by Bryan Butler

This was our first outing of 2019 and took place on 19th January. We left our starting point with 22 members but another 4 joined us at Rondevlei.

A number of us have not been to Rondevlei for some time and for a few it was a first. What an impressive Reserve! Yes, it’s in need of some renovation, but all in all it was neat, tidy and appeared very well run. We knew that a hippo was there but were astounded to hear that there are at least 6 and probably 12 of them now!

Apparently some of the Companies who supply night-guards cannot get their staff to work there – one male Hippo is extremely aggressive! We weren’t disturbed, but did see signs of hippo “droppings” here and there.

However, it was birds we were after and they were there aplenty. We were met by Lesser Double-collared Sunbirds and Cape Bulbuls, the former just flitting above our heads. 231 bird species have been recorded since the reserve opened – in 1952!.

Numerous hides are stretched over a well-layed brick path and the birding became better as we moved further down the list of hides. At the first we could easily see the Lesser Swamp Warbler – right out in the open. Levaillant’s Cisticola and Common Moorhen were there too. There were high viewing platforms further on which some were brave enough to ascend.

By the time we arrived at the last hide we could see African Shelduck, Black-crowned Night Heron, White Pelican, African Spoonbill, White-breasted Cormorants, African Swamphen and a further list as long as your arm. There was always something in the air and on top of a sportsfield floodlight in the distance even a Black-winged Kite!

Danie captured a superb Malachite Kingfisher with a fish in its mouth and we all admired it as we sat having morning tea break at the tables provided. Altogether we saw about 41 birds. Some then went on to Strandfontein where they id’d a further 38, while others headed home. A very good morning’s birding.