It has become a BirdLife Overberg tradition to do an outing on 27 April. Last year Billy Robertson took us on a Fynbos exploration at Fernkloof Nature Reserve. This year Steve Peck volunteered to introduce us to the birding potential in the Napier district. We got together at the sewage works outside the village and were excited to find a HAMERKOP just before this – a bird not seen very often in our region these days. The normal suspects such as the RED-KNOBBED COOT, COMMON MOORHEN, LITTLE GREBE and REED CORMORANT were on view and the wading birds included the BLACK-WINGED STILT, BLACKSMITH LAPWING and SPOTTED and WATER THICK-KNEES. Both BLACK-HEADED and GREY HERONS were flying overhead.
Black-winged Stilt - Steve Peck
Grey Heron tale-off - Steve
Huge numbers of CAPE TEALS were on the ponds and significant numbers of YELLOW-BILLED DUCKS and RED-BILLED TEALS were flying around between the various water bodies in the area. Great sightings of small birds in the reed beds around the ponds included the LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA, NEDDICKY and LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER. BROWN-THROATED MARTINS were foraging over the water and CAPE TURTLE-DOVE were continually calling all around us. A really good start to the outing and a hugely underrated birding destination.
Cape Teal - Rene Dewar
Levaillant's Cisticola - Rene
We then drove along the gravel road leading from the sewage works to Klipdale and returned to Napier along the Schietpad road. This represents and excellent birding loop road from Napier. We were delighted to find three larger species in abundance throughout the morning – the DENHAM'S BUSTARD, JACKAL BUZZARD and BLUE CRANE. We immediately found three DENHAM'S BUSTARDS and this probably became the species seen most often throughout the morning. I estimate that we found these birds at least twenty times, with one group including EIGHT individuals! Certainly a first for me. The JACKAL BUZZARDS allowed us to study the vast colour variations on their chest patterns.
Some of the endemics or near-endemics seen were the BOKMAKIERIE, CAPE CANARY, GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, CAPE LONGCLAW, KAROO PRINIA, CAPE SPURFOWL, PIED STARLING and CAPE SISKIN. As usual the LBJ's did not disappoint as we added species such as non-breeding plumaged SOUTHERN RED and YELLOW BISHOPS, BRIMSTONE and YELLOW CANARIES, ZITTING CISTICOLA, AFRICAN PIPIT, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER, LARGE-BILLED and RED-CAPPED LARKS, and many AFRICAN STONECHATS and CAPPED WHEATEARS.
Female African Stonechat - Rene
Zitting Cisticola - Rene
Other exciting species seen included a cracking male KLAAS'S CUCKOO, a hovering ROCK KESTREL, good numbers of BLACK-SHOULDERED KITES and SECRETARYBIRD as the cherry on top. We enjoyed lunch at The Fox in Napier and on our way back home we added AFRICAN DARTER, WHITE-BACKED DUCK and WHITE-FACED DUCK from the hide at Willem Appel se dam at Stanford. Our bird list for the day ended on 74 species – not to bad if one considers that all the migrants have gone and given the extremely dry conditions. We agreed that this outing should be repeated towards the end of October or early in November.
Capped Wheatear - Anton
Large-billed Lark - Anton
This once again illustrates the vast birding potential along the Overberg Wheatbelt Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA). Any of the gravel roads in the Overberg should produce many endemics, LBJs and other hugely sought-after species. Read more about Steve's birding adventures around Napier at this link: