Last weekend I went with my family, and my friend Blessing to Mount Park Guest Farm in the upper Dargle region of the KZN Midlands. We left early on Friday Morning and along the way we made stops to twitch Holub’s Golden Weaver at Iphithi Reserve in Kloof, and we also had a good drive around Thurlow Nature Reserve at Midmar Dam where we saw a decent sized flock of Blue Cranes.
We arrived at Mount Park at 1pm and were given a friendly welcome by Sally and Ian. They directed us to our accommodation, as well as letting us know about the complimentary tea and treats that was served in the afternoon. We stayed in the Gypsy Cabin, which consisted of an old caravan which was surrounded by a wooden cabin. It also had its own braai area, and then across a small bridge there was another private fire pit area which was secluded and surrounded by a beautiful forest.
Myself and Blessing then decided to go on one of the walking trails. We decided to do the Leopard’s Leap loop, but before starting the trail proper we were already encountering some beautiful birds in the park like gardens and children’s playground. Some of these birds included Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Olive Thrush, Cape Robin Chats, and some Alpine Swifts flying overhead.
We then started on the trail and we soon found a Chorister Robin Chat. The first part of the trail took us in the valley which consisted largely of a grassland and mixed woodland habitat. We heard the call of a Red-throated Wryneck calling from a dead tree, as well as a Croaking Cisticola in the tall grasses.
Then the highlight of the weekend presented itself when after climbing a bit up a steep hill, I noticed a very distant raptor flying along the upper cliffs. I managed to get some photos, and after zooming in we confirmed it to be an endangered Bearded Vulture. To see a Bearded Vulture is one thing, but to see one this far from the Drakensberg/Lesotho Border area is another. When I got back home I checked the distribution of them on the Southern African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2) and it turns out that our sighting equals the record of only one other sighting as far east in South Africa as this.