GREAT BIRDING EXPERIENCES IN THE OVERBERG - 2009Posted on the 12th March 2010
(There were many interesting sightings of birds in the Overberg during 2009. I decided to make a selection of great birding experiences reported on this website during the year and give a summary herewith. This description is not meant to be comprehensive and is rather a brief overview of the birding potential of the Overberg. Ed.)
An immature YELLOW-BILLED STORK was seen several times by Wessel Uys on the road to Witsand and was reported on 1 January.
Elaine and myself photographed a MARABOU STORK in between a group of White Storks at the Karwyderskraal landfill site outside Hermanus on 2 January. Two were seen there on 3 January by Frank Spratt and Brummer Olivier also photographed one being harressed by two White-necked Ravens while flying over Grootbos at 13h45 on the same day. The manager at the Karwyderskraal landfill site claims that these birds have been around since middle October and at one stage there were 17 birds. One could call this an invasion!
A RED-NECKED PHALAROPE was reported by several people at a pan outside the De Mond nature reserve during the first week of January.
Alaistair Kilpin photographed an EUROPEAN ROLLER at De Mond nature reserve on 8 January – one wonders if we are going to have such a dramatic invasion of these birds in the Overberg as last summer.
We participated in the Agulhas National Park CWAC count towards the end of January and were able to add GOLIATH HERON and EURASIAN HOBBY to the Park's list.
The pair of LESSER STRIPED SWALLOWS first reported from De Hoop Nature Reserve on 16 September are still present and giving provincial twitchers more than ample opportunity to get down to the reserve and add them to their provincial lists. The birds are hanging around alongside the vlei and are most often seen in the vicinity of the rondavels or at the pool area. A pair of these birds were also found at the derelict bridge near the source of the Klein River on the Oudekraal Road (very close to van Brakel se stoor) in November. Equally of interest at De Hoop nature reserve is what seems to be an influx of NAMAQUA SANDGROUSE into the area with a number of recent sightings.
Brummer, Dave, Frank and myself did our normal BLSA Birding Big Day during November. We decided to give feedback on some great experiences and a few fantastic birding destinations: THE MILKWOOD GROVES ALONG THE OVERSTRAND COAST: We started the day at Brummer's place in Kleinbaai and decided to first do our coffee in the garden and down the road. The name “CAPE” was operational as batis, wagtail, robin-chat, turtle dove, bulbul, weaver and several other dominated early morning proceedings. A CAPE LONGCLAW seemed strangely out of place in this habitat and a SOUTHERN TCHAGRA, together with a pair of SPOTTED EAGLE-OWLS got the day off to a flying start. These habitats are available all along the Overstrand seashore. THE DANGER POINT COASTLINE: All cormorants, but BANK, the gulls, thousands of swirling terns and a variety of fairly common waders are available here, but the highlight was certainly droves of AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER nests all long the shore. Such a pity that despite signs erected by the Overstrand municipality to request people to stay clear of the nests, there were local people gathering bait right at some of these nests – we still have a long way to go as far as environmental education is concerned. THE POPLAR GROVE AT THE ENTRANCE TO FLOWER VALLEY: Brummer was knocking on wood and soon three woodpeckers appeared within a minute of each other: CARDINAL, OLIVE and KNYSNA showed themselves perfectly, not to mention most local canaries, flycatchers and buzzards. What an experience – this spot remains one of my first choices for birding in southern Africa! THE VAN BRAKEL'S STORE INTERSECTION AND THE FIRST FOUR KILOMETERS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE OUDEKRAAL ROAD: I have to drive to Bredasdorp for work purposes at least once a week and the R326 affords one the quickest summery of Overberg's LBG's and many other avian delights. Within an absolute maximum of ten kilometers driven yesterday we found (inter alia) all of our region's cisticolas, RED-CAPPED and LARGE-BILLED LARK, our local bishops, AFRICAN and LONG-BILLED PIPITS, CAPPED WHEATEAR, PIED STARLING, several chats and most of our local swallows, swifts and martins. Highlight: a pair of LESSER STRIPED SWALLOWS, previously considered not to be an Overberg bird. Not to mention the BLUE CRANES and a wide selection of waterbirds. An total hotbed of Western Cape endemics. The influx of NAMAQUA DOVES southwards is also continuing with large numbers of birds reported all along the coastal strip from Rooiels through to the Uilenkraal estuary with the most southerly record being of 2 birds sitting on the beach at Danger Point!
In December, one of BirdLife Overberg's members, Carin Malan, reported that an Openbill Stork has been roosting on the roofs of houses on the Arabella Estate near Kleinmond. Trevor and Margaret Hardaker and Elaine and myself went along on the Saturday afternoon and found the birds. The southern movement of this species therefore continues.