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Kuifkopvisvanger Farm, Velddrif– 15 to 17 March 2024

Excitement grew for TBC members going on a camp to Kuifkopvisvanger Farm at Velddrif. White-backed Pelican welcomed us to Bokkomlaan at Velddrif. Heading to the farm, the entrance road was a good place to see Capped Wheatear, Large-billed Lark and Lanner Falcon. Some of the group saw a juvenile Lanner – and others were lucky to see two adult birds!!!
The cottages at Kuifkop are spread out – up above the Berg River. The tide was in our favour and straight away many WADERS were seen. Grey Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint and Common Ringed Plover showing lovely breeding colours. Sanderling were easier to identify out of breeding, than in breeding colour. Many Eurasian Curlew were seen, but only one Bar-tailed Godwit. As the tide goes out many sandy islands appear in the river, and the waders love this area. We could see Greater Flamingo from our lounge – truly wonderful!!
The next morning Jan Kotze from Kuifkop, accompanied us to Kliphoek Salt pans. Many visitor’s had got stuck on the roads of the Pans – the previous week. If there is just a tiny bit of rain – the salt becomes very slippery. Jan was kept busy pulling people out. Kliphoek is a working mine, and we are thankful that the owner still allows birders onto the property. Whilst there - a huge truck with salt was leaving and we all had to pull off the road.
The highlight always at Kliphoek pans, is the rare Red-necked Phalarope. It was coming into breeding colour and has been seen here for 10 years now!! Many Chestnut-banded and Kittlitz’s Plovers were seen. Our car was lucky to see a Black Harrier flying past. Kliphoek also have large numbers of Caspian Tern. On leaving this site– many Pearl-breasted Swallow were seen on the road.
Bonus of staying on Kuifkop farm – was watching waders and bush birds from our Cottages. Sitting on our camping chairs near the water’s edge – made this all the more special. A Western Osprey and Marsh Harrier also gave some of us nice views!!
On the Sunday morning we did a trip on the ‘Cracklin Rosie’ boat – up the Berg River. Was nice to see lots of Pied Kingfishers, Darters, Black-crowned Night-Heron, ducks and coot. Those sitting at the front were lucky to see a Goliath Heron fly off ahead of the boat. Our combined tally of birds came to 103 for the weekend. We hope the Waders have fuelled up enough, for their long journey back to the Palearctic grounds where most of them breed. Quite a remarkable round trip every year.
A most enjoyable weekend was once more had by all.
Brigid Crewe

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