Members of BirdLife Overberg went on a morning outing to Onrus in Hermanus this morning (20 March 2010). Rather silly to organize an outing over a long weekend as everybody was out to enjoy the last sun before winter. It was therefore decided to go to Harderbaai and not do the beach area. There were many participants with the result we split the group. Mike and Elaine took a group along Atlantic drive and Anton another along the coastal trail. Mike's group was very surprised to find a Cape Gannet on the rocks and found several Common Whimbrels, Swift Terns and the usual cormorants and gulls. Anton's group were amazed by the vast numbers of Cape Wagtails working the goggos in the kelp and many Little Egrets. The trail along the caravan park also produced African Goshawk, African Paradise Flycatcher and about 30 of the common species that one would normally expect to find at this great birding venue. The huge number of people in the caravan camp was not good for birding though.
We all got together again and there was some talk about going to the Vermont salt pan. Nida Potgieter lives at Meerensee and suggested that we go there to look for the Eurasian Oystercatcher that was first reported and photographed by club member Jane Angus. When we got there we had to go for a rather lengthy walk across the sand flats to eventually find the bird. Unfortunately it was on the other side of the water and we did not have the opportunity to get clean photographs. We were though able to compare the significant difference in size between the foreigner and our local oy and this was by far the most members of our club to get a lifer in one go.
There were great birding at this end of the Botriver estuary though. There were droves of White-fronted, Kittlitz's and Three-banded Plovers, together with a few Curlew Sandpipers and Grey Plovers. The were many Swift and Caspian Terns, Greater Flamingo and the usual cormorants and gulls. There were several Common Whimbrels around and then Aurial pointed out a very large one. We were delighted to get an Eurasian Curlew – again a lifer for several of the newcomers. We are currently negotiating about coordinating the CWAC counts around the Botriver estuary (at least on a quarterly basis) and have provisionally targeted the 1st of May to get this process going.
On our way back we popped in at the Hawston sewage works and found lots of Yellow-billed Ducks and Cape Shovellers. Little Grebes and Black Crakes were also of interest, but the show was certainly stolen by cisticolas and warblers. Elaine spent a lot of time trying to get clear sightings of a small warbler in some reeds and was eventually rewarded with clean views of Little Rush Warbler. (Very proud of having been able to sort it out herself). Most members of the group managed to study the birds at close quarters. We also visited the Vermont Salt pan on our way back and there are currently many Greater Flamingos around.
We ended the outing off with lunch at our local pizza restaurant and great fun was had by all. In total we saw 84 species of birds illustrating the wonderful birding potential of our area. We hope that the huge turnout of members will be repeated during future morning outings, the next one being to the Helderberg nature reserve in Somerset West in April.
We welcome the Prinsloo's, who are recent arrivals from Nelspruit.