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West Coast Birding Trip on Friday 10th Feb

Hi All,

We decide to go straight to the Geelbek hide at West Coast National Park as the outgoing tide would be ideal and what a good move that was.  A few Steppe Buzzards and Yellow-billed Kites were sitting in the taller trees on the West Coast highway and were eagerly awaiting small rodents to break cover.  

Waders close to the Geelbek hide were; Little Stint, Common Ringed, White-fronted and Chestnut-banded Plovers.  Many more C-B Plovers than W-F Plovers…which was unusual. Grey Plover, Ruddy Turnstone and Curlew Sandplover were amongst the small groups of Sanderling hastily feeding on the receding tide.  Further out Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank and Common Whimbrel were feeding in the deeper water. An Osprey flew away from the lagoon carrying a fish in its talons, obviously to eat it’s food in peach away from the pestering Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gulls.  Two Caspian Terns came fairly close to the hide and their red bills stood out very well.  A group of White Pelican lazily glided over the lagoon on their way to the Langebaan islands.

We moved on to the scrub and trees near the Geelbek Manor house and found a female Cardinal Woodpecker in the Blue Gum trees and an African Hoopoe probing the lawned area.  Cape Weaver and non breeding Yellow Bishop were being real pests in the uncovered sugar bowls at the restaurant.  Scanning the short scrub revealed Karoo Scrub-robin and Karoo Prinia and Southern Double-collared and Malachite Sunbirds were frantically feeding on the flowering Gums.

Abrahamskraal water hole was next on the list.  On the way a Bokmakierie was calling loudly from the top of a scrub and a pair of Cape Longclaw “meowed” as they flew away from us.  At the water hole, Red-knobbed Coot and Common Moorhen and Little Grebe were the main players here. A lone Black Crake made a fleeting call to the waters edge before it retreated back into the reeds.

A BIG surprise was the Goliath Heron that we flushed out of the reed bed when we arrived.  This was surely a new bird for the Park.  It flew across the pond water and landed on the far bank where it proceeded to watch our every move from behind a 1m high scrub!  Brown-throated Martin and White-throated Swallow skimmed across the water for any flying food.  A lone Three-banded Plover darted after insects on the waters edge. The usual Egyptian Geese were complemented with Cape Teal, Cape Shoveller and Yellow-billed Duck as well as a pair of SA Shelduck.  Three African Spoonbills sat quietly on the bank sleeping, amazing the pink legs and bluish spoonbills.

A light lunch was had in Langebaan Village and thereafter we called at the quarry to see if the Verreauxs’ Eagles were home and yes they were sitting in the shade of the cliffs.  Rock Kestrel, Black Swift, Rock Martin and Greater Striped Swallows were using the upwelling of air in the quarry to good effect.  Pied Starling, Acatia Pied Barbet and Cape Penduline Tit were found amongst the dry scrub on the hillside.  Rufous-vented Titbabbler had us peering into the green tree until it finally popped out to show its dark grey body and red vent, really a smart bird.  A pair of Southern Black Korhaan quietly sat in the shade during the heat of the day.

Moving back through the Park in the late afternoon, a number of Cape Bulbul, White-backed Mousebirds, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cape Sparrow and Yellow Canary were seen in the scrub, whilst a large covey of Cape Spurfowl and Helmited Guineafowl dustily scratching in the leaf litter. 

The Seeberg Hide had a number of Kittlitz’s Plovers on the dry pan, and African Black Oystercatcher, White-breasted Cormorant and Swift Terns roosting and preening on the sandbank.

A lone Yellow-billed Kite was harrased by its cousin the Black Shouldered Kite on the hillside.   No Black Harrier was seen which was not unusual as they dispurse from their breeding area to summer rainfall areas with more food.  

Mammals seen were: Steenbok, Reebok and Red Hartebeest.

A species list of 78 was recorded for the hot windless 32C day.

Brian Vanderwalt

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I have been an avid birder in the Western and Northern Cape for over 45 years. Since 1999, I have guided Day trips and Overnight Tours (5 days or longer), as well as organised Birding weekends and Bird Ringing (Banding) outings. Read more...

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