Posted on the 2nd October 2021

Taking out the Rand Barbets
I had the pleasure of meeting ten birders from the Rand Barbets Bird Club in Gauteng for two days recently. They had asked me to guide them around the wheatbelt region of Napier and the De Mond Nature Reserve.

On the first day, we met up in Bredasdorp and headed in car convoy along the R317 towards Stormsvlei. We soon picked up Pied Starling, Jackal Buzzard and Red Bishop on the poles and wires. Just before turning on to the gravel road, we had a lovely sighting of a pair of Pied Avocets on a small dam along the roadside; definitely not a usual bird for this area.

Once on gravel, we drove slowly towards the Napier silos with wonderful sightings of Red-capped Lark, Blue Crane, Cape Crow, Black-headed Heron, Yellow-billed Kite and Cape Weaver, along with ‘Piet’ singing his little heart out! Then, just before the silos, high in the sky, we spotted an adult Martial Eagle and a Black Sparrowhawk both in the same airspace.

Taking the gravel road towards Klipdale, we picked up Cape and Yellow Canary, Levaillant’s and Grey-backed cisticolas, Karoo Scrub Robin, Helmeted Guineafowl and Pied Crow. Stopping at a small patch of water, we all heard the close call of the Common Quail but, despite eleven pairs of eyes searching, we couldn’t spot any in the high grass.

Just up the road, we spotted a family of Grey-winged Francolin; four adults and at least eight chicks were counted before they slipped away into the crops for cover. Whilst scanning around this spot, we also picked up three Kelp Gulls in a grassy field feeding on a lamb’s carcass.

Travelling further on, the highlights encountered were Cape Grassbird, Red-billed Quelea, Malachite Kingfisher, Yellow and Red bishops, Capped Wheatear and African Fish-Eagle. There was also a pair of Black-winged Kites collecting sticks and nest building. A good day’s birding!

The next day, we met up at the start of the gravel road leading to De Mond Nature Reserve and, whilst sorting out the day’s itinerary between us, we were treated to the sight of an African Marsh Harrier hunting over a reed bed, a Malachite Sunbird chasing an African Goshawk out of the tree next to us that no-one had noticed, and an inter- action between a Yellow-billed and a Black-winged Kite!

It took us nearly two hours to drive along the 15km gravel road to De Mond, such was the amount of interesting sightings - Blue Crane, Denham’s Bustard, Large-billed and Red-capped larks, African Pipits by the dozen, Bokmakierie, Common Fiscal, Speckled Mousebird, Common Waxbill and Cape, House and Southern Grey-headed sparrows were all ticked off the list.
Nearing the nature reserve, we stopped at an area that had flooded and formed a vlei, where we picked up a family of Cape Shoveler, Red-knobbed Coots with chicks, African Spoonbill, Reed Cormorant, Red-billed and Cape teals, Black-winged Stilt and Cape Spurfowl.

A pair of Black Sparrowhawks were spotted circling above us, along with a beautiful lone Verreaux’s Eagle as we approached the car park of De Mond - definitely a highlight.

We booked in at Reception and decided to take the wooden boardwalk along the sand banks. That was a very good decision - at the first sand bank we recorded Cape Shoveler, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Sandpiper, White-breasted Cormorant, Red-billed Teal, Great-crested Grebe and a pair of Pied Kingfishers hovering over the shallow waters.

A slow walk on and White-fronted and Kittlitz’s plovers were picked up; Common Greenshank were seen foraging at the water’s edge and Kelp Gulls soared overhead, with a Little Egret hunting along the opposite bank.

We found the bigger sand banks covered with Greater-crested and Common terns and Sanderling, with the occasional Caspian Tern and cormorants among them - a great sight.

On the way back, a lovely male Klaas’s Cuckoo was singing loudly in the trees, while the Cape Bulbuls and Yellow Canaries flitted about.

Some of us took the bridge over the estuary and were rewarded with Common Whimbrel and four Striated Herons, roosting in a Milkwood tree at the water’s edge.

Back at the picnic area, it was time to grab our lunch and reflect on a great two days’ birding and, whilst chatting away, we were visited by Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis, Olive Thrush, Southern Boubou and a flyby of a Southern Tchagra.

Other notable birds were seen: Pin-tailed Whydah, Fork-tailed Drongo, Spur-winged and Egyptian geese, Crowned Plover, African Stonechat, Karoo Prinia, Cape Wagtail, Cape White-eye, Southern- Masked Weaver, Amethyst and Southern Double-collared sunbirds, Blacksmith Plover, Brown-throated Martin, Greater Striped Swallow, Little and White-Rumped swifts, White-throated and Pearl-Breasted swallows, White-necked Raven and Cape Canary.

So, more than a hundred different species (including at least 20 endemics) were seen over the two days, the weather was kind, the company was great and I HAD A BALL…
Images and text by Steve Peck
Napier Birding Guided Tours

Large-billed Lark
Red-capped Lark










Immature African Stonechat
African Goshawk











African Marsh Harrier
Black Harrier











Kelp Gull
Great Crested Grebe










White-fronted Plover
White-throated Swallow











Terns, terns, terns
And more


















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