Spring sightings - Western Cape area - Sept 2010

Hi all,

Report back on few trips around West Coast, Paarl and Tankwa Karoo.

Today saw 8 White-backed Ducks at Dolphin Beach pans, Milnerton

At least 8 sightings of Black Harriers on R27, WCNP and Vredenberg area.  Two were close together so they must have chicks big enough to leave alone.

Had excellent sightings of Cape Long-billed (first time I have seen it do its aerial display 3 times without going to ground), Large billed, Red-capped, Karoo and Cape Clapper Larks, all in 'Lark alley'.  The Clapper moved 100m from top of hill to roadside with 8 aerial 'claps' and did 5 more from the fence pole next to the vehicle.  Excellent video shots taken with sound.  They clapped until 9am and also from 3pm with bright sunshine, just some trivial info!  This road produced, besides the 5 Larks, Sickle-winged Chat, Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, Black-headed, White-throated & Yellow Canaries, Long-billed Crombek, Pied Starling and Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler.  Also seen in the past was Grey Tit, not bad for a dusty road!  The Penduline Tits nest at the quarry has been destroyed by something, pity as it was easy to see them when they came in to feed.

On the link road between Melkbos and N7 a Secretary Bird was seen hunting in the cut fields and a Greater Honeyguide female was found sitting on a fence post watching Pied Starlings entering there nest holes.  It sat long enough for some pics to be taken.  I need to see if it remains at this site.

A White Stork was also seen on the Malans Hoogte Road behind Durbanville neat the dairy farm.  Is this a first for the season or resident, one wonders?

When at Paarl Mt Reserve I looked for Protea Canary and was delighted when one landed a metre away from us on a dried protea and proceeded to pull the seeds stems out looking for one with an edible seed on it.  What fun it was to see this at point blank range. even have it recorded on camera!  Today a Protea Seedeater was seen again but feeding on a white 'cotton-looking' bush, must look it up as this is the 2nd time I have seen them eating it.

Ceres produced a new sighting of Black Harrier past Op-die-berg towards Houdenbek Farm.  I have always thought that there should be BH there.  Now just need to get access so that we can see if they are breeding.  Also one seen on the eastern side of Therons Pass, this is the 2nd time I have seen one there.

The Tankwa Karoo is very dry in parts although some streams and the Doring River are still flowing.  Inverdoorn Dam has receded quite a lot in the past month, but still a number of Flamingos.  Karoo Poort produced Black-headed Canaries, but no Lark-like Buntings.  Found a Layard's Tit babbler building a cup shaped nest fairly low in a small shrub.pics taken of course.  Koptjie (prefer this name to Cinnamon-breasted! - still don't know how they can call it cinnamon?) Warbler was located and seen well at 3 different sites by calling it with it's communication call.works for me.  Fairy Flycatchers, Namaqua Warbler, Pririt Batis, Sickle-winged and Trac-trac Chats and Karoo Eremomela were very active with courting and nesting activities.  The one time I leave my camera in the car the Eremomela sits close to us for a long time..dam Murphy!!!!!! I see that they have cleaned up the Skitterykloof picnic site and also trimmed the trees. I wish they would remove some of the reeds that have now overgrown the pond.  No open water at all!

On one of the days in Swellendam area on the way to the Malgas Pont it was misty and Agulhas Clappers were calling all over the place., but 3 days later at the same time without mist they were silent. Interesting!  Whilst completing a pentad in the area, a pond off an obscure road produced 12 White-faced Ducks. Whilst 2 were seen at the Swellendam sewerage works.  A number of Karoo Korhaans and Denham's Bustards (some displaying) were seen.

At Potberg (De Hoop) I found a Cardinal Woodpecker for the first time and this now brings 3 Woodys for the non indigenous trees!  Who would have thought that Knysna, Olive and Cardinal Woodpeckers would live together?

All I now have to do is to process 18 days of pentads!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Regards,
Brian Vanderwalt