Story Anne Philip Images Jill Eckstein
I thought I would share with members of the Hermanus Bird Club some photographs Jill Eckstein took when she, her husband, Paul, and I – all Club members- went birding at Strandfontein last weekend.
We passed the picnic sites in Strandfontein where those of us who had been on the HBC outing last month had found the rare Rufous-tailed Scrub-robin (Rooistert-wipstert).
As there was not a car or another person in sight, we drove on to the conservation area.
It wasn’t long before we had notched up a fair list of birds, including the Swift Tern (Geelbek-sterretjie) in flocks on the sandy shores in a relatively sheltered area.
That is where Jill took the picture of them taking off in a mass flight into the blue. What a tremendous sight it was. The pic almost looks like a water-colour painting.
We watched the Grey Heron (Bloureier) stalking along the shoreline in the same area, ignoring the swifts and taking aim with his beak at any moving prey in the water.
There are, as one knows, many Glossy Ibis (Glans-ibisse) to be found at Strandfontein.
It was a question of catching that bird just as the sun caught its feathers on take-off to get a glimpse of the green in the dark wine colours of the majority of its body.
And just as we were about to leave, we saw three cars parked on the side of a mass of water.
One of the drivers said she had just spotted a Common Whimbrel (Kleinwulp), walking on the road, of all places, that was at 90 degrees to the one we were on.
A man in another car said the whimbrel was now in the grass higher up on our road.
At a snail’s pace we edged along the road and suddenly I saw this long neck and unusually curved long beak just under the line of the waiving grasses.
As soon as we pulled up to try to take photos it sped away on foot, keeping to the edge of the road where grass was a cover.
We spent about 25 minutes following it. It was obviously making for a beachy area well ahead of us.
Jill managed two great shots of it at the water’s edge just as it was about to lift off for a more distant spot away from determined birdwatchers.
The whimbrel was a lifer for her and Paul.
The Kittlitz’s Plover (Geelbors-strandkiewiet) was one of three running in and out of stunted reeds also on the shoreline. We were quite excited to be shown them by another birder as we haven’t seen this species for a very long time.
The Cape Longclaw (Oranjebors-kalkoentjie) happened to be flushed out of the green vegetation in the same area, but on the opposite side of the road.
With its back to us most of the time, Jill waited patiently until it half turned to reveal that lovely coral bib.
In two hours of great viewing we recorded 44 species.