Lesser Flamingos still at Vermont Saltpan

 

A small group of Lesser Flamingos (Kleinflaminke) has been seen at the Vermont Saltpan over the last two months. They were feeding together with the many Greater Flamingos (Grootflaminke) that frequent the pan.

Greater and Lesser Flamingo-

A Greater (left) and Lesser Flamingo at the Saltpan, photographed by Mike Mac Naught on 12 June.

The first report, of about eight Lesser Flamingos, came from Mike Mac Naught on 12 June.

“They were together with the more usual Greater Flamingoes this morning,” he wrote. “The last time we saw them here was a few years back.”

Other members have seen them there since then.

The latest report came from John Bowman, on Friday 29 July. “I popped in at the pan this morning, and was pleasantly surprised to see two Lesser Flamingos among many Greater.

“This was only the second time in many years of visiting the pan that I’ve seen them there.

“It was interesting to watch their different feeding behaviours. The Lesser were swimming around in circles, skimming the surface water, while the Greater generally had their heads deep down, scratching the bottom.”

‘Mega’-rarity at Strandfontein

 

A Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin (Rooistert-wipstert or Cercotrichas galactotes), a bird never before recorded in Southern Africa, has been located near the Strandfontein water purification works near Cape Town yesterday (Sunday 17 July).

Scrub robin

The Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, photographed by Trevor Hardaker.

The bird, which is described by Trevor Hardaker as “an absolute mega of the highest quality”, has already attracted more than 150 twitchers from all over the country today, and more are expected tomorrow.

Hardaker announced the discovery on his SA Rare Birds News service. Peter Steyn and André Demblon made this “rather astonishing find” on Sunday morning, he wrote.

“It is a species that migrates into Africa, normally as far south as Kenya. It is superficially similar to the Kalahari Scrub Robin, but the facial patterning is subtly different, the wing pattern is different, the tail pattern differs in that it has a darkish T-bar extension up the middle of the tail and, most obviously, the bird has pinkish legs and a mostly pinkish bill whereas these are black in the Kalahari bird.

“For those wanting to twitch this bird, it was present around the picnic area on the eastern side of Zeekoeivlei along the entrance road to Strandfontein purification works and, although it was moving around a little bit, you can use co-ordinates of 34°03’54.6″S 18°31’13.3″E as a starting point for your search.”

New fun format for Quiz next week

 

It’s time for the Club’s annual Quiz Evening with soup and sherry, but in a new format that will hopefully add more fun to the event. It will happen in our usual meeting hall in the Fernkloof Reserve, on Wednesday 20 July at 18:00.

The most important changes are:

  • Teams of six people will be put together in such a way that each team will have at least two experienced birders;
  • Each team may bring along and use books, cellphones etc. to find answers to the questions, although the time will be restricted; and
  • Members will be welcomed with a glass of sherry or soft drink on arrival, and the quiz will be followed by soup and a glass of wine or soft drink.

In addition to these changes, a team from BirdLife Overberg , the other local bird club, will take part. This follows the participation of a Hermanus Bird Club team in BirdLife Overberg’s annual fun quiz this week.

Forthcoming events:

  • The next monthly walk will be at Jessie and Ian Walton’s farm in the Elgin Valley, on Thursday 4 August.
  • The next monthly meeting will be addressed by Mike Ford on his adventures in the United States, with the title “Banding in canyon land”.

Greeted by 1º C and a Giant Kingfisher

 

Text by Mike Mac Naught, images by John Bowman

Despite earlier misgivings about the weather, it actually turned out to be a glorious winter day. A bit chilly, though! We were greeted by a temperature of 1º C on arrival in Stanford for our Club’s monthly walk on Thursday 7 July.

African Swamphen

African Swamphen (Groot-koningriethaan)

Ten intrepid birders met in the parking area above the bend in the river, intending to walk down the stairs and then along the river, returning via the houses.

We were dismayed to find that the stairs and the area below them had been fenced off because of the construction of a new pump station.

We made a plan and, with some fancy footwork, bypassed the obstacle and proceeded on our walk.

White-backed Duck

White-backed Duck (Witrug-eend)

On our return to the cars we drove to Appel dam and welcome cups of hot coffee.

Despite the cold conditions, the birds cooperated and did their bit. We ticked off a really respectable 47 species.

The best bird of the day was arguably a Giant Kingfisher (Reuse-visvanger) that posed patiently in the open on a branch just in front of us.

A close second were two African Swamphens (Groot-koningriethane) on the dam, also in the open. We also saw a solitary White-backed Duck (Witrug-eend). They had been missing from the dam for a while.

 

Stanford it will be

 

The monthly walk to Stanford is going ahead as planned tomorrow, Thursday 7 July.

The weather has cleared up nicely after the strong wind and good rain of last night. A windless morning with a few clouds are forecast for tomorrow, but it will probably be chilly.

So come prepared, with warm clothes.

Meet the leaders of the walk, Mike and Helen Mac Naught, at the Fernkloof Nature Reserve at 08:00. And remember to bring your own refreshments.

 

Stanford, here we come (brrr . . .)

 

This month’s walk will be to Stanford on Thursday 7 July. It will be led by Mike and Helen Mac Naught. That is the plan.

If it turns out to be a pleasant, sunny day, and herons, kingfishers, flycatchers, a raptor or two and a variety of ducks present themselves along the bank of the Klein River and at the Appel Dam, it would be cool.

But rain, snow on the nearby mountains and/or an icy wind – to which this area is prone this time of the year – could make such an outing rather uncool.

At this stage sunny weather is forecast for Stanford on Thursday, but the morning temperature is expected to be only 4 degrees Celcius.

The organisers will keep an eye on the weather, and members will be informed on Wednesday.

If the walk does go ahead, members wishing to take part must be at the parking area near the entrance to the Fernkloof Reserve, across the road from the meeting hall, at 08:00.

Bring your own refreshments.