BIRDING FROM HERMANUS TO DANGER POINT - 23 DECEMBER 2013
Posted on the 24th December 2013
Dawid, Carin and myself continued with our casual birding along the Cape Whale Coast this morning and visited a few great birding spots between Stanford and the Danger Point Peninsula. We stopped at the CAPE SISKIN stake-out near Stanford and could hear them, but were unable to see them. Appel se dam produced most of the normal water birds, and we were able to add AFRICAN DARTER, WHITE-BACKED DUCK, BROWN-THROATED MARTIN, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON and AFRICAN REED-WARBLER to the list of birds that we had found since yesterday morning. As usual birding was excellent in Stanford and we managed some 50 species during the time we spent there. PIN-TAILED WHYDAH was an addition to today's count.
From here we went to Witkrans, but spent a lot of time at the homestead at the entrance to Flower Valley. To our amazement we found a pair of VERREAUX'S EAGLES perched on top of a bluegum tree in the middle of a valley some distance away from hills and cliffs. Later when we left Witkrans they were up in the sky soaring with a juvenile. What a sight and we nearly decided to return home as this was very special. (Also interesting that Facebook friends shared an image of two such birds sitting on the same tree in November 2010 - most probably the same birds!)
Black Eagle pair
Juvenile in flight
TAMBOURINE DOVES were calling continually at Witkrans and one wonders how many of these very secretive birds there are in this general area. We again found AFRICAN PARADISE FLYCATCHERS, together with BAR-THROATED APALIS, CAPE BATIS, OLIVE BUSH-SHRIKE, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER and KAROO PRINIA, and many more. I tried my best to 'knock-up' the woodpeckers, but only located CARDINAL WOODPECKER, and not the Olive and Knysna variations this time. We further added BOKMAKIERIE, SOUTHERN BOUBOU and OLIVE THRUSH to our list. This remains one of our favourite birding destinations in the Overstrand.
Our next stop was at the bridge over the Uilenkraals estuary. We did not have a spotting scope with us and had a hard time figuring out most of the distant terns and waders that one would expect here. There were huge numbers of COMMON WHIMBRELS, together with other migrants such as COMMON GREENSHANK, GREY PLOVER, SANDERLING and CURLEW and MARSH SANDPIPERS. Resident species included LITTLE EGRET, AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS, WHITE-FRONTED and THREE-BANDED PLOVER, CASPIAN and SWIFT TERNS, PIED KINGFISHER and many more. Unfortunately there were lots of people, many of them with dogs running around freely in the estuary and one wonders how this can be allowed.
White-backed Duck at Appel se dam
Butterflies at Witkrans
We then drove along the shore from Franskraal to Danger Point and by now it became clear to us that birding along these parts on the 23rd of December is more of a frustration than a pleasure: zillions of people all over the show. We did however manage to add SOUTHERN TCHAGRA and ROCK KESTREL along the Danger Point Peninsula, but yet again no Ruddy Turnstones. Dawid and Carin managed to get images of AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER and BARN SWALLOW.
Upon our return to Hermanus there were many GREATER FLAMINGOS and vast numbers of water fowl along the Kleinrivier estuary. Additions that we could figure out here included SA SHELDUCK, and CAPE and HOTTENTOT TEALS. Also a KITTLITZ'S PLOVER on eggs directly adjacent to the slipway at Prawn Flats. Crazy bird and Carin packed some stones around the nest to give the bird some form of protection.
Conditions are really not optimal for birding around holiday towns at this time of year, but still we managed to post 135 species on our list of casual birding over the last two mornings. Closer inspection does however reveal that our list includes 21 species that are endemic to southern Africa and a further 8 that are near-endemic. (Plus 19 migrants). This high proportion of endemics makes the Western Cape such a top birding destination.
We will study the weather carefully and then make a decision on a morning when we will explore the western parts of the Cape Whale Coast between Arabella Estate and Rooiels. Watch this space.