Overberg Wetlands viewing – 25th August

African Purple Swamphen

African Purple Swamphen

Margie Ogston writes: Sunday began as ‘just another long trip to see family’ day and yet turned out to be a spectacular spontaneous birding day in the Overberg.

We enjoyed a straightforward trip on tar roads from Hermanus alongside the bright yellow fields of Canola, through Napier and Bredasdorp toward Struisbaai. A Yellow-billed Kite was our first special sighting followed by close encounters with a Steppe Buzzard and an aerial battle between a Black-shouldered Kite and a raptor which we could not identify. Once the family visit was concluded we turned towards home and knew we could not miss the opportunity to go ‘off-road’ onto the Overberg gravel roads. We made a decision to take the Elim turnoff outside Struisbaai towards Baardskeerdersbos. What an exhilarating decision it turned out to be.

The road borders with the Agulas National Park and the wetlands alongside the road were soaked with water, and we were pleased to have made the journey after a few days of dry weather!

What a treat those wetlands are – from the side of the road as we drove along we identified the below specials in abundance:

2 Fish Eagles within 50 metres of the car, 14 (maybe more) Purple Swamphen foraging around like chickens 5 metres away, a Marsh Harrier quietly surveying his territory near Zoetendal Wine Farm, 6 Denham’s Bustard, Black-headed and Grey Herons, Pied and Brown-hooded Kingfishers, White-faced and Yellow-billed Ducks, Red Bishops and many Blue Crane, and both Crowned and Blacksmith Lapwings – around 35 other species were added to our ‘spontaneous Sunday’ list.

Unfortunately we had to turn back outside Elim as the river water across the road was too deep, but as it turned out the road through Elim towards Wolvengat was covered with stunning Proteas in full bloom which attracted all the Sunbirds. We had a great sighting of a Peregrine Falcon about 60 metres away, which gave us a good 30 seconds viewing before flying off- we saw around 48 species all in all.

If you can find the time, drive out to those wetlands during the next 6 weeks while the water and the birds are up close and personal.

The gravel roads were fine to use – we joined up with the Pearly Beach tar road, and returned to Hermanus through Gansbaai – another wonderful Overberg outdoor opportunity gobbled up with delight!

Beginners’ Identification Course presented by Cape Bird Club

Just a few days to go until Cape Bird Club Beginners’ Course!
Even if you are not an absolute beginner birder, but feel you have missed out on some of the basics along the way, then this course could be for you. People have remarked to me that they have attended Heather’s courses several times and have learnt new things and helpful tips each time.
The course, presented by Heather Howell (vice-president of CBC) extends over 3 Saturday mornings plus 1 Sunday outing:
Sat. 24 Aug. – An introduction to Waterbirds, covering 27 birds
– Adaptations of beaks and feet explained
– Key identification points and interesting facts
– How to choose and use binoculars and field guides
Sat. 31 Aug. – How to observe an unknown bird
– How to find it in the field guide
Sun. 1 Sept. – Field outing False Bay Eco Park – in small groups with experienced leaders
Sat. 7 Sept. – More on identification, introducing some passerines.
Time: 9am to 1pm (tea break 10.30am-11am)
Venue: Herschel Girls Prep. School, Kenmar Crescent (off Herschel Road), Claremont
Course Fee: Club Members R200 Non Members R230
Contact: Priscilla Beeton pbeeton@mweb.co.za

 

EVENING MEETING 21 August

The Kuzeydoga Society were stuck with no bird ringer for Kuyucuk station for the autumn season and they begged Mike Ford to help them out. The season starts tomorrow, Thursday 15th and Mike left for Turkey this afternoon (Wednesday 14th) and won’t be back until the beginning of November!! Mike promised to do a presentation on both the winter & spring migrations for us in January.

This did however mean that we had to find a speaker for our August evening meeting at short notice and we owe Mike and Helen Mac Naught a big thank you for stepping into the breach. They present “A Spring Odyssey. Four and a half weeks birding along the West Coast and the Kgalagadi Trans-Frontier National Park.” The meeting starts at 19:00 and visitors are welcome.