Story Craig Holmes, images Charles Naudé
Last Thursday was a perfect day for birding at Rooi Els. But not for twitching.
The 25 Hermanus Bird Club members and guests, with Mike Ford in command, arrived at Rooi Els on the most windless day that most of them had ever experienced there.
The target was to see the specials that could often be found perched on the rocks seemingly strewn on the southern slope of the Klein Hangklip Mountain, such as the Cape Rockjumper (Kaapse Berglyster), Sentinel Rock-Thrush (Langtoon-kliplyster), and Ground Woodpecker (Grondspeg)
Lo and behold, Mike led the group of birders straight to the Rockjumper, which gave a wonderful display. We then marched on and what did we find? A group of Ground Woodpeckers, also performing and showing off beautifully.
A good variety of other birds were sighted, including Orange-breasted Sunbirds.
Then the group of birders turned into twitchers, heading off to the Rooi Els River mouth to find the Elegant Tern (Elegante Sterretjie) which had been reported there.
Despite Mike’s telescope, and more than 20 pairs of binoculars, no Elegant Tern was to be found. Only the usual Common (Gewone), Sandwich (Groot-) and Swift Terns (Geelbek-sterretjies in their hundreds.
The group took a shortcut back to the parked vehicles, and unexpectedly had to take off their shoes to wade through shallow water next to the river bank.
About two hours after departing for the last stop – Harold Porter Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay, the Elegant Tern was reported to be back at the river mouth.
At Harold Porter the sight of a variety of sunbirds (suikerbekkies) and Swee Waxbills (Suidelike Swie) was enjoyed.
The morning’s visit ended with a total of 54 species seen or heard.