L’AGULHAS CAMP – 23 to 25 February 2018

L’Agulhas is an attractive coastal town, 230km from Cape Town. 32 Members joined us for the weekend. We stayed in the L’Agulhas caravan park, in small 4 bed chalets. It rained on Friday evening, so many of us enjoyed a take-away of fish and chips at a local shop around the corner. 

The convoy of cars set off at 8:00 on Saturday for De Mond Nature Reserve, situated between Arniston and Struisbaai. This reserve is best known for its breeding colony of Damara Terns. The convoy of cars were treated to good sightings of a group of 12 Denham’s Bustard, Blue Cranes and a Secretary Bird and many Barn Swallows along the way. Some rain was predicted, so the group quickly set off across the ‘hanging bridge’ at De Mond for quite a long walk to the beach. 

With great excitement a pair of feeding small Damara Tern were spotted. These near threatened breeding migrants, come down the coast from Nigeria, Cameroon and Sierra Leone, South to S. Africa. 1 chick from De Mond, was recovered alive 10 months later almost 5000 km away in Benin, West Africa. We think due to the heavy winds ahead of the rain, a group of adult birds were seen sitting at the water’s edge, for all of us to have really great views. It was a lifer for many of the group. Helene Thompson went to De Mond a few months ago, and did not see 1 bird on that visit. The Cape Nature ranger on duty, told her that the birds were feeding nearer to Arniston, and had not been seen for a full week!! So we were lucky – very lucky indeed!! Peak breeding at De Mond is from October to January. Human disturbance by fishermen, is the biggest threat to these birds. 

The rain caught up with us, so we headed back to picnic under the trees at the office section. On the way back we hunted for Agulhas Long-billed Lark, without success. The drought was evident all round, but many Steppe and Jackal Buzzard were still seen, and groups of Blue Crane. Once back at Struisbaai, many of the group went to the attractive small boat harbour to try and see the resident ‘rays’ – who glide along the seabed so gracefully. There were nice walks near the caravan park and many of us enjoyed the scenery and good views of Gannet along the shoreline. 

The Saturday evening braai, was held at a combination of 3 of the units, and much fun and laughter was enjoyed, in between a rain shower or two. The weather improved so all could braai successfully. Ralph Wordon still joked to David Newton to not be too willing to braai for the ladies, as he might be busy all evening! The men all helped! 

On Sunday morning many of us had a lovely walk along the coast and then up to the L’Agulhas lighthouse area. They have built some wonderful boardwalks, all the way to the Southern-most point of the continent of Africa! Many good photos were taken there. Birding was best near the lighthouse, with wonderful views of Bokmakierie, Speckled Mousebird, Cape Grassbird and for a few lucky people a Plain-backed Pipit. Thank you to Ettienne Kotze and Marianna who kindly took me on a recce of the area 2 weeks earlier. They also had 3 members share their home for the weekend. 

This part of the Overberg is very beautiful, and we look forward going back to the Agulhas National Park on another weekend in the Springtime. Many of us returned home the scenic route via Elim, Gansbaai, Hermanus and Rooi Els. A nice weekend was had, especially for seeing the Damara Terns so well!! 
Brigid Crewe