CELEBRATING INTERNATIONAL WETLANDS DAY IN THE OVERBERG, AGULHAS NATIONAL PARK
Posted on the 6th February 2017
BirdLife Overberg received a very kind invitation from Emmerentia de Kock of the Agulhas National Park to come and join them the celebrate International Wetlands day.
After a very early start (4am), Chris and I met up in Hermanus to be at the rendezvous point by 06:15. Unfortunately we were held up with some birding on our way, but who would not stop for a Spotted Eagle-Owl, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk and …….. the Agulhas Long-billed Lark !!
We arrived late and realised that the rest of the team were in some fields a bit further away with a river/pan between us ? SANParks staff very kindly turned around and came to fetch us and within minutes we were on the back of the bakkie and on our way. The group was made up of Emmerentia de Kock and 7 Rangers from SANParks, they could not have been nicer and made us feel at home immediately. All so knowledgeable of the history and geographic of the area. Special mention was made that it was the first time in many years that the water has retracted/dried up that they could access the area by vehicle (Soetendalsvlei area). Wim de Klerk was also on hand and was a great teacher to us and the Rangers.
We immediately started following the waterway and picking up on several species, stopping and getting off every now and then. A lot of time was spent along some to the pans in the area as there where hundreds of different waders to work through, and every now and then a very “different looking” wader was found …..??!! I have never seen so many African Snipes in one place, I counted 11 in total for the day.
Back at the cars we had a well-deserved coffee and rusk break and it was on to the Springfield Salt Pans to look for the Chestnut-banded Plover, unfortunately the water was very low and the wind has also picked up. We did see a pair of Secretarybirds on the way.
There were lots of Greater Flamingos at Renosterkop Pan, but by now the wind has really started pumping. Lovely sighting of a huge Mole Snake and lots of little Padloper tortoises.
On our way back we made another stop at a spring which feeds a lovely dam, surrounded by a milk wood forest. Wim immediately drew our attention to an Amethyst Sunbird, which was a first ever for the Agulhas National Park !
It was such a privileged to have gone into areas in the park that are not normally open to the public, for good reason, as it is sensitive wetland. Specials for the day included, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, several African Fish-Eagles, African Marsh Harrier, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Southern Tchagra, African Snipes and Waders galore. At the end BirdLasser scored 94 species in overcast and very windy conditions.
The Agulhas National Park is certainly a birder's paradise and has something to offer for novice as well as experienced twitchers. It would be so nice to have hiking paths through those wetlands in future.
Both Chris and I agreed …… WE NEED TO GET BACK TO THOSE WETLANDS !