Birding in the Afromontane forests at Kurisa Moya is now a regular feature on the Birdlife Polokwane birding calendar. This year's outing was on 19th August 2017 and it turned out to be one of the coldest days of the year so far. We were shivering as 18 of us walked towards the forest, but the beautiful calls of the forest birds made us forget about the cold and focus on the task at hand - five-star forest birding. As we entered the even colder – believe it or not – forest interior, we were awestruck by magnificent scenery of old man's beard hanging from the thousands of trees surrounding us. You could only wonder what secrets this forest was keeping. We were finally here: Kurisa Moya, a place where the soul is uplifted.
David Letsoalo, our bird guide, called one forest special after another as he spotted a bird or heard a call. He would point in the trees and say 'Square-tailed Drongo' and we would look for it as he shouted another name! The sight of Knysna Turacos crossing our path and showing their brilliantly red wings got the 'oohs aahs' they deserved. Deo, Julia and Richter had a great time at the hide where they took beautiful photos of Swee Waxbills and Green Twinspots. Unfortunately, they missed the Lemon Dove that was accidentally scared away by Peral. Julia's persistence paid off as she managed to get some good views of the Lemon Dove a little later. Some of us were also lucky enough to see the very shy Tambourine Dove which made a brief appearance at the hide before being chased off by the Lemon Dove.
Amongst us were new birders like Therminah, Tebatso and Thato. Therminah described the experience as refreshing and 'eye-opening'. She said her perspective towards birds has changed and described birding as 'a new-found joy'. Amongst others, her 'lifers' included the Red-backed Mannikin, Chorister Robin-chat, Olive Woodpecker, Forest Canary, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Knysna Turaco, Cape White-eye, Grey Cuckooshrike, Amethyst Sunbird, Streaky-headed Seedeater and Scaly-throated Honeyguide.
Other specials on the day included African Emerald Cuckoo, Black Sparrowhawk, Black-fronted Bushshrike, Brown Scrub Robin, Crowned Eagle, Forest Canary and Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler.
All in all we had a great time and for some of us this was our first visit to the interior of a forest. We wish to thank Lisa Martus for allowing us access to the farm and we were privileged to have a legendary bird guide of David Letsoalo's calibre to share his incredible knowledge of birds with us – and for his patience trying to manage such a large group of enthusiastic birders.
Photos by Makhudu Masotla