A group of 18, made up of Arabella Homeowners and some BirdLife Overberg members did a late afternoon birding hike along the fairways of the beautiful Arabella Country Estate on Sunday 11 December. It was great seeing so many new faces. Conditions were somewhat blustery, but great birding was had by all. It is encouraging that more and more members are beginning to participate in the BirdLasser project and we thank Carl Swart for forwarding his list. This is a great initiative as participants are contributing to SABAP2 (the bird atlas project) and thereby contributing to conservation. Everyone is encouraged to participate in this project as regularly as they can and maybe we should consider presenting a workshop on this early in the New Year?
Most of the common birds that one would expect to see on such a short outing were seen and these included several endemic species that so many overseas visitors often want to target. Here mention should be made of the Bokmakierie, Cape Bulbul, Southern Boubou, Cape Canary, Karoo Prinia, Cape Sparrow, Cape Spurfowl, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Weaver and Cape White-eye. A surprising number of birds of prey such as the resident Jackal Buzzard, African Fish-Eagle, African Harrier-Hawk, Black-shouldered Kite (breeding on the Estate - two young could be seen) and African Marsh-Harrier, quartering over the reed beds along the lagoon, as well as the migratory Common Buzzard and Yellow-billed Kite were also located. Other migrants reported include the African Paradise- Flycatcher, Black Saw-wing, and Barn, Greater Striped and White-throated Swallows. Very interesting was the Black-headed Heron that we followed for quite a way, while he walked non-chalantly on the pathways !
Jackal Buzzard - MC Botha
African Harrier-Hawk - Carin Malan
African Pipit - MC Botha
The various dams along the Estate and the Botvlei itself produced a diversity of waterbirds. The Reed and White-breasted Cormorants, African Darter and Grey Heron were very prominent at the roosting poles that were planted in the water for birding purposes. The resident Caspian Tern and visiting Common and Sandwich Terns, together with Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls also displayed prominently. Several species were also tending to their young and here Red-knobbed Coot, Yellow-billed Duck, Egyptian Goose and Common Moorhen need to be mentioned. Other waterbirds noted included Black-necked and Little Grebes, Blacksmith Lapwing, Great White Pelican, Three-banded Plover and Water Thick-knee. The newly established artificial islands proved very productive with Common Moorhen having raised three young on one of them.
Sub-adult Caspian Tern - MC Botha
Goslings - MC Botha
Part of the group - Carin Malan
Water Thick-Knee - MC Botha
All in all it was a very enjoyable short outing and all agreed that this bi-monthly hike should be well supported in future. The Arabella Estate has huge birding potential. Look out for the dates of these outings in our provisional schedule of events for 2017 or contact Carin at 073 172 2660.