MORE OUTSTANDING OVERBERG BIRDING - JENNY PARSONS REPORTSPosted on the 5th May 2018
Big Birding Day – over a few days covering Rooiels, Pringle Bay, Harold Porter & Kleinmond lagoon (25 February – 3 March 2018)
(Text and images by Jenny Parsons).
When the notice from Anton went out for our Big birding day count for the end of summer clashed with some guests we were having, I was disappointed! These days have taught me lots about what we can expect on our home patches as the seasons change. I managed to steal a few hours here and a few hours there to put this report with my list as my contribution to BLO’s bird count.
On Sunday, 25 February, I managed to a quick visit to Rooiels and was lucky enough to see a pair of Cape Rock-jumpers quite close to the gate, Cape buntings were singing and Orange-breasted Sunbirds were out and about. A lone Cape Rock-Thrush and Grey-backed Cisticola was spotted on my return to my car. Just before joining the R44 I managed to spot a Rock Kestrel on the rocks. Unfortunately, no Ground Woodpeckers or Cape Siskins were seen.
|African Dusky Flycatcher|
Driving towards Betty’s Bay I managed to see our resident White-necked Raven pair plus a Common Buzzard perched on a telephone pole. At the wetlands at the start of Betty’s Bay I picked up Sacred Ibis, Egyptian Geese and a whole roost of Kelp Gulls. Heading into Harold Porter Botanical Gardens I was met by a Familiar Chat, Dusky Flycatcher and walking through the forest near the restaurant a n Olive Thrush was scratching on the ground while two Cape Batis flit around. Walking up to the bridge a group of Swee Waxbills were feeding in the long grass. At the bridge I heard the elusive Victorin’s Warbler but have yet to see the bird! Bar-throated Apalises were in the bracken on the far side of the bridge and did not sit still for me to even try and take a photograph.
Into the forest walk up to the Disa waterfall I trudged. Not too much activity but the Cape White-eyes were ever present. I stopped at Chris’s spot and called the Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher. After my initial disappointment I decided to just stand and wait. Out the corner of my eye I caught some movement. The little guy appeared, and I even managed a decent shot of this shy and very busy little bird. Up near the waterfall a majestic African Paradise-Flycatcher flew past with one of the longest tails I have ever seen.
Walking back down to the gardens I saw a raptor in the leaf canopy. It came in from the river side on the walk. It flew in fast swerving in and out the trees. It did not stick around for long! I only managed to get a ridiculous “tail” photograph. After my initial excitement at possibly seeing a Black Sparrowhawk then deciding on a ‘Little Sparrowhawk” from my photograph ID attempt. I decided discretion is the better part of valour and asked for help from Anton! He convinced me that it was more probably a juvenile African Goshawk. The reasons given made absolute sense – firstly, the choc-brown barring on the tail. Secondly, the "heart-like" marks on the vent are illustrated in several books and images and thirdly. those tear-drop markings on the flank must take us to gossy. While the immature Little Sparrowhawk looks very similar, it is VERY SMALL - the size of a pigeon. So, seeing as I started off with the Black Sparrowhawk it must suggest that it is a larger bird!! (He also reminded me of my flight for birders course ID process – size counts). None-the-less it was a great sighting!
|Cape Batis pair|
Back in the gardens at the Ericas, the sunbirds – Malachite, Orange-breasted and Southern Double- collared were all present. White-throated Swallows and Rock Martins were also hawking. A Fiscal Flycatcher, Speckled Mousebirds, Cape Bulbuls and Red-winged Starlings were all spotted.
I made my way to Stoney Point and along the way saw a Common Fiscal, Cape Spurfowl and Helmeted Guineafowl. Cape Weavers and Cape Canaries were also spotted. At the colony, the African Penguins have all shed their down. The Cape Cormorants were collecting kelp to build nests. The White-breasted Cormorants were sunning themselves. Bank Cormorants were on their nests. Overhead both Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gulls flew around. Oystercatchers were visible and the ever-present Egyptian Geese, who seem to have made a home on the colony were there. Cape Wagtails foraged in the seaweed while a Little Egret fished on the rocks across the way from the slipway.
|Cape Cormorant nest|
|Bank and Cape Cormorants|
Homeward bound to Pringle Bay. I headed to the main beach to check on our local celebrity oystercatcher chicks and spotted White-fronted Plovers. Hadeda’s were sitting on the rocks, while the Swift and Common Terns were also present. A quick walk at Maasbaai near the Hangklip lighthouse showed a Common Ringed Plover, Grey Heron, Cape Grassbird and a lone Caspian Tern on Moonlight Beach.
Home James and sitting on my deck sipping wine we had a family of Cape Rock-Thrush visit plus both the Speckled Pigeon and Cape Turtle-Doves came to drink water at the dog’s water bowl. The Cape Robin-Chat and Karoo Prinia flitted in the garden fynbos. Unfortunately, our local Spotted Eagle-Owls did not make an appearance, so dipped on them this time.
Other birds were spotted the next day at the Kleinmond lagoon – African Darter, African Purple Swamphen, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Pied Kingfisher, Barn Swallow, Reed Cormorant and Grey-headed Gull. The Common Waxbills were being terrorised by the Pin-tailed Whydah.
|Jenny's oystercatcher family|
|Brilliant oystercatcher image|
While on the Lighthouse2lighthouse Charity walk I also kept a list – nice sightings from the bus included White Storks, Blue Cranes, Denham’s Bustards, Yellow-billed Ducks, African Spoonbill, Spurwing Geese, Black-headed Heron, Cattle Egrets, Greater Flamingo’s and Black-winged Stilts on the salt pans. On the walk itself - a Cape Longclaw, Fork-tailed Drongo, Bokmakierie, Jackal Buzzard, Yellow-billed Kite and a very nice close sighting of a Black-shouldered Kite. Rock Martins and House Sparrows were present at the camp and a pair of Spotted Thick-knees was spotted after dark. Shore birds were difficult to ID with no bino’s, but the Ruddy Turnstones turning over rocks were unmistakable while the Whimbrel’s shape gave them away. Sanderlings were seen at the water’s edge along Bantamsklip beach. Lots of Oystercatchers caught the eyes of my fellow walkers.
A really sad and disturbing sight was seeing all the Cape Gannets dead along the shores of the Cape Agulhas National Park - I stopped counting after a 100 and it seemed like there were 100’s more. A few Kelp Gulls were also dead. Avian flu causing some serious damage to these two groups of birds.
All in all 115 birds are on my list over the space of a week or so. The Overberg certainly delivers…