June Bird Outing - STANLEY ISLAND – Bob Forbes
The second attempt at undertaking this outing seemed as if it was going to be another "washout". But instead, on this occasion, the water came from underfoot rather than from above. And so, threatening clouds notwithstanding, 17 tenacious birders, including newcomer, Anita Swanepoel, put their faith in the Norwegian weather forecasters and boarded the ferry to Stanley Island.
Soon after commencing the walk, the birds revealed themselves in the shape of a Fish Eagle, Kelp Gull, White-breasted Cormorant, a flock of uncommonly pretty Common Waxbills, Speckled Mousebirds and Speckled Pigeons, Egyptian Geese, Cape Canaries, Sombre Bulbul, Cape Wagtail and a Nedicky. Unfortunately, an exceptionally high tide had all but flooded parts of the island the previous evening. This created conditions which required intense navigating across swamp wet areas and delicate balancing acts on a log across a retreating stream. But nobody missed the Jackal Buzzard, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers and a Malachite Sunbird.
Closer to the river, Black-winged Stilts, Pied Avocets, White-fronted and Blacksmith Plovers, a Grey Heron, a Common Whimbrel and Sacred Ibis all availed themselves of the mudflats created by the receding tide, while Yellow-billed Ducks stuck to the water's edge.
On the way back, along the 1000m long runway on the island, a Common Fiscal, Plain-backed Pipit, Yellow-fronted Canary, Cape White-eyes, and a Bar-throated Apalis flitted through the trees. Later, on the ferry ride back, a Spoonbill, Little Grebe and Little Egret brought the bird count to 31, not a bad number considering the unfavourable weather conditions earlier.
But it was not a bird that provided the highlight of this outing, neither was it the three zebras that grazed on the runway. Centre stage belonged to a sizeable Cape Otter which left the main stream of the river and trotted quite confidently across a wide sandbank towards us before plunging into a channel of water directly below where members were enjoying the contents of their food parcels. It proceeded to give onlookers a few tips on "crabbing", before showing off its impressive swimming technique and ability to remain submerged for extremely long periods of time.
The club's appreciation extends to Barbara De Bruijn, our host at Stanley Island, for opening the facilities to us and we welcome Anita to our outings. Kom gerus gereeld saam met ons stap.