I collected Marie Watt and Marcia Kirkwood from their
Waterfront hotel at about 07h45 on Thursday, 7 October for a day-trip
up the West Coast. It
was an extremely windy day, but apart from a slight drizzle when
leaving town, the very strong wind and the sky remaining overcast
for most of the day, the rain held off and it was a pleasant temperature.
Our first short stop was at the Milnerton lagoon, where
roosting Common and Sandwich Terns, a fishing Little
Egret, a single Greenshank and a pair of Mallards amongst
others got the day going.
Heading along the R27, we started spotting Yellow-billed
Kites, occasional Black-shouldered Kite, a perched Rock
Kestrel and rather too many Pied Crows.
We turned down towards Grotto Bay, but the flowers which
were still present had not opened because of the cool overcast weather
and the birds were keeping low in the wind.
However, we did add Fiscal Shrike, Yellow Canary, Cape
Spurfowl and Spotted Thick-knee on the way back.
At the coast a single gull flew up to investigate the car,
and it turned out to be a Grey-headed Gull in full colour.
We then travelled for a short distance down the Darling
Hills Road, and this came up trumps once again, with Blue Crane,
Spur-winged and Egyptian Geese and SA Shelduck
and a great sighting of a Black Harrier at the earth dam.
Banded Martin, European Bee-eater, African Hoopoe, Capped
Wheatear, Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Crowned Lapwing, Malachite
Sunbird, Cape Longclaw and others all gave good views before
we turned back towards the R27.
On entering the West Coast National Park, we stopped
several times for Angulate Tortoises crossing the road, and
a family of one male and two females Ostriches with a group
of young chicks was a pleasant sighting as we headed for the Abrahaamskraal
hide. Here the Pearl-breasted
Swallows nesting in the hide seem to have small chicks, a number
of Cape Teal were on the pan, frequently being hassled by
an aggressive female South African Shelduck and a pair of
Cape Shovelers had chicks in tow.
A pair of African Marsh Harriers were seen, and several
canaries, mainly Yellow Canary but including a pair of Black-headed
Canary, were seen. However,
some of the expected smaller species generally around the hide were
not in evidence, probably due to the strong north-westerly wind.
From the hide we headed up the western side of the lagoon
towards Plakkiesbaai. Here,
the views were great as always, but apart from African Black
Oystercatchers, White-fronted Plovers and a few Cape
Cormorants fishing in the surf birding was very quiet. Heading
back towards Geelbek, it was a little distressing to see three dead
puffadders on the road, no doubt the result of speeding motorists.
We did however also see one lovely live specimen crossing
the road ahead of us.
The water-level at the Geelbek hide was seen to be exceptionally
high, with a number of Greater Flamingoes feeding on the
landward side of the hide. After
a pleasant lunch at the Geelbek restaurant, we headed towards Seeberg
as the tide was still very high. Seeberg lookout was very windblown,
but just before the turn-off to the Seeberg hide we had a good and
lengthy stop to view a male Southern Black Korhaan feeding
next to the road.
On reaching the boardwalk to the Seeberg hide, we discovered
that the pans behind the hide were totally flooded and part of the
boardwalk had water lapping over it preventing access to the hide.
In fact, a Pied Kingfisher was eyeing its next meal
from the near end of the boardwalk and a large group of flamingoes,
including several Lesser Flamingoes, were roosting in the
water behind the row of dunes. A single Caspian and one Swift
Tern were seen flying past, but observing waders was not an
option, a particularly high tide and the very strong north-wester
having inundated the area.
Heading back towards the parking area, we decided that
the time had come to start heading back to town.
Just then, the bush near the parking came alive with bush-birds
and we added a number of new species for the day in a matter of
minutes. These included Karoo Scrub-Robin, White-throated
Canary, White-backed Mousebird, Chestnut-vented Titbabbler,
Cape Penduline-Tit, Cape Bunting and Bokmakierie.
This delayed our departure somewhat, and it was about 17h00 by the
time we left Seeberg.
Apart from one more good view of Black Harrier
(this time outside the park), bringing sightings of this impressive
raptor to six for the day, we were back in a now gloomy and rainy
Cape Town by about 18h30. The total species for the day was 90 (89
seen + I heard), plus 3 additional species seen by myself but not
the clients. Given that the very strong wind kept many of the bush-birds
in hiding, and access to the wader hides was not possible due to
the times of the tides and the very strong wind blowing down the
lagoon, this total can be regarding as reasonably satisfactory.
A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour
Leader otto Schmidt.
Many of the birding sites on this trip are described in detail
in the Southern African
Birdfinder which is widely available in South African bookshops
and on the internet. (e.g., www.netbooks.co.za
or www.wildsounds.co.uk). However
you're always welcome to contact
us if you're interested in a guided trip in this area.