SLOW BIRDING MOSTLY AT DUINEPOS IN THE WEST COAST NATIONAL PARK
Posted on the 23rd April 2017
(Kindly excuse the poor quality of most of the images).
We presented the Flight for Birders course at Langebaan on Friday and Saturday. The course was well attended and representatives of CapeNature and the Cape West Coast District tourism division made up a fair proportion of the group. Some participants came from as far afield as Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Citrusdal and Clanwilliam. We developed a new section for the course in which birding opportunities in the West Coast National Park were highlighted and an overview of the waders of the region was included in this.
We stayed at the Duinepos Chalets in the park and it certainly remains one of our favourite birding destinations. We were particularly impressed with the improvements that Hildegarde and her team are continually adding to the interior of the chalets – not to mention the newly built braais outside. There was very little time to bird as we arrived after 16:00 on Thursday and were very tired on Friday afternoon after a days talking.
On Thursday afternoon we spent about 30 minutes at the Abrahamskraal hide. Species recorded included RED-KNOBBED COOT, REED CORMORANT, WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANT, CATTLE EGRET, LITTLE GREBE, AFRICAN SACRED IBIS, COMMON MOORHEN, AFRICAN PURPLE SWAMPHEN, CAPE TEAL, SPOTTED and WATER THICK-KNEES. The highlight was undoubtedly an AFRICAN RAIL that Elaine discovered in the reeds beneath the hide. We were unfortunately running out of light making photography very difficult. We include images of some other species seen below.
South African Shellducks
Record image of an African Rail
From here we went to the Geelbek hide and it was now nearly dark. We did however manage to find resident species such as the GREATER and LESSER FLAMINGOS, HARTLAUB'S and KELP GULLS, BLACKSMITH LAPWING and THREE-BANDED PLOVER.
Migratory species still on view were the BAR-TAILED GODWIT, COMMON GREENSHANK, COMMON RINGED PLOVER, GREY PLOVER, CURLEW SANDPIPER, MARSH SANDPIPER, LITTLE STINT, RUDDY TURNSTONE and COMMON WHIMBREL.
On Friday afternoon we simply did slow birding from the patio at Duinepos and lit a fire. We filled up the water feature and waited for the birds to come in – what great birding. Endemic species that paid a visit included the FISCAL FLYCATCHER, WHITE-BACKED MOUSEBIRD, CAPE SPARROW, PIED STARLING, CAPE WEAVER and CAPE WHITE-EYE. Others were the CAPE BUNTING, BRIMSTONE and YELLOW CANARIES, CAPE ROBIN-CHAT and WATTLED STARLING. The ROCK KESTREL settled on a post close by. On both evenings FIERY-NECKED NIGHTJARS were calling all around us and a pair of SPOTTED EAGLE-OWLS patrolled their home patch from the chimneys of the Duinepos chalets. Here are some of the species that I was able to photograph.
Very friendly Cape Spurfowl on patio table
Four seconds of Common Waxbills
Out of focus Spotted Eagle-Owl
The highlight of the course as such was the practical outing on Saturday morning in which only a few of the participants took part. We got together at the Seeberg lookout point and I did not have much hope for good birding given how dry it was on top of the desolate koppie. Was I overjoyed with the LBJs we found – a perfect introduction for the LBJ session I did after the outing. We found the FAMILIAR CHAT, GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, LARGE-BILLED LARK, KAROO PRINIA, AFRICAN PIPIT, KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN and CHESTNUT-VENTED TIT-BABBLER. This enabled me to point out the key identification features of the various families of LBJs. What luck! Other species seen included BOKMAKIERIE, SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD and a magnificent pair of SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAANS.
Practical outing at Seeberg lookout point
Some of the participants
What brilliant birding: In a maximum of five hours of casual birding we were ultimately able to spot 74 species. The West Coast National Park in general and the Duinepos chalets in particular remain on of our region's top birding destinations. Go there!