We did our 38th bi-annual Wader Count on Sat morning at 11am. We had to meet at 10am and I decided that it would be a good idea to get there early and go to Abrahamskraal (the only fresh water hole) early for a change.
What a treat it was! We had 33 species from the hide in less than an hour including 10+Black Crake and one adult African Rail opposite the hide. One Juv on the right of the hide where the Yellow Canaries come down to drink 3m away!!!!!!!!!! And none of them wanted to go away for at least 30min. A Black Harrier flew over from the southern end and now there was a dilemma……. what do you watch, the Rail or the Harrier????? Eventually the Harrier won and after a short stay on the ground flew off and we watched the Crakes & Rail again. One of my pics has 2 Black Crakes and one African Rail in the same frame. How cool is that!
Some other birds were SA Shelduck, Spoonbill, Sacred Ibis, Yellow-billed Duck,Cape Shoveller and Cape Teal. Lesser Swamp & Little Rush Warblers, Common Waxbill and Yellow & White-throated Canaries were all near the water. Brown-throated Martin & White-throated Swallow skimmed the water and Bokmakierie, Grey-backed Cisticola and Cape Bunting were heard from the scrub. A lone Black-shouldered Kite scanned the surroundings as if he owned it!
Then the count started and one of the first birds we saw on our way to our starting point near the white cliffs and “windmill” was an Osprey with a fish. This bird I was able to watch the whole 3hrs that I was counting as it cruised over and dove into the lagoon. Time we put up a breeding platform for Osprey! My selection of Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Little Stint,Greenshank( 20+), Grey Plover( 30+) were in various stages of breeding plumage. Kittlitz’s Plovers were plentiful and made up the South African contingent. CapeLongclaw, Large-billed Lark and Cape Wagtail were the ground contingent seen. None of the White Pelicans, Sacred Ibis or African Spoonbills that I was able to see clearly was ringed. Pity! A sub adult Fish Eagle flew over and later 2 adult Fish Eagles were seen flying from the Church Haven side. Strange to see Jackal Buzzard over the lagoon flats. Another strange sighting was an African Darter in salt water, I suppose fish is fish!
After our count and on our way to Geelbek Manor House we saw African Marsh Harrier, Rock Kestrel and Steppe Buzzard. African Hoopoe, Le Valiant’s Cisticola, Cape & Masked Weaver, Rock Martin were seen round the Manor house. Birds not seen or heard was Grey-winged Francolin, thought we should have heard them near Abrahamskraal, Karoo Lark and no Cardinal Woodpecker. The total species seen in the pentad was 73
On our home we added Booted Eagle and Black Sparrowhawk to our raptor list. 11 for the day….not bad at all.