SOMERSET WEST BIRD CLUB AT DUINEPOS, WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK - APRIL 2016
Posted on the 4th May 2016
Sixteen of us melted into the pristine Duinepos complex during the course of the warm Friday afternoon. We gathered that evening around the fires in the Boma which Sakkie and friends and family had already started. Soon the conversation flowed and notes on the day’s sightings were exchanged. As usual the braai was excellent with surprise little bits emanating from Marion Strobbe’s kitchen passed around as treats. It was early to bed, however, with agreement to meet at 8 o’clock the next morning.
In half a dozen vehicles we headed down to Geelbek and sixteen keen birders trudged into the hide. The peaceful atmosphere disintegrated as the animated conversation increased in volume. A mixture of English and Afrikaans, punctuated by the occasional Dutch phrase and accent and the odd German inflection made interesting sound waves, while the mudflats gradually revealed themselves and the Flamingos began strutting past. Black-winged Stilts, Sacred Ibis, Curlew Sandpipers, Ringed Plovers, Avocets, Grey Plover, Greenshank, Caspian and Swift Tern – and so it went on. For over two hours we
watched, wrote, clicked, and identified – a birders heaven. Eventually we called it a morning. Some went on to Abraham’s Kraal, some headed back to Duinepos for an early brew and lunch, with an agreement that we would meet again at 3 o’clock and head off to the other hide – Seeberg.
Common Ringed Plover - Anton
Greater Flamingos - Anton
Our group was two minutes late but the team were so keen they had already left. Careful not to push the speed limit too far we gradually caught up with them and then we all turned up to the “House on the Rock” overlooking Seeberg. The wind was strong, but the view outstanding. One of our group, unfamiliar with the West Coast National Park, thought we had to walk to the Seeberg Hide from the viewpoint. She was relieved to hear this was not the case. Back in the cars and down the hill. Single file along the boardwalk with stops en route, then packed into the hide again – this hide is smaller than Geelbek and there was some “taking turns” required. In fact, this was Tern territory – they were fishing up and down the shallow waters in front of us in their hundreds. Later on they began to settle on the sandbank in front of the hide which made identification easier – or at least slightly less difficult. Large, yellow bill, black cap – Swift Tern. Smaller, dark bill, sort-of white forehead and black cap giving it a slightly “bald” look, grey rump – Common Tern. Similar bird but much shorter bill and shorter legs – Antarctic Tern. Much smaller, yellow bill with black tip - ah – Little Tern – and so it went on.
Little Tern - Dawid Malan
Swift tern - Anton
Owning the sandbank were 21 African Oystercatchers. In came a White-breasted Cormorant. There are White fronted Plovers scurrying along. A fly past of Shelduck – magnificent. Kelp Gull, Hartlaub’s Gull, Chestnut-banded Plover – even Pied Kingfisher showed. A thousand Cape Cormorants attacking a shoal of fish, with help from more terns – what a sight. Another two hours past in a flash and it was time to head back. On the return journey we saw a Marsh Harrier – but no-one else did.
Our final night and final braai - on a perfect evening. All wood supplied by Duinepos. Lovely fires from Sakkie’s team, and a final treat from Marion made the evening. Reluctantly we all headed for bed with the prospect of a 7 a.m. start – a walk up the dunes behind Duinepos, breakfast and then a final look at the Park for some and straight home for others. Total bird count? 89 species.
Great weekend. Ready to do it again!