I received this nice article from John Bowman;
Saturday 27 November was BirdLife SA’s Big Birding Day. Participants could choose to bird in either a circle with a 50km radius, or one of 5kms. And you had 24 hours in which to do it.
Sadly, only one team from Hermanus Bird Club entered the event. The ‘White-headed HBCs’-Sheelagh Bowman, Barbara Palmer and myself. And what a great day we had!
We went for the 5km radius option, with an area which included parts of Onrus and Vermont, to Bot River Lagoon edge, and part of Kaarwyderskraal road. So we had a nice range of habitats.
The forecast weather was for plenty of rain, and strong winds. But fortunately, the heavens opened overnight with a vengeance, so there was nothing left to pour on us that day, and it was dry. And only some wind at Die Eiland. Near perfect birding conditions.
Just to comment on a few of the day’s highlights:
We got off to a good start with birds in the milkwoods, and on the shore, in front of our house., followed by terns at the Onrus tern roost. Water levels at Vermont Pan are exceptionally high at present. So no waders. But plenty of ducks, and three herons (Black-headed, Black-crowned Night, and Grey). The last mentioned, in particular, were really numerous, plus chicks.
Then Hawston Settling Ponds, where we had a great, short distance opportunity to ID a Grey-headed Gull, and distinguish it readily from the many Hartlaubs. Among other species there, we watched a Levaillant’s Cisticola enjoying a worm for breakfast. Next was Die Eiland where we met the only other birders (from BLO) we saw doing BBDay. A nice selection of waders to make up for their absence at Vermont Pan. And also great close up views of the striking Caspian Terns.
Plus Flamingoes, which are not at Vermont Pan at present. The wind was a bit of a challenge there, and we didn’t see the Pectoral Sandpiper, or Ruffs which had been there earlier in the week.
Meerensee was a bit dissappointing and we didn’t add much there, but it was a nice spot to enjoy mid-morning coffee and snacks before going on to Fisherhaven. The suprise at Fisherhaven, was that we got two birds which one would normally associate with dry country, inland birding, namely Grey-backed Cisticola, and Plain-backed Pipit. And also a Pin-tailed Whydah, one of those hit and miss species.
And finally, our most rewarding part, the Kaarwyderskraal area. First up, a couple of White-faced Ducks on a pond we’d never seen before. Then, thanks to Barbara pinning down the call, a Common Quail. Then Blue Cranes, and so on. A Common Buzzard – the only one of the day – a White Stork, and our Bird of the Day, a Denham’s Bustard! A great conclusion to what had been a most enjoyable and rewarding day. So after birding for ‘only’ 6 hours, we called it a day. We finished with a total of 84 species, which we felt was pretty good. Entries to the event only close on 5 December, so we’ll only know then how we rated.
And we got back in plenty of time to see the Blitsboks thrash the USA in the Dubai Rugby Sevens final!
Come on Hermanus Bird Club members, lets have lots more entries next year! Not only was it fun , but a great way of re-inforcing your birding skills.
28 November 2021