A Visit to Intaka

hartlaubs gull in flight

The day started off as any 29’C day should, with an early morning rising. Well it was a partially early morning rising, we got out of bed at around 7:30 and got ready to head out to Intaka Island. With money tight, as it often is – we couldn’t venture too far and I hadn’t been to Intaka in a good 6 or so months, and with the Bailon’s Crake and Ethiopian Snipe seen there over the past couple months, I was hoping for something special. I still have not managed to come across a Little Bittern, so I was at least hoping that I’d find one today. Other than that, Cathryn is a quite a fan of Kingfishers and with her malachite coloured hair – I at least wanted to try give her the opportunity to get some close up shots of her avian look-alikes.

We arrived at Intaka Island at 09:00 and went through the education center, paid our fees and went out to the ponds, though not before seeing some hybrid Mallards and a White Throated Swallow by the car park.

white throated swallow
White Throated Swallow

We were welcomed by two annoying Egyptian Geese sitting on the roof busy making a noise, followed by the usual seen of Red-Knobbed Coots in the waters below. Lesser Swamp Warblers were abundant, but as so often they case – rarely ventured from the comfort of their reeds. Proceeding on we had Hartlaub’s Gulls constantly passing over head with the occasional Laughing Dove and Red-Eyed Dove. We saw a few Cape Sparrows in the trees, along with the usual Cape White Eyes chirping from all corners.

laughing dove
Laughing Dove

red eyed dove
Red Eyed Dove
hartlaubs eating
Hartlaub’s Gull with its mouth stuffed


We walked past the second pond which was filled with Red-Knobbed Coots building their nests. A few African Darters and Grey Herons were also present on this area of water. A few Little Grebes, some in and some out of breeding plumage. Cormorants were in and out of the water, and a humorous moment occurred when a Hartlaub’s came past being chased by another, the one being chased though, had its mouth stuffed with something, something very large too. And we couldn’t stop laughing at this bird with his mouth extended probably three times wider than it should be, stuffed with this food that the other gull was obviously wanting a part of.

On the way to the Kingfisher hide we encountered a Karoo Prinia which was showing quite nicely, as they tend to often do.

karoo prinia
Karoo Prinia

southern red bishop
Southern Red Bishop
southern masked weaver
Southern Masked Weaver
lesser swamp warbler
Lesser Swamp Warbler

lesser swamp warbler intaka
Lesser Swamp Warbler

In the hide, as can be expected on a Saturday morning, there were a number of other ‘birders’ (I use the term loosely) who came in and out. The Kingfishers had apparently been showing earlier, but we had missed them, none the less we stuck around and hoped. We got visuals of the usual Martins flying around, and the resident Purple Heron which was in stealth mode in the reeds. The Lesser Swamp Warblers were showing fairly decent in the beginning, but remained quite far away from us in the hide. Though later these Warblers showed extremely well and even came onto the Kingfisher perches, at time two of them even displayed together. We also got some nice views of a Southern Red Bishop and a Southern Masked Weaver eating a caterpillar.

At one stage a series of Egyptian Geese came to the hide and one decided it was also now a bird small enough to perch on the Kingfisher perches, it looked quite silly to put it simply.

egyptian goose
Egyptian Goose

After a lot of waiting, but no success – we gave up on the idea of the Kingfishers returning and left Intaka, no new lifers for me – but some of the best shots I’ve managed to get of Lesser Swamp Warblers, which was satisfying.

hartlaubs gull in flight
Hartlaub’s Gull in Flight

european starling
European/Common Starling at Sea Point
cape wagtail
Cape Wagtail at Sea Point
immature kitlitz plover
Immature Kitlitz Plover at Sea Point

kitlitz plover immature
Immature Kitlitz Plover at Sea Point

We were then on the way home when I suggested that we perhaps head to Sea Point and see if the surfers were out, to give us something else to shoot. The seas were flat though, but we were greeted by a Common Starling near the car park, who seemed to have his jaw stuck on ‘open’ for a good few minutes. Further down on the beach we came across the usual Cape Wagtails and numerous what looked to be Immature Kitlitz Plovers, just starting to develop their adult plumage. Hartlaub’s Gulls passed over our heads almost every other second, and the rocks showed some Cape Cormorants and a single African Oystercatcher.


We were then soon off back home, and albeit a fairly quiet day – it was good to get out of the house and to better some common species shots.

One thought on “A Visit to Intaka

  1. Love your early rising – at 7.30!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    So glad you found the Lesser Swamp, and nice pics too.
    Also really like the juv Kittlitz, they are one of my favourites.

    Heide and I went to the Hammerkops’ nest on Friday and sat from 4.30 till 7pm dead quiet in the hopes of seeing the juv and adults returning. The juv appeared at about 6.30 and at 7 when it was dark, shot into the nest hole. But no sign of the adults which I found very strange.

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