Southern Double Collared Sunbird
I have been in South Africa for the last week, the last 7 days have sped by and as normal, I haven't had even a second to spare to write the Blog. The adventure started on the car journey from the International Airport when the first birds seen were Greater Flamingo and amongst them, Stilt on the Black River just before you get in to the metropolitan area. If any bird could give you an indication of what is awaiting you, then surely it is the sight of 200 pink exotic birds, seemingly out of context on a muddy, sadly litter strewn waterway with ramshackle huts nearby and the distant backdrop of high rise buildings giving you your first contradiction - South Africa is full of contradictions. I was to see Flamingo several times in the next few days, but at the time it was a frustration, and it always is - I have seen them there every time we pass by - to know that I hadn't, as yet, taken good photographs of this iconic bird.
Over the weekend we enjoyed the sights, sounds and food and of course wine but birds are a pretty backdrop to every banquet, sometimes the mundane masquerades as a rarity, Cape Town has endemics to get the juices flowing and any first time visitor to the area will add numerous ticks to his or her life list. Even the local Wagtail is an endemic and the Hartlaubs Gull flocks in pest like proportions at every beach and waterfront restaurant in spite of its rarity in world terms. The waterfront building where one buys Robben Island tickets is far more interesting to birders than a mere temple to Nelson Mandela and African bureaucratic petulance, it's the home to a large colony of Swift Tern. Drinking coffee whilst sat at a waterfront cafe could give you 3 endemics, Swift Tern and Fur Seal, not a bad way to spend 30 minutes. Travel just a few miles north up the road that hugs the shore line towards the Western Cape National Park and now you will open up a veritable Pandora's box of delights. On the journey, more flamingo, African Sacred Ibis, Cattle Egret are constantly seen and at the first wetland area, still with Table a Mountain as a backdrop there are flocks of White Pelican, again stills, various ducks and geese and of course Cape Gull, the South African sub species of Kelp a Gull. On the long straight road towards the town of Langebaan we enjoyed the spectacle of Yellow Billed Kite on there roadside fence perches, not one but one every mile or so, sometimes three or four just a hundred or so yards apart. The Western Cape National Park is where I eventually got close views of Greater Flamingo, but I also added lifetime ticks with 3 banded Plover and photos of Kilitz Plover particularly rewarding. I had missed out on this species previously in Gambia. I also photographed Cardinal Woodpecker, African Paradise Flycatcher and a very accommodating Rock Kestrel sat obligingly on the restaurant roof during our coffee break.
Green Point Park is home to the World Cup Stadium and also a very attractive park with water that adjoins an 18 hole golf course. It’s very close to our accommodation and a great place to see all the common birds. Malachite and Pied Kingfisher, Cape Weaver and Levielant’s Cisticola are easily seen on most visits.
Also within the City are the Kirstenbosch Botanical gardens, a dream venue for horticulturalists and birders alike. Sunbirds are easily spotted and photographed here and this is a place that I visit as often as I can.
More to follow!