A TWO HOUR BIRDING HIKE AT ARABELLA COUNTRY ESTATE
Posted on the 31st July 2016
Carin invited us to participate in her monthly bird count at the lovely Arabella Country Estate yesterday. Twelve of us took part and we experienced two wonderful hours of birding. We started at Carin and Dawid's house and first walked to the two dams close to their house. Along the way we picked up several exciting and often endemic species such as the SOUTHERN BOUBOU, CAPE BULBUL, BRIMSTONE and CAPE CANARIES, CAPE LONGCLAW, BROWN-THROATED MARTIN, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER and MALACHITE and SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRDS. The dams produced RED-KNOBBED COOT, WHITE-FACED DUCK, LITTLE GREBE and COMMON MOORHEN, together with very active CAPE WEAVERS.
Streaky-headed Seedeater (Image by Anton)
Brimstone Canary (Image by Charles Naude)
A hike along some of the fairways on the eastern side of the golf course added species such as the BAR-THROATED APALIS, FORK-TAILED DRONGO, AFRICAN DUSKY and FISCAL FLYCATCHERS, KAROO PRINIA, CAPE ROBIN-CHAT, CAPE SUGARBIRD and COMMON WAXBILL. The HELMETED GUINEAFOWL and CAPE SPURFOWL were particularly numerous.
Part of the group (Image by Anton)
Cape Sugarbird (Image by Anton)
Down at the estuary there were less birds than anticipated as the the water levels are very high, not allowing for foraging by wading birds. We did however find the REED and WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANTS, AFRICAN DARTER, KELP GULL, GREY HERON, PIED KINGFISHER and a pair of WATER THICK-KNEES. We also heard the call of an AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE in the distance. Small numbers of CASPIAN TERNS worked the channels for food. Along the edges of the water the BOKMAKIERIE, LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA, AFRICAN STONECHAT and LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER were prominent.
Water Thick-knees (Image by Charles Naude)
White-faced Ducks (Image by Charles Naude)
Upon our return to Carin's house we were able to add CAPE GRASSBIRD, SOUTHERN GREY-HEADED SPARROW and PIN-TAILED WHYDAH. Amazingly we were able to identify a total of 59 species in a matter of two hours, and this on a winter's morning in fairly chilly and windy conditions. If one considers that during Birding Big Day in November 2015 we found a further 32 species it becomes obvious that the birding potential at Arabella is hugely underrated. The species that were added in November included many waders, birds of prey and other migrants such as cuckoos, swallows and swifts.
Birding at the Arabella Country Estate is a revelation and casual walking along the various habitat types has great potential for practical training in species identification.
African Darter & cormorants in the distance (Image by Anton)