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CAMP – VELDDRIF – 10 March 2023
Our Summer camp was to Kuifkopvisvanger, at Velddrif. After unseasonal rain the week before, we
were delighted that the weather had improved. The cottages are along the Berg River, with islands
appearing at low tide. ‘Armchair birding’, was great off our verandah. Eurasian Curlew, Greenshank,
Whimbrel and Grey Plover were the 1 st birds seen. Beverley and I had superb views, of a Western
Osprey catching a fish in the River near to us. The farm is sandy and Karoo Scrub-Robin, Pied Starling,
Namaqua Dove and Bokmakierie were seen regularly around the cottages.
Saturday morning started with rain!! Brian and Dalene Vanderwalt joined us, to go birding at the
neighbouring Kliphoek salt pans. Here Little Terns flew around – showing how they got their name!
They really are miniature terns. Caspian Tern, Avocet, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint and Chestnut-
banded Plover were seen well. The convoy of cars started towards the lower pans – when alas –
Brian’s vehicle (at the front) got horribly stuck. Due to the rain, the salty mud caked his wheels and
we could not go further. Plans were changed, and we all went off to Laaiplek harbour and to
‘Bokkomlaan’ in Velddrif. Pied Kingfisher and White Pelican were numerous here.
During the afternoon the group went birding on Kuifkop farm. The ‘famous’ Barn Owl in the garden,
was visited by all. Pearl-breasted and Barn Swallows were seen well. More than 40 Common Ringed
Plover roosted together on shallow islands near the river – all in breeding! A Little Egret heronry at
the Main house – was comical to watch! We also watched Little Egret follow African Spoonbill –
whilst hunting – following to catch the easy pickings, stirred up by the Spoonbills. A communal braai
was held at Bleshoender cottage – with lots of laughs and comparison of nice bird sightings that day.
On Sunday morning – Jan Kotze took us back to the Kliphoek salt pans. Taking a different route – we
went straight to where Red-necked phalarope were to be seen! A ‘lifer’ for quite a few in the group.
With better weather – waders were enjoyed at leisure!! Kittlitz’s and Chestnut-banded plover were
seen really close-up. Stars were a group of three Red-necked phalarope feeding together, with one
bird going into breeding plumage!!! These small birds were seen really well!! Was also nice to see
Little, Black-necked and Great Crested Grebe all in one section of the pans.
Other nice birds seen were Ruff, African Hoopoe, Peregrine and Lanner Falcon, Common Buzzard,
Black-winged Kite and Blue Crane. The weekend tally of birds ended at 115 species. As we packed up
5 or 6 Southern Double-collared Sunbird were drinking from a dripping tap – reminding us how dry
the West Coast is at the moment. The weekend camp, was enjoyed by us all.
Brigid Crewe

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