Rather spontaniously, on Sunday morning Cathryn and I decided that we would take the trip through to Paarl Bird Sanctuary. I knew that she still need both White Faced and Fulvous Ducks and what better place to find them, earlier in the week the Fulvous had been reported, so things were looking good to get her a couple of new ticks. We left a bit late, at around 10:00, arriving there near 11:00.
On route we noted at least 4 Black Shouldered Kites along the telephone wires on the way, along the R101. We arrived, signed in and went straight to the nearest set of ponds, where the Fulvous usually are. While there we located a couple of Malachite Kingfishers in the small concrete isles of water on the left. The usual residents were all present, numerous Grey Headed Gulls, Hartlaub’s Gulls, Red-Knobbed Coots, Little Grebes etc. Other birds seen at the first pond included African Black Duck and Red-Billed Teal. Between 20 and 30 Flamingos were also present on and around these ponds.
It wasn’t long before we located the Fulvous Ducks, a pair that were sticking close to the reeds – on the wrong side of the light and far from us. While the conditions weren’t great for photographs, I was able to grab some photographs to add to the fun little facebook group revolving around images of birds taken in 2013. We managed to see a number of White Faced Ducks also present at these first two ponds, along with five to ten Water Thick-Knees.
It was then on to the next pan, we stopped and scanned but it was dead quiet – well, apart from the sound of the Lesser Swamp Warblers. Moving on we saw some White-Breasted and Reed Cormorants, along with one or two African Darters. A single African Spoonbill was also present on one of the islands in the water. A few Southern Pochards were seen, but no signs of the Maccoa.
I was personally targetting Hottentot Teal and Great Crested Grebe for myself, two species that have continued to evade me, despite numerous attempts.
The distinct sound of a calling African Fish Eagle resonated through the sewage works for about 30 minutes, though it was coming from within the clump of trees bordering the ‘sanctuary’. It was on the fringe of these trees though, that we got some fairly nice views of a Cape Grysbok.
Despite spending another hour or so looking around, things remained quiet and we only saw a single raptor – a Jackal Buzzard circling in the distance. We decided to head home at around 14:00. On the way home however, things became more interesting than the visit itself in that we were offered more photographic opportunities.
On the R101 leading from Paarl towards Stellenbosch we came across a Black Shouldered Kite which I pulled over for, in an attempt to get some decent photographs of it. We also stopped and turned around for some silhouetted raptors at a distance which turned out to be White Necked Ravens. Then later, on the R304 we came across another Buzzard, which didn’t behave at all like Buzzards usually do. We stopped the car about 10 meters from the bird, and I got out of the car and got closer and to my amazement, the bird never took flight. It let me get right under it and to a point where I had to step back to get the bird in the frame. This Buzzard could be a Mystery Buzzard, a uniform light brown colour with no signs of darkening around the head. Though the eyebrow is quite heavy, similar to a Jackal Buzzard. The light eye indicates that this bird, is a Juvenile bird.
It ended up being a good few hours out and we both managed to get a few targets, mine being photographic targets for the facebook challenge group – and Cathryn, new lifers, to catch up to my life list.