Tuesday 30 January 2018

The never-ending Wheatear mission

A top target for my trip to South Africa at the end of last year was Capped Wheatear, and Mick and I devoted many hours to trying to get decent images of them. We saw our first on day 1 in some farmland near Strandfontein, but it was not possible to get close and in any event we really needed to be birding the water treatment works and not mucking about with Wheatears. We did remark on how smart they appeared though, and this thoroughly whetted our appetite for more over the following days. 

It was a tad damp

We saw some the next day as well, again in agricultural land, in the Darling Hills to the northwest of Cape Town. We managed to get a bit closer but the weather was somewhat trying in the morning, and when we returned at the end of the day after the rain and in night light the birds were not playing ball at all. Still, one of my favourite images comes from this brief stint, a bird does not always need to be at point blank range and I really like the sense of habitat - so much so that at the time of writing I am using it as my blog header. This is the one below.

Day 3 was a Capped Wheatear free day, but the next day we really started to get into their territory as we travelled into the Overberg. We spent an inordinate amount of time along a particular stretch of fence line that held a confiding pair somewhere north of Malgas, but try as we might we could not get them to land on anything other than wire or a post. We went as far as putting rocks on every single post for about 200m but the birds simply refused to use them. We had some very close images due to using the car as a hide, and whilst they were not quite what we wanted the quality was nonetheless on the up.

That evening and the following morning we struck gold. On the short-cropped grass outside our cottage at the De Hoop Collection were numerous Capped Wheatears. Initially I spent a bit of time with a juvenile whilst some Cape Mountain Zebra grazed nearby, and later on I found an obliging adult nearer to the main building in the last of the light. Seeing these Mick then opted to spend the following morning having a crack - his fantastic series is here. In his case all previous images got deleted, but I am partial to a nice post or bit of wire and have kept quite a few....

1 comment:

  1. In best Homer Simpson voice...."Mmmmmm....Wheatears....."