Big Bird Count 18 August 2018: Rooiels to Palmiet Sewage works

Posted on the 19th August 2018

Big Bird Count 18 August 2018: Rooiels to Palmiet Sewage works
Date: Saturday, 18 August 2018
Jenny Parsons, Jill Shapland-Smith & Julia Smith (who hiked the Three Sisters in the Kogelberg)

Carl contacted me to see if I would be birding and I thought I would have other commitments so initially said no. But by Friday I realized it was a go and with a call from Jill to say hi and that she is back in SA, we decided to meet at Rooiels at 8.30am.
The day dawned calm and sunny (but the temperature in the shadow of the Klein Hangklip was decidedly chilly). Jill arrived first and from the view from her parked car had already added a good few birds for our list for the day: Red-winged Starling, Cape Bulbul, Speckled Pigeon, House Sparrow, Cape Bunting. So, our morning was off to a good start!

Familiar Chat




Grey-backed Cisticola










The birds were the most active I have seen and heard in the last two months, maybe a sign that winter is almost over? We walked, and the Orange-breasted Sunbirds, Karoo Prinia, Familiar Chat, Southern Fiscal, Grey-backed Cisticola and Cape Buntings got our binoculars focused. A highlight was spotting a couple of Sentinel Rock Thrush – all in the first 300m of the walk! A group of Hadeda Ibis with their loud raucous ha-ha-haaa flew over (I think they were just reminding us to add them to the list!). We met a young Dutch couple who were spending their last day of their birding holiday at Rooiels, they had managed to see the Cape Rockjumpers on an earlier visit and were back to find the Ground Woodpeckers. So, we were all on a mission! 

Sentinel Rock-Thrush
Cape Rock-Thrush










Ground Woodpeckers











On the wetland water we saw a lonely Cape Cormorant and a two Egyptian Geese. Towards the rocky coastline Kelp Gulls were active and a very vocal Cape Robin-Chat. In the grassy area Brimstone Canaries were feeding. We had a wonderful sighting of a group of four Ground Woodpeckers and a pair of Rockjumpers were heard before we saw them, they were a fair way up the slope. Mission accomplished we decided to head to Stony Point Nature Reserve in Betty’s Bay.

Along the way we got the Cape Sugarbird, Cape Turtle Dove, Laughing Dove and the Cape Spurfowl. At Stony Point we enjoyed watching the African Penguins with their young downy chicks. Hartlaub’s Gulls were present plus all four Cormorants: White-breasted, Bank, Crowned and Cape. We spent some time watching the Cape Cormorants gathering and building nests. They were enjoying the fresh grass and tree cuttings that Cape Nature must have dumped in various heaps exactly for this purpose. Needless to say, the Rock Hyrax (more commonly referred to as the Cape Dassie), were having a feast on the grass cuttings. The resident Cape Wagtails strutted about and the Egyptian Geese stood their ground while Karoo Prinia’s made themselves heard.
It was great to see the tourists enjoying the Penguin Colony, quite a few busses with overseas visitors came and went. The power of eco-tourism in South Africa should not be under estimated!

Cape Cormorant nest study




African Penguin youngsters









Next stop was Harold Porter Botanical Gardens where we strolled up the Disa Gorge – large numbers of Red-winged Starlings were flocking and were perched on top of the mountains. Sombre Greenbuls were noisy and busy in the river bushes. The Olive Thrush, Cape Robin-Chats, Cape White-eyes, Speckled Mousebirds, Malachite and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, Fiscal flycatchers, Cape Batis, Streaky-headed Seedeaters, Bar-throated Apalis, Familiar Chats and a single Fork-tailed Drongo were all seen in the gardens. Two White-necked Ravens flew over as we were leaving. 

We headed back to Pringle bay for Fish and Chips on our deck, after which Jill and I continued, on our own. Jill added the Bokmakierie, Red-billed Teal, Red-eyed Dove, Yellow-billed Duck, White-faced Whistling Duck, Blacksmith Lapwing, Three-banded Plover and Jackal Buzzard at the Palmiet Sewage Works. 

I managed to add the African Oystercatcher, Little Egret, Grey Heron and White-fronted Plover and the Maasbaai slipway. At home my resident garden birds didn’t let me down – so I could add the Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Rock Martins, Cape Rock Thrush, Southern Boubou and the Yellow Bishops. The latter are already showing the vibrant black and yellow plumage associated with the breeding males. Pied Crows flew past overhead and at the little wetland where I walk the dogs the Common Waxbills were arguing with the Cape Weavers who are industriously building nests at the moment. The resident flock of Helmeted Guineafowl always make their presence heard when they squabble as they begin to roost. The pair of Giant Kingfishers were spotted on the neighbour’s roof (they are present, at the moment, as the sun starts setting then take off in a southerly direction?) and our resident Spotted Eagle-Owls could be heard but not seen when I went to bed.

Julia Smith, who is training hard for the Eden to Addo hike next month, did not join us on the day, but let me know that they had good sightings of a family of Ground Woodpeckers and pair of Verreaux Eagles and African Harrier-Hawks.

We had a great day out, in a beautiful part of the Overberg. The birds did not disappoint even though the raptors were shy, the days tally ended with 66!
Rooiels2Palmiet Team

Text and images by Jenny Parsons

Orange-breasted Sunbird
Cape Batis










Brimstone Canary











No current posts. Be the first to post a comment