LAKES BIRD CLUB AT THE BITOU ESTUARY, PLETTENBERG BAY
Posted on the 2nd January 2016
PLETTENBERG BAY, BITOU ESTUARY BIRD OUTING
Thursday 19 November 2015
(This report first appeared in the December 2015 edition of “THE MALACHITE”, the official LAKES BIRD CLUB newsletter and is posted with the permission of the editor. - Ed.)
As a new birder in this area, having just retired from Queenstown in the E Cape, this would be my first outing to the Plett area and I was really looking forward to the outing. I can see now why a count of over 100 is possible for an outing in this good area.
We all met at Old Nick’s, 11 birders, and started at Goose Marsh. Unfortunately the tide was already too high, resulting in a lack of waders, except for Common Whimbrels, but we were rewarded with a good number of Swallows and Swifts, Greater Striped, Barn and White-throated Swallows, White-rumped and African Black Swifts, and Black Saw-wing, and very good sightings of Levaillant’s Cisticola.
We moved on to the Derbyshire Quarry Ponds and was good to get two Black-crowned Night-Herons, and amongst others, a Brimstone Canary which perched on top of a tree in front of us showing off what a pretty little fellow he is, and a very noisy Little Rush Warbler which was making sure that it would not be overlooked, calling continuously. (It must have been a female). Just further along the road, we had a very good sighting of Malachite Kingfishers and a juvenile that so easily could be mistaken for a Half-collared Kingfisher with its black bill.
The view of the Bitou River flood plains from the parking area is stunning with all the birds seen from this point, a good selection of waterfowl, but unfortunately no Hottentot Teal. There were plenty of Black-winged Stilts, a pair of Blue Cranes and a very unusually vocal group of African Spoonbills, giving, as the book says, ‘guttural croaks and grunts’, something one does not often hear. An Osprey and Fish Eagles presented us with a fly-past, and a little group of Kittlitz’s Plovers had a very vigorous bath ruffling themselves up, getting properly wet, reminding us of the 30 degree heat. At this stage our Captain Pat abandoned ship for a fancy lunch while we sat on our camp chairs and ate ‘sarmies’.
As a new member, I think that Lakes Bird Club is very lucky to have someone as enthusiastic as Pat Nurse, at the helm leading this club. John Bircher now took over the reins and we continued on the Uplands road. Unfortunately, because of the good rainfall in our area, unlike so much of the rest of the country, the pastures all had very long growth, resulting in a zero for Larks, Pipets, and maybe Capped Wheatear & Black-winged Lapwing. We did see Steppe and Jackal Buzzards, Yellow-billed & Black-shouldered Kites.
With the two set-backs of high tide and too much grass, I think the total of 84 species was very good and an outing that I thoroughly enjoyed despite the heat.