Wednesday 27 December 2017

South Africa: Day 5

Day 5:
Make or break this morning, probably our last chance for photography given that we would likely be driving back to Cape Town during the afternoon period. As such we got up early to get the sunrise, and so peering through the curtains in the half light to judge the clarity of the day I was astounded to see several Zebra wandering around the cottages. Superb! 

Mick headed off on Mission Wheatear (I have turned him!) and this time I went into the Milkwood thickets to try and find Knysna Woodpecker - a specialty tick from round these parts. This was almost an immediate success when a bird flew between trees, and I also found loads of Southern Tchagra. With the light now acceptable for using the camera I then went back to the boat house to see if there were any Giant Kingfishers around. There were not! I contented myself with trying to get quality images of anything I could find, and discovered a good situation just above the Vlei where I could use the water as a background by raising my position slightly. The soft morning light was really nice and I managed to get photos of Malachite Sunbird, Speckled Mousebird, Karoo Prinia, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Wagtail, Southern Fiscal and Cape Bulbul.

Cape Wagtail

Malachite Sunbird. I'd like to visit earlier and get these in breeding plumage!

Karoo Prinia

Southern Fiscal

Cape Bulbul

Meeting up with Mick at breakfast I could see he was pleased too - not surprising really as he had spent the entire morning with the Capped Wheatears and they do have that effect on people! Not needing to back in Cape Town until 6pm, we headed back to Potberg to see if we were early enough to catch the Cape Vultures heading out, and happily we got good views of half a dozen birds cruising above the reserve and gradually getting higher and higher as the air warmed up. Still no Secretary Birds though, so we decided to devote the rest of the morning to seeing if we could find any Bustards in the arable landscape. To cut a long story short we spent over two hours slowly crawling up and down country roads scanning the fields and drew a complete blank! 

African Pipit

Heading west out of De Hoop we had a quick lunch in Bredasdorp and then pointed the car directly at Strandfontein in order to spend a bit more time birding this fantastic area. It was as good as before, and we managed to add a couple more species to the trip list - African Swamphen and Hottentot Teal. There were also some Maccoa Ducks which we had missed the first time around, so in the end we probably saw almost all the available ducks here. I think we were both photographed out by this point however, and so neither of us really took any images here, instead just enjoying the place for what it was. With our time up we changed and packed up before driving the short distance to the airport and returning our very dusty car. In the airport we managed to get showers in the lounge before settling down aboard a full 747 for a good sleep on the way to London, and like many of my trips I was at my desk in Canary Wharf by half nine the next morning! 

Cape Teal

Hottentot Teal

Kelp Gull

African Sacred Ibis

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