What a beautiful setting. On the edge of the Vermont Salt-pan – 8 of us in this double storey “cottage”, and a stone’s throw away a further posse of Somerset West Birders. That evening all 15 of us gathered on the stoep and braai’d together (well, Russell did the braaing to be honest) and the conversation flowed. It was early to bed, though, as we were meeting the next morning with the Overberg Bird Club at 07h00 at a nearby shopping centre.
Once the two groups (about 40 of us) were together we climbed into 10 cars and set off – back to the Salt-pan for starters. It wasn’t long before we had a bird count of over 40. Overberg’s plan was to restrict the outing to the single pentad in which the Club meets – and to try and surpass their previous grand total of just under 100 birds. Off we set for the Hawston sewerage works where the count leapt up again. All three Teals in one spot and you could see how much smaller the Hottentot Teal is in comparison with the others. This spot gave some of us a real opportunity to distinguish between the Lesser Swamp Warbler with its beautiful liquid warbling and the Little Rush Warbler with its series of rapidly increasing “click” notes.
From there we were privileged to be allowed into the Meer-en-See complex at the mouth of the Bot River estuary. Perfect views of Kittlitz Plover and the oversized Caspian Tern. There were so many experienced eyes scanning every possible spot – the count was increasing all the time. From there we moved on to the launch jetty at Fisherhaven. En route we had a fleeting glimpse of the Western Osprey – a first for everyone in our vehicle. Finally we headed inland on the Karwyderskraal Road. We stopped at the iron bridge for quite a while as the count continued to rise.
It was here that we passed the 100 mark with some way to go still. Onto the Swartrivier Road, a gravel road and views of Stonechat, Capped Wheatear and Large-billed Lark. Finally, pretty exhausted, we called it a day and headed back to Vermont for a leftover braai lunch.
After all, we had to prepare for an exciting evening! Dressed warmly, we all set off for Hermanus to join the Overberg Club at their annual Xmas dinner which was to be combined with a book launch – Duncan Butchart’s latest book on Garden Birds. From a seating point of view we were split up but this was probably a good thing and we all had an enjoyable evening which included a superb Chicken braai and salads – all catered for by the club members. The book launch went well and a number of books were purchased. Then it was back to our accommodation – and a chance for the men-folk to watch the International Rugby. The next morning we all went our own ways having had a really great weekend. If you weren’t there, you missed a treat!