Good Birding at Appel se Dam, Stanford

This morning Renee and I went to Appel se Dam in Stanford, as we had seen a report of a Fulvous Whistling Duck having been seen there. We were not disappointed and saw the bird immediately, albeit at a great distance. It was a very exciting sight, as it is well out of range and a real rarity in this part of the world.

We also saw White-backed Ducks, Yellow-billed Ducks, Common Moorhen, Red-billed Coot and African Darter. On recent visits to the site, there have been almost no birds, so we were very pleased with what we saw!

Birding on the West Coast

Helen and I have just returned after spending a week staying in a cottage at Dwarskersbos. The small coastal village is twelve km north of the Berg River mouth and is ideally situated for birding on that section of the coast.

The salt marshes upstream of Velddrif were alive with migrant waders on their annual feeding spree during our summer – also plenty of resident species as well. There were literally thousands of flamingos –  both Greater and Lesser as well as hundreds of Black-necked Grebes.

Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, Common Greenshanks aplenty. Also a solitary hungry Pelican hopefully patrolling in front of the Bokkom fishery further upstream.

Of interest is the boardwalk and picnic area at Velddrif which has finally been repaired. 

We spent one day in the hides at Geelbek on the Langebaan Lagoon. One has to time the tides well to ensure that the little waders move close to you.

Between the Berg River and Geelbek we saw large numbers of the smaller waders. Three-banded, Kitlitz’s, White Fronted and Common Ringed Plovers, Curlew and Marsh Sandpipers, Sanderlings, Little Stints and Grey Plovers. And a real surprise! A number of Ruddy Turnstones. No idea what they were doing there because there were certainly no stones on the sand banks.

Amongst the larger birds seen were Whimbrel, Black Harrier and great views of a Black Korhaan.  

There was the usual selection of Raptors – Jackal Buzzard, Fish Eagle, Common Buzzard, Yellow-Billed Kite, Black-Shouldered Kite and Rock Kestrel.

Also a nice sighting on a farm dam were a number of Whiskered Terns.

One day we drove northwards to Verlorenvlei. On the way we passed Rocherpan but it was totally dry. The Vlei had very little water and not many birds. We crossed to the northern side of the river and traveled inland a bit. There was quite a bit of water inland but no birds!  

Nevertheless, it was a really enjoyable and productive week and a nice break from home. Our Bird Count was 91 species.

A few pics attached.

Mike and Helen Mac Naught 

BIRDING AT ROOISAND

John Bowman sent this through;

Last weekend  Sheelagh and I decided to do some birding at Rooisand. The main objective was to see if we could find the Pectoral Sandpiper, an unusual visitor to the area , which had been hanging around there for some weeks. But it was a lovely day, and some general birding there seemed a good idea.

And so it turned out. We didn’t find the Pectoral Sandpiper, although it had been spotted earlier in the day. However, the birding generally was  most enjoyable and rewarding. The water level in the Bot River Lagoon is very high. This means that it’s not far to stroll from the parking area to the shore. And the channel from the main lagoon to the hide is also full, with plenty of water in front of the hide. Also water in the vlei to the West of the boardwalk. So there are plenty of waders and other waterbirds very accessible to the birder.Be aware, the dirt road down from the tar to the parking area is also quite muddy.

Top of the pops in terms of sightings was a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit! The first time we have ever seen one in the Overberg. Photo attached. Note the finely barred tail, one of the features distinguishing it from a Black-tailed Godwit. Among the  many other birds we saw were Common Ringed and Kittlitz’s Plovers, Caspian Terns,  Greater Flamingoes, African Spoonbills , and even a couple of Blue Cranes. And, no less than 18 wild horses! Altogether a  great morning. Also, very useful for the Migrant Challenge.

I haven’t heard of any cases of crime in the area recently. But it certainly pays to be careful, and not leave valuables in your vehicle, as the signs warn.  And at the weekend there were several other birders and others around.

John Bowman

11 November 2021

Dwarf Bittern in Sandbaai

We were alerted earlier in the week, by Cape Rare Bird Alert on Telegram, to the presence of a very rare visitor to Sandbaai. A Dwarf Bittern! This bird is normally only found in the Northern parts of South Africa, with only a handful of sightings in the Western Cape, over the years. So this was quite exciting! We had seen one a long time ago in Mkuze, KZN, with only poor views. So we went looking for the bird, having no luck on Saturday, but with great views to-day. What a striking bird it is! Definitely worth looking for. Currently in a wetland in a green belt in Jimmy Smith Street, Sandbaai.

John and Sheelagh Bowman

22 August 2021

SWART RIVIER ROAD BIRDING AT PRESENT

After a few days of real Cape winter weather, cold and plenty of rain, on Wednesday Sheelagh and I decided to do some birding along the Swart Rivier Road; and very interesting it proved to be. Talk about water, water everywhere! In 20 years of birding in that area, we have never seen so much water lying around, which changed the whole character of the place. The little bridge across the stream, half way along the road was totally submerged – see photo. We could probably have continued in our 4×4 but decided to turn around and  rather explore some of the side roads, and the views  from these roads of the snow capped mountains in the distance were quite something. So the birding part of the drive became secondary to the environmental aspects. We did see a nice sprinkling of bush birds, but surprisingly , with all that water around, water birds were not very much in evidence. We did pick up a couple of African Fish Eagles overhead, and  towards the end of the road, on a fence next to an ‘informal dam’, lovely close up views of a Malachite Kingfisher, with the wind ruffling his ‘hair’- see photo. Appropriately, the Afrikaans name for the bird is ’Kuifkopvisvanger’!

On a nice sunny  winter’s day, it’s well worth the drive.

John Bowman

17 July 2021

Great Sighting!!

Frank Hallett sent me his photos for the previous post, and I was unaware that they contained a Southern Pochard until after I had published, so I repeat the image here and extend my congratulations to him for a very fine photograph. It depicts a pair and the differences between the male, with the red eye, and the female, are quite evident!

September Challenge Results

We only had 8 teams (11 people out of a membership of over 200) in the September Challenge, causing me to ask, “Is anybody in this club really interested in birding?” Thanks to all of you who did participate. It is always fun and stimulating to have a goal. As a group we managed to identify a total of 166 species. Well done!!

Coerie was our winner with 136 species recorded in the restricted area, followed by Ronnie with 127. For me the most interesting sightings occurred at the end of the month, two Southern Tchagras and a Cape Rockjumper in the fynbos at Fisherhaven, near the eastern edge of the lagoon. The latter was of particular interest since I have never seen a Rockjumper anywhere but on a mountain.

The full results are on the appended spreadsheet below;