Twenty-five birders participated in the BirdLife Overberg day outing to the De Mond Nature Reserve on Sunday 15 November 2015. We travelled to De Mond via the newly tarred road between Franskraal via Baardskeerdersbos and Elim and some good species were seen along the way. These included DENHAM'S BUSTARD, GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN, BLACK HARRIER and many BLUE CRANES - Overberg birding at its very best. Also exciting that STEPPE BUZZARDS and BARN SWALLOWS and other summer migrants have arrived.
Briefing session - Carin
Checking those terns - Anton
The bonus of the day was certainly the access gravel road to De Mond. Many of the fields were transformed to large water-masses due to the recent floods and there were waterbirds everywhere – this gave new meaning to 'the Agulhas Floodplain' phrase. WHISKERED and WHITE-WINGED TERNS were everywhere and MACCOA DUCK, YELLOW-BILLED EGRET, AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE, GREAT WHITE PELICAN and many other waterbirds were easy to pick up. There were vast numbers of SPUR-WINGED GEESE and GLOSSY IBIS, undoubtedly the most that I had ever seen in one spot. Also exciting to hear the familiar call of COMMON QUAIL along several of the water-logged areas. Most of the region's LBJs were also seen and the cisticolas, larks and pipits were very prominent with displays all over the place. CAPPED WHEATEARS were particularly busy. And two beautiful KUDUs. Astonishingly, we were able to identify fifty plus species in the short distance to De Mond – I estimate a maximum of 10km!
Denham's Bustards - one on nest? - Anton
Kudu - Anton
Upon our arrival at De Mond we welcomed some new faces: thanks to the Papke's, Jilly, the Bester's, MC and members of the Stanford Bird Club for bringing friends along. Our sincere appreciation to Thulani Ndlovu for allowing us free access to the reserve. We set off towards the mouth and found the AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER almost immediately! Someone suggested that we might as well go back home as we got the bird. As we continued De Mond Nature Reserve produced the goods and in a big way. There were zillions of terns and we were able to sort out the CASPIAN, COMMON, SANDWICH and SWIFT TERN variations in the masses and masses and masses of birds on show. A single DAMARA TERN came flying past right in front of us, far from 'the madding crowd'.
Terns, terns, terns. - Richard
Terns, terns, terns. - Carin
We thought that it would be interesting to just name-drop the other, more common species that were found along the estuary: EURASIAN CURLEW, LITTLE EGRET, GREATER FLAMINGO, AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER, KITTLITZ'S, THREE-BANDED and WHITE-FRONTED PLOVERS, COMMON RINGED PLOVER, GREY PLOVER, SANDERLING, COMMON and CURLEW SANDPIPER, LITTLE STINT and COMMON WHIMBREL. Need one say more? Brilliant birding!
Mole snake. - Carin
Bar-throated Apalis. - Richard
Some of us also spent some time in amongst the bushes at the picnic area and found a variety of common species that one would normally expect to find in these coastal thickets. We then settled for a picnic lunch along the water and were entertained by kingfishers and several swallows, martins and swifts. We enjoyed a number of very confiding species in the area around the benches where we were eating. CAPE SPURFOWL, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, COMMON FISCAL, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, CAPE WEAVER and CAPE BULBULS all allowed good images. The prize sighting however was a SOUTHERN TCHAGRA working the leaf litter under the milkwoods. And add to this a MOLE SNAKE slithering in between the tables and a BOOMSLANG freaking out pairs of CAPE BATIS and SOUTHERN BOUBOU.
De Mond should be regarded as one of the most underrated birding destinations in the Western Cape Province. This is surely one of the top places to visit this summer – those terns just have to be seen to be believed! We are still awaiting feedback from all participants on the number of species seen today, but at this stage we are standing on a whopping 138 species. The final list can be forwarded upon request. We have received magnificent images from several participants and we will post a photo gallery later on in the week.
It is time to add the De Mond Nature Reserve into your planning for outstanding birding during this summer.