Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Springvale Olive Estate: Springvale Olive Estate in Eastern Cape, South Africa (© Vilis Nams)

Birding at Springvale Olive Estate with the Diaz Cross Bird Club explored a variety of habitats and yielded sightings of almost fifty species for me, including newly-returned swallows.

 

On Saturday, September 12, Vilis and I joined five other members of Grahamstown’s Diaz Cross Bird Club for a six-hour sesson of birding at Springvale Olive Estate in the Highlands area between Grahamstown and Alicedale, in Eastern Cape province. Sunny and fresh, the morning offered ideal birding conditions. After getting rained out on our first attempt at birding at the olive farm in July, such a glorious day was a treat.

Once at the olive farm, we checked out a variety of habitats: farmyard with ornamental trees, grassy pasture with exotic pines, native thicket on rocky ground, a dam and streamside vegetation. (Tap on photos to enlarge.)

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Springvale Olive Estate: Diaz Cross Bird Clubbers Birding at Springvale Olive Estate (© Vilis Nams)

Diaz Cross Bird Club Members at Springvale Olive Estate (© Vilis Nams)

Rugged hill country surrounded us as we hiked through thicket pasture, crossing a stream several times.

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Springvale Olive Estate: Birding In Thicket Pasture on Springvale Olive Estate (© Vilis Nams)

Birding In Thicket Pasture on Springvale Olive Estate (© Vilis Nams)

Birding by sight and sound, club members tallied around sixty species. A highlight for me was watching migratory swallows that had returned to the farm perform aerial acrobatics above the farmyard and dam. Their presence is a sure sign that spring has arrived in Eastern Cape.

Six Months in South Africa: Birding at Springvale Olive Estate: Springvale Olive Estate (© Vilis Nams)

Springvale Olive Estate (© Vilis Nams)

My bird list for this glorious day of birding at Springvale Olive Estate totalled forty-seven species, including three thrilling lifers: thick-billed weaver, white-throated swallow and pearl-breasted swallow. We also watched a large grey mongoose (a lifer mammal for me!) scurrying on a rocky hillside. Well done, Diaz Cross Bird Club!

My South African bird list for the day: Hadeda ibis, red-winged starling, European starling, speckled pigeon, laughing dove, red-eyed dove, olive thrush, Cape crow, jackal buzzard, pied crow, fork-tailed drongo, Cape turtle-dove, Egyptian goose, green wood-hoopoe, common fiscal, black-throated barbet, black-headed heron, black-headed oriole, Cape weaver, rock martin, southern black-tit, fiscal flycatcher, bokmakierie, amethyst sunbird, streaky-headed seedeater, Cape wagtail, dark-capped bulbul, red-throated wryneck, *thick-billed weaver, pied starling, speckled mousebird, *white-throated swallow, blacksmith lapwing, brown-hooded kingfisher, greater double-collared sunbird, black cuckoo-shrike, neddicky, brimstone canaries, white-necked raven, bar-throated apalis, Cape rock thrush, southern masked weaver, *pearl-breasted swallow, yellow-billed duck, African hoopoe, blue crane, helmeted guineafowl.

Native South African mammal sighting: *large grey mongoose.

 

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