prey, and flew off to the east a few minutes later, somewhat disconsolately we thought.

The Rock fig at one end of the garden is now coming in to fruit. This is the source of much activity and the fruit eaters and also small insect eaters are very busy. Bird of the week? Well it must be the Green Pigeons in the tree, just lazily eating their fill. They fly in most mornings around 7.00 am for a snack, then return again in the late afternoon. Beautiful birds. The dead seringa (best kind) about 40m away seems to provide a staging perch for them and they invariably use it both on arrival and departure. The Purple-crested Turaco is less enthusiastic about the fig than about the Cape Ash fruit, which is considered his territory, and he will spend a considerable time in it every day when it is bearing fruit. 

Winter is providing a number of unusual visitors to the farm: We have large flocks - up to 40 individuals - of both Yellow-billed and Grey Hornbills. They trail around in straggling groups across the grassland from Acacia to Acacia. Much noise accompanies this.

We had 7 Black Storks fly over the farm heading in an easterly direction in August, only ever seen them singly before, I assume they have come from the escarpment where there have been lots of fires, and are looking for food. Talking of fires, we had a big one through the bottom part of the farm and while we were fighting it to at least limit the damage to the bush it brought out many opportunistic feeders to catch the escaping insects and rodents. These included a Marsh Owl and flying much higher an Alpine Swift.

Spring is starting to show, and the days are very hot and dry. Many birds are coming to the garden which we have kept watered in places to protect some of our young trees and newly planted grass. This has encouraged some of the trees and shrubs to flower, and we have recently seen two new sunbird species; the Collared and the Greater Double-collared.

Bird Sightings Mpumalanga
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