Paarl Bird Sanctuary
23 April 2017
The outing to Paarl Bird Sanctuary on Sunday 23 April 2017 was the first for some years as the sanctuary had been considered “unsafe”. At the club meeting on 13 April, John Fincham outlined the efforts that have been made during the past year to encourage members of the adjoining township to value the sanctuary and waste water works as assets to their own community. Since then almost 240 local schoolchildren have toured the sanctuary and encountered the birdlife of the area. So it was time for CBC to pay a return visit and we were delighted at the attendance of 31 members, especially as the “Flock at Sea” cruise was due to depart the following day. Many of those attending had never visited the sanctuary before, so the detailed Google maps of the area which John distributed to the drivers of each car were very helpful.
Our first move was to the viewing platform for an overview of the area and to outline the plan for the morning. Our arrival there was slightly delayed by the sighting of a Three-banded Plover with two enchanting tiny chicks which had many cameras clicking. The settling pan nearest the platform is inside the Works area and is currently being drained. This had attracted several Grey-headed Gulls which also put on a good show for the photographers.
From here we divided into two groups, making two convoys of 7 cars each, escorted by watchful security officials. One group, led by John Fincham, started with a stroll down Norman’s Walk which gives a good view of three of the largest pans, A, B and C. After this they drove slowly round all the pans, stopping at several places along the way. The other group, led by Gilbert Reinhardt, first made the slow circuit of the pans by car and ended their drive with the stroll down Norman’s Walk. By midday it was getting hot and both groups ended their visit with a late tea break in the shade next to the small “Kingfisher” pan, where a Malachite Kingfisher entertained us.
The bird tally for the morning was 42 species, which would have been more but for the fact that current pipe laying and other maintenance work is causing some disturbance, and the water levels in the major pans was unusually high. We missed out on the Maccoa, Fulvous and White-faced Ducks which are quite often seen, but the African Black Duck did show up, as well as Hottentot Teal. The elegant Glossy Ibis were present in some numbers and we enjoyed the gaudy African Swamphen (still Gallinule to most of us.) and a Black Crake on the island on Pan C. Those who ventured on to the berm between the two settling pans in the Works area later also managed to record the African Snipe and Water Dikkops, which are regulars there.
We would like to thank Gilbert Reinhardt, a Paarl “regular”, for leading the second group. We also thank the Drakenstein Municipality for their continued and steadfast support, and the security personnel for their watchful eye over our scattered groups. The weather was kind, the sanctuary is beautiful and everyone seemed to enjoy the day, so we hope we have made a start at putting this lovely place back on the birding map.
Just a reminder for anyone planning a visit: The sanctuary area is only open at weekends from 07h30 to 16h00 when security officials are on duty. Please do not wander around on foot, and when you drive please take a security official with you so that you can safely concentrate on your birding. We do not want any “incidents” or bad publicity to spoil the reputation of this prime birding area, or any harm to come to visiting birders.