Posted on the 21st August 2017

Members of BirdLife Overberg undertook the second quarterly Big Bird Count on Saturday 19 August 2017. Teams of members birding in their “home patches” contributed from several areas of the Overberg and interest grew as people started giving feedback through the club's WhatsApp group. Kindly note that my images will be relaced as others are received. The full list of species seen is available upon request at Here is our report: 

Botriver village seen from the Swartrivier road
Along the Swartrivier road













I did the usual beat through Vermont and Onrus with Louis Alberts. The VERMONT SALT PAN produced the usual suspects such as the BLACK-WINGED STILT, REED and WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANTS and GREY HERON. HARTLAUB’S and KELP GULLS were also present. The LITTLE GREBE, CAPE SHOVELER and CAPE TEAL were also seen, together with droves of THREE-BANDED PLOVERS. Surprisingly there were no FLAMINGOS on show, after we found hundreds there 10 days ago. Maybe this is as a result of the good recent rains? 

Around the edges of the pan species such as the CAPE BULBUL, LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, KAROO PRINIA, CAPE SPURFOWL and COMMON WAXBILL were seen. The calls of the BAR-THROATED APALIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, SOMBRE GREENBUL and LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER added to our list. We ended up with 40 species by the time we left the salt pan.

From here we went to the ONRUS LAGOON where we added PIED KINGFISHERS and OLIVE THRUSH. We were very excited to find an immature LITTLE BITTERN, not a species to be seen easily given the dense cover of reeds at the lagoon. The tide was VERY low at HARDERBAAI and we were only able to find the CAPE CANARY, CAPE CORMORANT, SWIFT TERN and LITTLE EGRET. Strangely we missed out on the AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER and WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER. Thobe Kuipers also called and reported a SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL sitting on his patio in Onrus.

Carin and Dawid Malan are in the Kalahari at present with the result that we then did the Karwyderskraal and Swartrivier loop roads, Carin’s usual beat. The Karwyderskraal section produced birds such as the BRIMSTONE CANARY, CAPE CROW, WESTERN CATTLE EGRET and RED-CAPPED LARK. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly a DENHAM'S BUSTARD displaying his ridiculous “white plastic bag” to females that did not seem impressed. The area around the old metal bridge over the Bot River is somewhat flooded at the moment and very productive. We were able to add species such as the SOUTHERN RED BISHOP, BOKMAKIERIE, GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, AFRICAN BLACK, YELLOW-BILLED and WHITE-FACED DUCKS, CAPE GRASSBIRD, CROWNED LAPWING and RED-BILLED TEAL.

Moulting Red Bishop with canola background
African Stonechat (4 Images by Anton)










Every available piece of land along the Swartrivier road is awash in yellow and green at the moment – it is beautiful, but this “mono-culture effect” makes birding almost impossible. We were only able to add the YELLOW CANARY, LARGE-BILLED LARK, AFRICAN and PLAIN-BACKED PIPITS, PIED STARLING, AFRICAN STONECHAT and CAPPED WHEATEAR along here. One might ask what the biggest shock of the day was: For the first time ever we did not see Blue Cranes along either the Karwyderskraal or the Swartrivier roads. In the end we were able to record 80 species during just over three hour’s birding. This is not too bad given all the other birds that one would expect to find on any other day of the year – we did not see a single Blue Crane, no birds of prey, and no swallows, swifts and martins!!!!!!!!!! Most of the migrants are also yet to arrive.

Klein River landscape outside Stanford














Richard Masson and Peter Hochfelden again worked the area around STANFORD and the DANGER POINT PENINSULA. Their BirdLasser card illustrates an exceptional morning’s birding and we only discuss birds that we did not record earlier. At Danger Point they added AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER, WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER and over-wintering WHIMBRELS. Witkrans and the Uilenkraal Valley produced CAPE BATIS, YELLOW BISHOP, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, STREAKY-HEADED SEED-EATER, BLACK SPARROWHAWK, ALPINE SWIFTS and they did find BLUE CRANES. Elsewhere they added CAPE SUGARBIRD and AMETHYST and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRDS. At Willem Appel se Dam they found AFRICAN DARTER, WHITE-BACKED DUCK, WHITE-THROATED SWALLOW, AFRICAN PURPLE SWAMPHEN and most of the other waterbirds that we reported on earlier. Other birds of prey found included the JACKAL BUZZARD, ROCK KESTREL and BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE. Richard and Peter ended on a total of 86 species, a significant improvement on their count in May. Thanks for a great contribution guys. See Richard’s brief report and images at this link:

Alpine Swift
Black Sparrowhawk (3 Images by Richard)












Jenny Parsons spent the weekend along the Breede River and sadly Conrad van Heerden is no longer with us. Carl Swart and a friend did the area between Rooisand and Rooiels. At Rooisand they added BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, KITTLITZ’S PLOVER, AFRICAN SPOONBILL and CASPIAN TERN to our list. Stony Point obviously contributed BANK CORMORANT, CAPE CORMORANT, CROWNED CORMORANT, GREY-HEADED GULL and AFRICAN PENGUIN and all of the other coastal species already mentioned. The Rooiels site again came up trumps with several rippers such as the CAPE BUNTING, FAMILIAR CHAT, BROWN-THROATED MARTIN, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH and GROUND WOODPECKER. They unfortunately dipped on the CAPE ROCK-JUMPER and SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSH. Carl's team clocked a whopping 74 species on the morning – no mean feat! Well done and thank you.

Jennie Parsons spent the weekend along the Breede River and managed to visit the Bontebok National Park as well. She identified an impressive 91 species and added some interesting birds to our list. Birds of prey included AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE, BLACK HARRIER, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK, YELLOW-BILLED KITE and AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER. Other additions to our list were NEDDICKY, KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN, GREATER DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD and CARDINAL WOODPECKER. Frank Spratt and others covered the central Hermanus area that included the Fernkloof Nature Reserve (WHITE-THROATED CANARY and VERREAUX’S EAGLE) and the Klein River Estuary (GREATER FLAMINGO). They were able to locate most of the special birds of our region and in the end reported 51 species. Chris Cheetham added a ROSEATE TERN in front of the Windsor Hotel!! Finally, Nida Potgieter birded at Meer-en-See – maybe some people should go and help her there next time around? She managed to add GREAT WHITE PELICAN and an over-wintering COMMON GREENSHANK to our list. In the end she submitted 41 species. This is a really good list for such a small area. Baie dankie Nida.

Ground Woodpecker
Immature Little Bittern











Ultimately we were able to record 139 species, a really excellent count for this time of year. This is very impressive if one considers that Carin and Steve were away and that we did not receive reports from Arabella and the Napier region. To this should be added that we still did not have people scoring in the Elgin/ Grabouw, Villiersdorp, Gansbaai and Cape Agulhas regions. Hopefully we will be able to get some people to assist us there in November. Also consider that most of the migrants are yet to arrive – at least 12 of these species were scored in May. The comparison of the birds seen during May and August also makes for some interesting reading. Herewith the list of species seen in May, but not in August: PIED AVOCET, BLACK CRAKE, LESSER FLAMINGO, GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, CAPE GANNET, AFRICAN GOSHAWK, BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER, CAPE LONGCLAW, AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON, COMMON OSTRICH, CAPE SISKIN, SOUTHERN GREY-HEADED SPARROW, MALACHITE SUNBIRD, SOUTHERN TCHAGRA, HOTTENTOT TEAL, OLIVE WOODPECKER. Herewith the list of species seen in August, but not in May: ACACIA PIED BARBET, LITTLE BITTERN, KLAAS’S CUCKOO, VERREAUX’S EAGLE, SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL, BLACK HARRIER, YELLOW-BILLED KITE, CAPE CLAPPER LARK, AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER, KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN, GREATER DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD, ALPINE SWIFT and SWEE WAXBILL.

The vast bird-watching potential of the Overberg region is clearly illustrated with this report. This is certainly a very interesting exercise and it is believed in the medium to long term it should generate some compelling reads. We would like to thank all members and friends who had participated and encourage others to contribute next time around. This will be on Saturday 25 November and will coincide with BirdLife South Africa’s annual Birding Big Day - it is believed that we will be able to record well over 200 species in November. (Subtle challenge to you all).

22 August 2017.

Brimstone Canary
Crowned Lapwing













Displaying Blue Cranes (3 Images by Richard)
















No current posts. Be the first to post a comment