Big Birding Day (Rooisand to Rooiels area of the Overberg) - Saturday 25 November 2017
(from Rooisand, Kleinmond Bot lagoon, Stony Point, Rooiels and Pringle Bay)
The alarm was set for 5.30am so that I could rendezvous with Carl, Jill and Justin. The day was bright and promising. On my way out of Pringle I managed to see the Helmeted Guineafowl family walking down the street with at least 12 chicks, next stop was to check if I could spot the Spotted Thick-knees day old chick but only found Dad on duty! Now I was running late so a quick drive to Rooisand was called for!
On the Rooisand road we picked up the Namaqua Doves, Cape Spurfowl and clutch of chicks plus the Crowned Lapwing. The day was certainly starting with a bang!
Arriving at the parking lot Carl, Jill and Justin were ticking off the waterbirds at a rapid rate – I really had to concentrate to catch up – Black-winged Stilts, Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gull, Common-ringed and Kittlitz’s Plovers were all at the water’s edge. The juvenile Greater Flamingos In their unusual black and white plummage was a first for me. We headed down the boardwalk and saw yet more…
On the little islands were the White-breasted Cormorants, Common Terns, Cape Shovelers and the Common Greenshank were making a noise. The Greater Crested Grebes were bobbing some distance away in the lagoon. Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints were busy on the mudflats. Along the sand path the Barn and White- throated Swallows plus the Brown-throated Martins were hawking the flying ants (it felt like we were under aerial attack at times!) The Cape Bulbul, Bokmakierie, and Karoo Prinia and fiscals were seen in the thicket on the right. Over the water on the left we were entertained by the hard working Little Swift and Pied Kingfishers diving for breakfast.
At the bird hide– Three Ibis species were present (Hadeda, African Sacred and Glossy). The Spurwing Geese were out in numbers and a few Blue Cranes graced the islands. A Kelp Gull showed us two chicks (very special) and the highlight for all of us was identifying all three Teals – Cape, Red-billed and Hottentot. This after our outing with Chris two days before, when we were given a wader 101. This sharing of knowledge amongst birders is what makes this hobby so very special!
Other usual suspects were spotted – Grey Heron, Little Egret, Three-banded Plover, Red-capped Lark, African Spoonbill - who were still fast asleep and we had to wait until they moved their heads before we could give them a positive ID. We met up with Duncan and his daughter in the hide so BirdLife Overberg members were definitely out and about. A highlight was the African Mars- Harrier who was flying over the dunes. Two Yellow-billed Kites were seen towards the estuary mouth and a Bar-throated Apalis surprised us on our way back to the car park. Leaving Rooisand, a Black-headed Heron did a flyover. Along the R44 towards Kleinmond, we spotted a Common Buzzard, Yellow Bishops and Cape Sugarbirds.
Justin suggested we do a quick walk around the Kleinmond Caravan Park – this allowed us to see more species like Common Starlings, Cape Canaries, Pin-tailed Whydah, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Cape Robin-Chat, Common Waxbill and Cape White-eyes. The White-rumped Swifts were present and a stunning sighting of a Bokmakierie pair! Helmeted Guineafowl and Cape Spurfowl were also seen. Over the road we went to the Kleinmond Lagoon Bridge – this was very quiet! We heard the Lesser Swamp Warbler and Common Moorhen – but all the usual waterbirds were hiding. Carl promised to return late afternoon to find them!
Tea time! Madeleine very kindly made us a cup of tea and fortified with sandwiches and biscuits we decided to head to the Palmiet sewage works – again very quiet and only Cape Wagtails, Blacksmith Lapwings and Cape Sugarbirds were seen. Carl had left us after tea. Off to Stony Point and we could tick the African Penguin (most sporting interesting and scruffy moults!), Cape Cormorants were plentiful, but we dipped on the Crowned Cormorants. Arial combat between two African Black Oystercatchers allowed us to add them to our list.
Next stop Rooiels and the search for our iconic Cape Rock-jumper. The wind had picked up and Rooiels was very quiet (between the landscape and silence it was decidedly eerie). Towards the green patch, Jill excitedly called us to see a pair of Rock-jumpers and a Cape Bunting made his presence felt with his loud call, we battled to find this little bird none the less. Familiar Chats and Red-winged Starlings were the more common birds seen. But the Rock Kestrels, White-necked Ravens and the fly-over of the juvenile African Fish Eagle, made our walk back to the car worthwhile. The endemic Orange-breasted Sunbird also made an appearance. By now the family were phoning to find out what time I would get home - I was almost 2 hours late…
So, goodbyes were said, and swopping of lists were promised and a great day out birding came to an end – sort off. As we all promised to bird on our way home and home patches. A number of local birds still made in onto the final list: Cape Rock Thrush, Cape, House and Southern Grey-headed Sparrows, Southern Double-collared and Malachite Sunbirds, Jackal Buzzard, White-fronted Plover, Cape Grassbird, Red-knobbed Coot, African Purple Swamphen, Water Thick-knee, Pied Avocet, Sandwich plus Caspian Terns and the Pied Crow!
A combined list of 110 birds was seen by the four of us, but none of us got to the magical 100+. Personal records by all of us for a day’s birding were achieved. How special is that and we are incredibly privileged to live in such a beautiful and diverse part of the world.
Congrats to all the other club members who saw an amazing variety of birds and “Team Rock-jumper” did us proud!