By Margie Ogston
The HBC trip to Botterkloof during April was most enjoyable, with the group of 19 members compiling a list of 126 species. Barbara Palmer organised and led the outing and was ably assisted by various senior birders.
Having met mid-morning we enjoyed a walk through the riverine area to the lagoon, adding various species to our lists, including hearing the Knysna Warbler.
The trip to the Sewage Works of Stilbaai is always productive and we enjoyed seeing the juvenile Great Crested Grebes and many Water Thick-knees. We watched in amazement as a Pied Kingfisher silenced her ‘catch of the day’ with a determined slapping action.
Tuesday promised to be the highlight of the trip, and Voëlvlei lived up to its reputation. We left in five cars at 08:00, and through thick mist slowly made our way through the fynbos and agricultural fields.
Our major sightings of the morning, en route to the vlei, were a Jacobin Cuckoo, a Southern Tchagra and many African Hoopoe at one venue.
With the mist finally lifting, we reached Voëlvlei, where we finally had the pleasure of viewing hundreds of birds and waders in one section of the vlei. There was an abundance of Grey Herons, South African Shelducks, Black-winged Stilts, Black-headed Heron, Yellow-billed Duck, Blacksmith Lapwings and Lesser and Greater Flamingoes.
Glossy Ibises were also spotted, but our special sighting was of four Black Storks on the vlei and a Martial Eagle gliding overhead.
On our final day we were treated to the special sight of two juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons at Botterkloof.
Our evenings were, as always, well organised, with good food and with Graham providing fires for braaiing. Barbara encouraged members to share their time with different members each evening, which was a huge success.