Seeberg Hide
/ by /   Outings / 0 comments

Farewell the Waders Outing to Langebaan Lagoon, West Coast National Park, 19th February 2017 Report by Penny Dichmont. Additional comments by Mel Tripp

Little Stint eel grass

Little Stint feeding among eel grass. Priscilla Beeton

A group of about fifteen birders, led by Mel Tripp and Simon Fogarty, met at Geelbek in the West Coast National Park on Sunday 19th February for the annual ‘Farewell the Waders’ outing. It is an opportunity to get to grips with the ID of some of the confusing migrant waders, with Langebaan being one of the best sites in the country to watch waders. Weather reports during the week had predicted gale force winds and a cold wind certainly blew at Seeberg, although it did not dampen our spirits.

We saw at least five Yellow-billed Kites on the drive to Geelbek, but once in the park, there were relatively few bush birds – probably due to the fact that the veld was very dry. However, on our way to Seeberg we enjoyed sightings of Cape Spurfowl (many), Grey-winged Francolin, Yellow Canary and a flock of Pied and Common starlings, as well as an excellent view of a Black Harrier.

As we approached the hide along the boardwalk, we saw a pair of two White-fronted Plovers plus a chick.  From the hide, we were treated to the view of Sanderlings flying in tight formation, perfectly synchronised and bright white as the sun caught their wings.  Such training flights continued on and off while we were there. At the same time, Bar-tailed Godwits were flying above in loose formation, before settling on the sand and taking off again. There was a huge range in their breeding plumage, ranging from a soft pink to an orange-red. A Grey Plover was beginning to show its black breeding plumage.

There were good numbers of both Greater and Lesser flamingos. Although Mel was disappointed that there were no Red Knots, which were seen in large numbers the previous day at the hide, we saw a good range of waders and other birds, including Common Whimbrel and Eurasian Curlew. After a coffee-break at about 10.30, we drove up to the Seeberg Look-out for a short visit.  Here we felt the full brunt of the wind, although the turquoise colour of the water below us and the interesting museum in the white-washed cottage made it well worth the visit.


Geelbek Hide
Intense viewing from Seeberg Hide.  Penny Dichmont                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         We had a leisurely lunch back at Geelbek Manor house as the optimum time for the tide from the Geelbek Hide was calculated at 12.50 pm. However, when the group reached the hide, they discovered that the water had gone out earlier than expected – possibly being pushed out by the wind. Another surprise was the fact that the small pans which we passed on the boardwalk on the way to the hide, usually covered in shallow water, were totally dry as a result of a neap tide.
We still had some wonderful sightings from the hide, including the Red Knot which had eluded us earlier (with flecks of soft red, as it started getting its breeding plumage), Ruddy Turnstones in full breeding plumage and more Grey Plovers. Mel and Simon provided excellent tips for identification, such as the “sewing machine-type action” of the Sanderling and their telescopes were much appreciated to help identify birds among the large group of grey, brown and white waders. Further delights included a Chestnut-banded Plover and a Marsh Sandpiper.

Separating Sanderling from Curlew Sandpipers – The Geelbek Hide. Priscilla Beeton

As it looked as if the best of the day’s sightings was over, some of the group had already left when the brilliant spot was made by Tom Williams, who recognized a European or Common Shelduck, a bird he knew from his boyhood in England – probably an escapee. After the initial euphoria, people realized that the bird did not appear in current field guides and there was some discussion about whether it could or should be “tickable”. Nevertheless, Tom received many congratulations and an offer of a drink – which was not forthcoming, however, as the group packed up soon afterwards and wended their way homeward.

Common (European) Shelduck. Priscilla Beeton

57 species were seen in all. Thanks to Mel and Simon for a very interesting and fruitful trip.


Yellow-billed Kite
Yellow Canary
Yellow Bishop
Cape Bulbul
Pied Starling
Grey-winged Francolin
Cape Spurfowl
Common Ostrich
Black-shouldered Kite
Black Harrier
Cape Wagtail
Red-eyed Dove
Cape Turtle Dove
Karoo Prinia
Grey-backed Cisticola
Pearl-breasted Swallow
European Swallow
Sacred Ibis
Waders and Shorebirds
Greater Flamingo
Lesser Flamingo
White-fronted Plover
Grey Plover
Common Ringed Plover
Bar-tailed Godwit
Common Whimbrel
Eurasian Curlew
Sandwich Tern
Swift Tern
Common Tern
Little Stint
African Black Oystercatcher
White-breasted Cormorant
Crowned Cormorant
Kelp Gull
Hartlaub’s Gull
African Oystercatcher
Grey Heron
Black-headed Heron
Kittlitz’s Plover
Common Greenshank
Curlew Sandpiper
Red Knot
Ruddy Turnstone
White-throated Swallow
Great White Pelican
European or Common Shelduck
South African Shelduck
Egyptian Goose
Marsh Sandpiper
Kittlitz’s Plover
Black-winged Stilt
Blacksmith Lapwing
Chestnut-banded Plover
Little Stint
Common Whimbrel
Grey Plover
Common Ringed Plover
Bar-tailed Godwit
Kelp Gull


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.