QUARTERLY BIG BIRD COUNT BETWEEN SWARTRIVIER AND ROOIELSPosted on the 29th May 2018
BirdLife Overberg’s Quarterly Big Birding Day on Saturday, 26 May 2018
Kleinmond lagoon, Arabella Estate, the Karwyderskraal and Swartrivier roads, Stony Point and Rooiels
Team: Carin Malan, Julia Smith, Peter Theron and Jenny Parsons
Report by Jenny and images by Jenny and Carin
The alarm was set for 6am (it felt like the middle of the night!) – padkos was packed and off I went. I heard our local Spotted Eagle Owl on our neighbour’s roof as I left home. A good luck omen for what I hoped would be a fun and “good spotting” outing.
We all met at the Kleinmond Spar parking area and headed out in quite dark and chilly conditions to Meerensee and the Kleinmond lagoon bridge. The water was still and the sun was just on the rise. This stop was fabulous – Cape Turtle Dove called and a Southern Fiscal was already on his post. As we got to the bridge we first heard, then saw, a Little Rush Warbler. Standing at the water’s edge we noted: Red-knobbed Coots, Little Grebe, White-breasted Cormorant, African Darter, Reed Cormorant, Common Moorhen and quite a few African Purple Swamphen. Peter spotted a Pied Kingfisher sitting at the reeds edge, Julia got the African Spoonbill and Carin excitedly pointed out the African Marsh Harrier while I confirmed 3 or 4 Black-crowned Night-Herons flushed on the far side of the lagoon by a dog.
|At the Kleinmond lagune|
Flyovers by Egyptian Geese, Cormorants, Yellow-billed Ducks, Kelp Gulls and a lonely Grey-headed Gull all added to our excitement. A single Black Crake was rather confiding while feeding out in the open. Wow – what a start to the day we walked away with 35 species!
Our next stop was Arabella Estate where we headed for the water hazards on the golf course. An icy wind was blowing, and Julia was frozen to the bone. Excitedly we spotted a group of White-faced Whistling Ducks and a Grey Heron hunting on the edge of the water. The highlight here was the Giant Kingfisher and the pair of Malachite Kingfishers. Cape Bulbuls, Hadeda Ibis, Malachite and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds were spotted as we walked towards the main car park.
|White-faced Whistling Ducks|
The car park was full of birdsong, the sun had come out and it was becoming a little warmer (only a little I must emphasize!). Sombre Greenbul, Cape Weaver, Streaky-headed Seedeater, Fiscal Flycatcher, Karoo Prinia, Speckled Mousebirds were all spotted. We then walked down to the Bot lagoon side in front of the hotel where we saw House Sparrows, Common Starling, Cape Robin-Chat and heard Cape Grassbird and the unmistakable Bokmakierie. Down at the water’s edge we saw a group of 10 or so Water Thick-knees well camouflaged on the mudflats next to the reeds and a large group of African Spoonbills. Out on the estuary a lone African Fish Eagle perched on a dead tree. A flock of Greater Flamingos were not awake yet deciding rather to stay huddled from the icy cold wind. Red-billed Teals, Yellow-billed Ducks and a few Little Grebes were out and about. A great sighting was the tiny (and very cute) Kittlitz’s Plover chick and attendant parents.
Towards the R43 side of the estuary we could see Little Egrets, a lonely Black-winged Stilt and in the far distant wheat fields Blue Cranes. The Blacksmith Lapwings objected to us walking on the fairway! A white-necked Raven was chased off by the Egyptian Geese. We headed back to the car for the next leg and to recover from the cold.
From Arabella we headed south on the R43 towards Hermanus and turned off onto the Karwyderskraal Road. One of the nasty sightings of the morning was seeing a White-necked Raven scavenging in plastic bags in the middle of the road. Along this stretch we saw huge numbers of Spurwinged and Egyptian Geese and Blue Cranes. A huge flock of African Sacred Ibis followed a farmer ploughing the land. A Black-wing Kite was seen hovering over the fields hoping to catch a mouse. In general, the raptors were scarce – Rock Kestrel and Jackal Buzzards were the only other’s seen (Carin saw an African Goshawk when she got home).
We stopped and got out the car at the old iron bridge over the Bot River – here we heard the Lesser Swamp-Warbler. We saw a Black-headed Heron take flight and Red Bishops were busy at the edge of the reed beds. A Levaillant’s Cisticola made his presence felt while calling from the telephone wire. Both the Malachite and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds were busy in the bushes alongside the road. Brown-throated Martins flew over the dam. The cattle were surrounded by Western Cattle Egrets and we saw two Indian Peafowls in the distance.
We made our way up to Gabrielskloof Wine Estate along the Swartrivier Road where we thoroughly enjoyed a cup of coffee (sitting in the sunshine) while admiring the Cape Sparrows also sunning themselves on the rock wall. Along the way we saw quite a few pairs of Blue Cranes, Yellow Bishops and Pied Starlings at the entrance to Gabrielskloof. In the fields and alongside the road on the fence African Pipit, Red-capped and Large-billed Larks, Grey-backed Cisticola plus the Capped Wheatear and both Mr and Mrs Stonechat were spotted. Pied and Cape Crows were close to where you see the Alpaca’s (Julia mentioned that they are often used amongst sheep as they are good “watch dogs” of the flock). Three Canaries – Cape, Yellow and Brimstone were seen. A highlight, and what must count as a regional rarity, was spotting a Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk on top of a tree out 200m away. Another special moment was seeing an African Fish-Eagle and a Water Mongoose together (our impression was the Mongoose has stolen the Fish-Eagle's lunch?),
|Mrs African Stonechat|
We then headed back to collect our cars and decided our next stop was Stony Point to see the African Penguin, Cape and Crowned Cormorants plus our South African bird of the year - African Black Oystercatcher. Finally, we got a Cape Sugarbird and Familiar Chat. I made a quick stop to take a photograph of a Jackal Buzzard sitting on a telephone pole and popped into the Palmiet sewage works – adding the Three-banded Plover.
Our last stop for the day was at Rooiels to see if we could find BLO signature bird, the Cape Rock-jumper. We could hear them and eventually Carin and I managed to have a very brief glimpse of both male and female birds. Unfortunately, Peter and Julia dipped! Rooiels was very quiet but we did manage to see the beautiful Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Rock-Thrush and Cape Bunting.
We were now done - at 4.30pm. Exhausted and weary but on top of the world! How privileged we are to spend a day with Mother Nature, identifying 114 different bird species. Driving and walking in fantastic landscapes while enjoying the company of like-minded people…
PS - Leaving Rooiels we made one final stop for a stunning Puffadder in the middle of the road. Thank goodness for a long lens but what an awesome sighting and finish to the day!
|Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk - a Swartrivier first|
|Rocky visits Rooiels|