Our trip started at 5am on Saturday the 2nd of September, as we departed from Polokwane. Our main target for the day was the Thick-billed Cuckoo. We reached our destination about 20km's East of Tzaneen, after winding our way through Magoebaskloof and passing through Tzaneen in the early hours of the morning. We were a total of 7 birders on this outing.
We started our bird list for the day, and picked up species like: Blue Waxbill, African Green Pigeon, Red-eyed Dove, Cape Grassbird, Southern Boubou, Black-crowned Tchagra, White-browed Scrub Robin, Yellow Bishop, Black-headed Oriole, and not forgetting the ever-nagging call of a Rattling Cisticola also made it to our list.
A cup of coffee and a bite to eat was enjoyed by everyone after our early morning start, while constantly adding birds to our list, like: Emerald-spotted Wood Dove, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Pale Flycatcher and Spectacled Weaver. In the distance, we heard the thin calls of a Klaas's Cuckoo. Gorgeous Bushshrike's were heard calling up the hillside, and Striped Kingfishers were calling down the valley to the East.
We did a short walk through a wooded patch, and got so see a large group of White-crested Helmetshike that were passing through. Jameson and African Firefinch were foraging in the grassy fringes of the path. We were lucky to find 2 Grey Penduline Tit sitting out in the open for everyone to see. A Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird was spotted in a tree, and the resident Lizzard Buzzard flew overhead to see what we were up to. We added more birds to our list, like: Thick-billed Weaver, Ashy Flycatcher, Common Scimitarbill, Yellow-breasted Apalis and a distant calling African Fish Eagle.
From a hill-top lookout we expectantly watched out for any signs of the Thick-billed Cuckoo. After a while, I made my way back to the vehicle to have another cup of coffee. Mark and I were discussing the inhabitant of a large spiders nest we found in the ground, maybe a Baboon Spider, but it seemed to be empty now. I heard some commotion, as Richter announced the arrival of the Thick-billed Cuckoo, and now we all could hear its loud calling. We all rushed in the direction of its call, and 'lo and behold', what a beautiful sight of this bird flying by with its broad, leave shaped wings. A Lifer for 6 of the 7 participants.
After everyone enjoyed watching and photographing the bird, we made our way down the hill to see what else we can add to our bird list. We managed to add: Purple-crested Turaco, Kurrichane Thrush, Village Weaver, Yellow-throated Longclaw and a Brown-backed Honeybird that silently flew into a tree next to us. We ended this very successful morning on 62 species.
We would like to thank Pierre Homan for allowing the club visit his farm, as well as Richter van Tonder who organized and led the outing.