OUTING TO DARLING
23 August 2014
(This report first appeared in 'THE KITE' (105), the official newsletter of the Tygerberg Bird Club and is re-printed with the permission of its Editor. - Ed.)
25 Birders started the morning at the Tinie Versfeld Reserve. Cloud Cisticola were displaying and Cape Longclaw were seen very well. The highlight here was African Snipe, who ew up quite a few times. It was nice to see their zig-zag ight pattern,
and to hear them ‘drumming’. Large-billed lark were also calling. Near the little dam a pair of Blue Crane were feeding quietly – such a beautiful sight. Their calls to a bigger group of cranes nearby sounded lovely.
The weather was kind to us, so it was soon decided that owers would share the stage. Our next stop was at the Duckitt Nurseries orchid nursery, where Nicolas Duckitt (Brigid’s brother) kindly showed us two of the lovely orchid houses. The wonderful colours of the orchids, were enjoyed by all. Next we visited the Oudepost and Waylands wild ower reserves. The splendour of Nature at this time of the year, is incredible. Lots of different varieties of wild owers, and their lovely Afrikaans names, were enjoyed by the group.
Along the way, good views were had of a pair of Purple Heron. We then went birding along the Darling Cellars / Cloof Wine Estate road. Whilst looking at Maccoa Duck, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe – one of the birders spotted an eagle on the far side of the dam. Scopes were used and a few members then walked closer to the bird. A Martial Eagle was identied. It was also nice to see it y off, showing its ‘huge’ wings well.
Many water birds were also enjoyed. Jackal Buzzard, a Spoonbill and many larks in the elds was a nice end to our day. At Cloof we enjoyed our picnics, and some members made use of the restaurant. This road is a wonderful area to bird along, as many species are seen really well. Our bird count was 81 for the morning, with the only migrants seen being some Yellow-billed Kite and White-throated Swallow. The owers were a treat, and nobody worried too much about looking for any additional birds.
Many thanks to the farmers, who all gave permission for our large group, to use their paths off the main roads. Peter Nupen helped me atlas the areas, where we spent the most time. I would go back there to add to the lists the next day. We all enjoyed the early Spring weather and owers.