OUTING TO UILENKRAALS VALLEY AND DANGER POINTPosted on the 13th March 2016
Twenty BirdLife Overberg members spent a wonderful morning along the Uilenkraals Valley and the Danger Point peninsula on Saturday 12 March 2016. The day started out well – close to the CapeNature offices at Voëlklip at group of RED-WINGED STARLINGS were chasing an adult AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK. When we were waiting for everyone to arrive there was an AFRICAN GOSHAWK calling loudly from a perch and a magnificent JACKAL BUZZARD soared along the cliffs. We were surprised not to find any Steppe Buzzards while driving to Witkrans in the Gansbaai district.
|Candelabra flower : Brunsvigia orientalis - Anton|
|March lily: Amaryllis belladonna - Anton|
Birding started at the Witkrans site at the entrance to Flower Valley. There were unfortunately a large troop of noisy baboons and continual gun shots in the background, one assumes target practice. It was disappointingly quiet birding wise and we missed out on many species that we would usually expect to find here, such as OLIVE BUSH-SHRIKE, BLUE-MANTLED CRESTED-FLYCATCHER, TAMBOURINE DOVE and AFRICAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER. I tried my best to 'knock-up' the woodpeckers, but none reacted. We did however find common species such as BAR-THROATED APALIS, CAPE BATIS, BOKMAKIERIE, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, SOMBRE GREENBUL, KAROO PRINIA, BLACK SAWWING and OLIVE THRUSH. We heard the distinctive call of ACACIA PIED BARBET in the distance and Chris was able to point out an AFRICAN GOSHAWK flying overhead. Some of the group saw a BLACK SPARROWHAWK along the access road. A highlight was eight PEARL-BREASTED SWALLOWS perched on a wire – something that I had never seen before.
A further setback for out birding was that we could not enter Platbos as they were busy with their annual Reforestation Festival. We estimated that we dipped on at least 25 to 30 species due to the conditions at Witkrans and our inability to enter Platbos. We then moved to the bridge a few kms east of the intersection of the Uilenkraal valley road and the new tarred road to Elim. This is where we were able to photograph an active CARDINAL WOODPECKER nest last time around. We were able to compare WHITE-THROATED CANARY with STEAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER and had good sightings of a THREE-BANDED PLOVER, as well as AFRICAN OLIVE PIGEON.
|At Witkrans - Anton|
|Sombre Greenbul - Charles Naude|
From here we moved to the Uilenkraals estuary. Good numbers of waterfowl were on offer at the sewage works and we added YELLOW-BILLED DUCK, GREY HERON, CAPE SHOVELER, CAPE TEAL, WATER THICK-KNEE and several others. Our next stop was at the bridge over the Uilenkraals estuary. The estuary was waterlogged and we spent some time here waiting for the tide to subside. CASPIAN and SWIFT TERNS flew past and in the distance we were able to see LITTLE EGRET, WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER, AFRICAN SPOONBILL and BLACK-WINGED STILT. Groups of AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS were flying around noisily. Chris was able to point out several smaller waders with his spotting scope as more sandbanks became exposed. SANDERLING, CURLEW SANDPIPER and LITTLE STINT were some of the species that were particularly numerous. An immature SOUTHERN BOUBOU unfortunately got hit by a car here and we were able to study the delicate colouration of its feathers.
|Checking out canaries - Anton|
|Young Caspian Tern - Charles Naude|
|Unfortunate Southern Boubou - Carl Swart|
|Injured African Penguin - Charles Naude|
We then drove along the shore from Franskraal to Danger Point. We spent a lot of time taking in a picnic along the Danger Point peninsula. COMMON WHIMBRELS were prominent, as well as several cormorant species that included both the CAPE and CROWNED variations. Several participants added RUDDY TURNSTONES to their life lists, these birds moulting into their beautiful breeding plumage. We also discovered an injured juvenile AFRICAN PENGUIN on the rocks and were able to contact Brenda of the African Penguin and Seabirds Sanctuary (APSS). They arrived quickly to recover the bird, so wonderful to now have a world class rehabilitation facility in our area. On our way back we popped into APSS briefly. Brenda and her staff will speak at our monthly meeting in October and we will then undertake an official tour of the APSS facility on the Saturday following the talk.
|At Danger Point - Anton|
|APSS staff recovering injured penguin - Charles|
|Ruddy Turnstone - Charles Naude|
|Forest Buzzard - Chris Cheetham|
Our last stop was at Appel se Dam in Stanford. Appel se dam produced most of the normal waterbirds, and we were able to add AFRICAN DARTER, WHITE-BACKED and WHITE-FACED DUCKS, BROWN-THROATED MARTIN, COMMON MOORHEN and LITTLE RUSH-WARBLER. Upon our return to Hermanus there were many GREATER FLAMINGOS and vast numbers of waterfowl along the Kleinrivier estuary.
|African Purple Swamphen feeding - Anton|
|White-faced Ducks - Anton|
We were able to record 94 species on the day despite the disappointment of missing out on many species associated with forest habitats. This once again illustrates the vast birding potential along the Cape Whale Coast. The species list is available from us. Thank you to all who had contributed to yet another memorable birding outing.
|White-backed Duck in typical habitat - Charles Naude|