Birding my home patch on Thursday 29 September
(From Gabrielskloof Estate down the Swartrivier Road, Rooisand, Bot River lagoon and Harold Porter)
The dawn chorus woke me up on a clear sunny day last Thursday. The patient was feeling better,VAT was done so I had the day to myself. I headed straight to the Palmiet Caravan Park, where I was hoping to see the Cardinal Woodpeckers. Dipped on them but had great sightings of Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis (they took a serious dislike to the bird they could see in my vehicle’s mirrors and windscreen – who they challenged constantly to protect their territory. This was entertaining and allowed me to practise some photography!), Sombre Greenbuls, Swee and Common Waxbills plus Cape and Brimstone Canaries.
I then headed to Gabrielskloof so that I could drive down the Swartrivier road with the sun behind me. The yellow canola fields have disappeared and now the green fields of wheat where everywhere! A plane was busy spraying the wheat which did not seem to worry the birds. A Black-shouldered Kite had an aerial dual with a Pied Crow just as it flew over! A Capped Wheatear gave me the most wonderful aerial display as he tried to attract a Mrs Wheatear! The Blue Cranes were everywhere – always a treat to see them!
A highlight was getting decent photographs of two larks – Red-capped and Large-billed.
Birds seen down the valley included: Blue Cranes, Egyptian & Spurwing Geese, Yellow-billed Kite, Capped Wheatear, Mr and Mrs Stonechat, African Pipit, Yellow and Cape Canaries, Cape Weavers, Yelllow and Southern Red Bishops, Rock Kestrel, Western Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Blacksmith Plovers.
An unusual photo opportunity of a Malachite Sunbird posing on the fence wire (I have a thing for capturing “birds on the wire”).
At the Old Bridge – White-faced Whistling Ducks, Sacred Ibis and a highlight was the Greater Striped Swallows.
I then made a quick turn down to the Rooisand Birdhide, but only birded the area close to the car park (I am a little wary of birding on my own here!). The usual suspects included: Greater Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts, Common Ringed and Three-banded Plovers, White-breasted and Cape Cormorants, Cape Shovellers. Driving back up to the R44 I was delighted to spot a Denham’s Bustard on the neighbouring farm.
Next stop was the Bot River Lagoon in Kleinmond where the birds seemed to be hiding! A managed to see Yellow-billed Ducks, Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen, African Darter and Cape Cormorants. I heard the Lesser Swamp Warbler!
Last stop before heading home was Harold Porter Botanical Gardens (an absolute favourite of mine). I was especially keen to see the pincushion proteas on the slopes of the mountains – they are spectacular at the moment. The Cape Sugarbirds are in seventh heaven – I lost count after 26…
I walked up to the DisaKloof waterfall and saw three African Paradise Flycatchers, but only managed blurry photographs, but they are back and I will just have to practise over the summer months! Cape Siskins, Bulbuls, White-eyes, Robin-Chats and Wagtails plus Olive Thrushes were seen.
On my way home I stopped in to check on the resident Pringle Bay Spotted Thick-knees and Cape Weavers who are very busy building nests at the moment.
A total of 80 birds!Till next time….