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Monday, December 21, 2015

Things to do when your wife goes to Sante Spa & Resort

My wife loves to visit the local Sante Spa, but I like the birding that the Paarl region offers.  So when she heads off for some pampering, I venture into the lovely vineyards to find myself a few landscape images.  This is what I came up with at our recent visit to Sante in Paarl / Stellenbosch.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Most beautiful flowers of the West Coast National Park

Canon Macro 100 F2.8.  What an amazing lens!

Our son enjoying the spring weather 

Oyster Catchers on the rocks at Potsberg

Floral Carpet

We are not allowed to venture into the fields at Postberg, but this gave me an opportunity to give this floral spectacular scale

Family selfie in the flowers

There is nothing as beautiful as seeing a toddler loving the flowers

Halfway between Cape Town and Langebaan is a lovely road side cafe, worth taking a few minutes to stock up on some snacks and enjoy the touch farm

Red Necked Phalarope, this little one did not migrate back to Canada this year and will spend the rest of the year alone, waiting for his partners to return next September.  Picture taken Velddrift, South Africa

Green Shanks enjoying the salt pans of Velddrift

Monday, August 10, 2015

The birds are back, it must be spring

Happy to have the warm sun shining down on us and its great to see some of the birds are back to be enjoying the spring rays.  We noticed a few swifts and many martins in the air too, but no swallows yet.

 The Southern Pochards was an exiting new find for me and Im glad to tick this off.
The Black Capped night heron are back in full force at the dam.  We saw at least 30 of them roosting.
 The Black Necked Grebe was also a great new sighting.  Very happy to add this beauty to our list.

Taking a picture into the sun makes me not that hopefull that it will work, but this one of the Cape Shuvlers ended up having a lovely mood to it.

A courtship display by these two Great Crested Grebes.
Little Grebe (Dabchick)

Spotted Thick Knee: Finally a photo worth sharing of this local friend.
I finally managed to get a decent of the Water Thick Knees, we dont have a hide, so all the pictures are taken on foot, and my biggest hurdle are the 'friendly' golfers and my birding companion the Wire Fox Terrier, Cathy who find it difficult to sit still and understand what dad is up to :)

Paarl Birding

A quick drive around Paarl Bird Sanctuary, we were confined to the secure section as it was closed for the day due to security concerns in the area.  We were happy to record our first sighting of these Fulvous Whistling Ducks.

If anyone can please help me ID the above bird (poor quality pic though)?  Thank you.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Twitch for the little Bittern on the Black River

We heard that people visiting the Snowy Egret on the Black River had noticed a little Bittern in the area.  Having not yet ticked this one off our list, we decided to go find and record this shy Heron.
This proved to be harder than we first thought, especially considering how easy we found the Citrine Wagtail and Snowy Egret. 
This took a few return visits and the help of 2 fellow twitchers, Dave Ulyate and Linda McIntosh, before we struck gold.
Dave and Linda had been searching on the banks for quite some time when we finally joined them.  After deciding to drive around the area, the Little Bittern was nowhere to be found.

We returned to the location where the Lisbeeck flows into the Black River, which is where we instinctively believed we would find our target bird, and just like we imagined it, he flew into position, showing himself clearly in the reeds.
We were extremely happy to not only tick this one off, but we managed to get a few decent pictures for our efforts. Thanks again to Dave and Linda for helping on this twitch.  It was great to meet up with fellow twitchers on the same mission with a happy ending.

This beautiful Purple Heron was also very obliging in the warm winter sun.
Puple Heron

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Snowy Egret sighting Cape Town June 2015

The Snowy Egret was first spotted by local twitchers Dominic and Patric Rollinson on Monday 8 June 2015, along the Blackriver opposite Berkley Road near Cape Town.  This caused a huge excitement amongst the South African birding fraternity as a Mega Alert was sent out to all birders by Mr Trever Hardaker.

Snowy Egret in full breeding plumage
Source Wikipedia

People were cancelling all their plans and booked tickets to fly in to Cape Town to come and see the unfamiliar, yet beautiful Snowy Egret.  Somehow our friend found his way to the African continent from America, as he is a bird not commonly found in Africa.  The last time this beauty was recorded in South Africa was in May 2002.

Front page of the Cape Times
Alex first joined in the excitement on Tuesday at 10h30 to tick off this mega, and record same.
Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

We returned on Saturday morning only to find no Snowy, with cold and misty conditions.  We decided to come back a little later when the mist had cleared, and we were fortunate enough to find our friend enjoying some sunshine on the bank opposite the railway bridge.

VIDEO of the Snowy Egret at the Blackriver in Cape Town. June 2015

The snowy egret (Egretta thula) is a small white heron. It is the American counterpart to the very similar Old World little egret, which has established a foothold in the Bahamas.
Snowy Egret Twitchers at the Blackriver
Snowy Egret

At one time, the beautiful plumes of the snowy egret were in great demand by market hunters as decorations for women's hats. This reduced the population of the species to dangerously low levels.[citation needed]
Twitchers looking for the Snowy

Other Birds spotted on the day: Blacksmith Lapwing Plover

Other Birds spotted on the day: Common Moorhen

Other Birds spotted on the day:Pied Kingfisher

Now protected in the United States by law, under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, this bird's population has rebounded. [Wikipedia]

Other Birds spotted on the day: Reed Cormorant

Other Birds spotted on the day: White Breasted Cormorant
Adults are typically 61 cm (24 in) long and weigh 375 g (0.827 lb) They have a slim black bill and long black legs with yellow feet. The area of the upper bill, in front of the eyes, is yellow but turns red during the breeding season, when the adults also gain recurved plumes on the back, making for a "shaggy" effect. The juvenile looks similar to the adult, but the base of the bill is paler, and a green or yellow line runs down the back of the legs. [Wikipedia]
Snowy Egret Twitchers

The birds eat fish, crustaceans, insects, small reptiles, snails, frogs, worms, mice and crayfish. They stalk prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet, flushing prey into view, as well "dip-fishing" by flying with their feet just over the water.

Snowy Egret Twitchers

Snowy egrets may also stand still and wait to ambush prey, or hunt for insects stirred up by domestic animals in open fields. [Wikipedia]

Other Birds spotted on the day: Yellow Billed Egret
Snowy Egret Twitchers
Snowy Egret

Photographic Equipment Used on this shoot:
Canon 5D Mark 2
Canon 600 f4
Canon 1D Mark 3
Canon 24-70mm f2.8
Video: Samsung S4
Binoculars Leica Trinovid