As there was a road marathon happening in the WCNP on Sat 17th March, 13 TBC members met at the Engen 1 Stop on the R27 at Langebaan at 7.30 am.
We doubled up in cars and made our way towards Jacobsbaai. Driving past a lonely tree I commented “Maybe there is an Owl in this tree”. Well there was a Spotted Eagle-Owl there and all had a great look. A lone and late Steppe Buzzard sat on one of the poles on the R27.
Further along on a quiet dirt road we stopped and started birding. We were looking for Larks and coastal scrub birds.
Karoo Scrub-robin, Grey-backed Cisticola and Yellow Canary were one of the first one to be seen. Karoo Larks appeared and displayed in the air, on the scrubs and fence posts, giving long and excellent views for all to see the beautiful features. Guess who is a Lark nut……..! A Bokmakierie duet caught our attention and we saw them a short distance away, really great Shrikes. A covey of 6 or 8 Grey-winged Francolins were disturbed and scurried into the scrub. Most saw them but close up would have been better. Gerald then played his tape once and Wow what a reaction from one of the males! He scuttled back to us and after coming through the fence like a rhino, he stopped 5m from us and gave a rendition of their lovely call. We stood and absorbed this very special bird up close and personal. This was very unexpected to see a Francolin react in this way. We took some pics and when I decided to record its call it had calmed down and did not call but gave clucking call. Casually it walked away from us and we stood and absorbed by what we had just seen.
A distant call of a Southern Black Korhaan was heard, but a Large-billed Lark appeared on a fence pole and gave its rendition of the birds of the area! Besides its own squeaky gate call it gave recognisable calls of “White-throated Swallow, Bokmakierie, Grey-backed Cisticola, Long-billed Lark (communication call), Grey-winged Francolin, Common and Pied Starling, and Yellow Canary. Interestingly it had 2 sessions with different calls and I only noticed this when I listened to the 2nd one that I had recorded! See how many calls you can recognise when you hear this Lark again. A group of Cape Penduline Tits flitted about in the dry scrub. We heard Grey Tits but could not get to see them properly.
We then moved on to Jacobsbaai and Mauritz Bay to have lunch and see the Terns. On our way we searched for Cape Long-billed Lark and a pair was found next to the road and a number of Sickle-winged Chats were rather friendly.
Lunch at Jacobsbaai produced a huge flock of at least a thousand Terns, mostly Common and only a few Swift and Sandwich Terns. African Black Oystercatcher, Ruddy Turnstone and Sanderling were probing the sand and kelp for food. We spent some time scanning the Terns for the “Odd Man out” but no such luck this time and also no rings on the Black Oystercatchers!
We returned to WCNP at 3pm as the marathon was now over and the tide correct for a visit to the Seeberg Hide. A least a thousand birds on the sandbank which included, White-fronted and Ringed Plover, Red Knot in partial breeding plumage, Grey Plover – also in BP and also now we could see why in the Americas it is called a Black-bellied Plover. A huge flock of Ruddy Turnstone sat preening on one of the sandbanks. A few Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, and Sanderling made up the smaller groups. In the marsh behind the hide a few Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper were seen.
As we left the hide and did our bird list for the day a Juv Fish Eagle cruised by. And whilst Gerald was doing the list, I was scanning the lagoon and saw large dark backed Tern flying south. Did not see it for long as it then disappeared behind the higher dunes. Could it have been a Sooty or Bridled or was it the trick of the light!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As it as now 5pm we debated whether we should go to Abrahamskraal on the way home. It was decided that yes a call there would be great and great it was with the Black Crake and African Rail making a number of appearances.
SA Shelduck, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Teal, Dabchick, Moorhen and Coot being the regular water birds and Yellow Canary and Cape Bunting coming in for a late bath. Two of our members saw 2 Black Harriers on their way to the gate.
A total of 94 species seen for the day by all the members, but it was not the quantity but quality that we saw. Also a number of Pentads done.