TBC Outing to West Coast National Park – 13 March 2021
26 Members met at the gate of the Park, at 07:00. There was a queue to get in, and beautiful
haemanthus flowers next to the fence. We went straight to the Geelbek hide, and for once the
weather and tide was spot on! Along the boardwalk Common Ringed plover, with black breast band and orange base to the bill – was sporting its breeding colours. Kittlitz’s plover and some Curlew Sandpiper were also showing crisp changing colours.
In the hide we had a good parade of waders. A Grey plover was looking smart with its new black
belly and sides. Little stints, Sanderling and a few Ruddy Turnstone were seen well. Highlight for
many was seeing a Common Whimbrel and a much larger Eurasian Curlew wading side by side.
Wendel was reminding us that the long bill of the E.Curlew is 3-4x the length of the head! This being our largest wader! Whimbrels were common, and the stripes on their heads –were seen well. Greenshank with its sturdy upturned bill, outnumbered the petite Marsh Sandpiper with its needle like bill.
Ettienne’s group managed to see Bar-tailed Godwit, Red Knot and African Fish-Eagle from the second hide. At the main hide a young birder alerted us to an Osprey flying by, which had all the waders scattering all over. It was nice to see Terns, Little Egret, Greater Flamingo and a pair of S.A. Shelduck amongst the mix of waders.
Next a walk up the avenue towards the Geelbek Manor house – caused much excitement when we first heard then saw a pair of Cardinal Woodpecker, flying to and fro their nest. The female is really well camouflaged. Bokmakierie and Hoopoe were a nice addition to the birds seen along this stretch.
Next we went to Abrahamskraal hide, where the usual ducks and Spoonbills, were seen. A Black
Crake with a little fluffball of a baby was wonderful to see. The African Rail which had been seen by Jenny earlier did not appear. Later a few of our Members were in the hide watching the Crake and only later when going through their pics at home, realised they had photographed the illusive African Rail – unknowingly!!
Some groups went to Seeberg hide, or walked to the Salt marshes some distance from the Geelbek ‘stables’. Others went on to Tsaarsbank and the Plankiesbaai picnic area. A nice outing was ended with good views of Oystercatchers, Cormorants and a group of Sanderling chasing the waves on the beach. A ‘Pink’ gull was colourful, as a result of getting some iron ore on its plumage. 91 different bird species were seen. As always it is special to see the ‘waders’ before they fly back North – some of them covering up to 15 000km every year from the breeding grounds in the Siberian Tundra to come and feed in the Langebaan Lagoon.