STILBAAI BIRD –WATCHERS CLUB OUTING DE MOND/AGULHAS/ARNISTON AREA: 21 to 24 February 2012
The base for this bird watching excursion was at Waenhuiskrans Municipal Caravan Park in Arniston. A total of 17 people of which 6 camped and 11 stayed in chalets. The campers survived for 1 night and had to move into a chalet for the last 2 nights due to unexpected gale force winds. We were very fortunate to have Dave and Meg Barbour, expert birders in the group. Dave taught us all an enormous amount and made the excursion very interesting and successful hence an impressive amount of birds were spotted and identified.
On day 1 we traveled, set up camp and scouted the area for suitable bird watching sites. 44 different birds were identified. On day 2 we made an early start at De Mond Nature Reserve and hiked across the Heuningsnes River and along the west side bank of the river to the mouth and then along the coast. The wind came up at about 11h00 which made it rather unpleasant so after a picnic lunch under the Milkwood trees all decided to head back to base camp. To the horror of the campers there were three very windblown, collapsed tents. Campers set about braking up camp and moving across to a chalet. 55different birds were identified, a number of these“lifers” for some.
On day 3 we were very grateful that the wind had settled. All decided that another visit to De Mond was a good idea because the visit had been cut short the day before. We hiked along the edge of the lagoon on the East side of the river to the coast. There were many different bird sightings. We returned to the picnic area and enjoyed a lunch under the shade of the very old Milkwood trees. Some folk decided to return to base camp and others set off in search of the wetlands. Due to the drought many of the water pans were dry. In spite of this a record number of 83 different birds were spotted that day.
On day 4 some of us woke early and walked around the Village of Arniston. It is charming. All good things do come to an end so the time had come to pack up and travel home. The general feeling was that the outing was a great success and that another visit to the area would be a good idea, especially after good rains to fill the water pans. We said farewell to some old and newly made friends. Most of us traveled home very keen and a little more knowledgeable about our feathered friends.
We are very pleased to report that a total of 114 different birds were spotted.
(Article and images produced by Alice Duddy. A full list of birds seen is available from the author. - Ed.)