D’Aria Wine Estate, Durbanville.

21 March 2021

Leader Gerald Wingate.



At 8am on a beautiful, sunny, windless morning 35 enthusiastic birders (all suitably masked) gathered in the car-park of the D’Aria Wine Estate in Durbanville for the monthly outing to be led by Gerald Wingate, roped in at short notice when the originally designated leader became unavailable.

Following Gerald’s introduction, Priscilla presented Margaret McIver with her Promerops Award (a lovely stone carved Cape Sugarbird) which had been “virtually” presented to her at the club’s March AGM for her long-standing services to the club.

The group then headed off towards the large farm dam where a number of waterbird species, a Yellow-billed (Intermediate) Egret amongst them being the main draw-card, swelled the tick-list. The reed-beds on route harboured several calling Little Rush Warblers, and those patient enough managed to get a few glimpses of this skulking species. Other birds spotted included Southern Red Bishop and Pin-tailed Whydah (both in non-breeding plumage) and Levaillant’s Cisticola, and Jackal Buzzard and Black Sparrowhawk passed overhead.

From the dam, to which we would return later when the light was better, we headed back through the farm buildings towards the vineyards, adding birds such as African Dusky Flycatcher, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and a very obliging pair of African Stonechats en route.

Along the edge of the vineyards we had to keep an eye open for the many cyclists enjoying the trails, but nevertheless notched up a pair of Rock Kestrels some distance away, and, after some deliberation, decided that a raptor circling briefly overhead was a Lanner Falcon.

Back on the lawns near the dam, the weather had now warmed up considerably, bringing out the swifts and swallows. Many African Black swifts were present overhead, with Alpine, White-rumped and Little Swifts also spotted amongst them. The swallows included Barn, White-throated and Greater-striped.

Back at the dam, the Yellow-billed Egret had moved much closer to where we stood, giving good views as it patrolled the grassy edges of the dam with some success. It had been joined by an African Spoonbill. Other species on the dam included White-breasted and Reed Cormorant, Grey Heron, Cape Shoveler and Yellow-billed Duck and the expected Red-knobbed Coot and Common Moorhen.

A raptor flying over us was unanimously identified as an African Goshawk, but photographic evidence later showed that it was actually a Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk. In the distance it briefly interacted with another raptor, a “standard” plumaged Black Sparrowhawk. The resident pair of Jackal Buzzards also became active, one given a nice display overhead.

It was then time to retire to the shady lawn near the car-park for a nice cuppa, during which Gerald went through the tick-list for the morning. All the totals guessed by those present proved to be too low, with the group having notched up a very creditable 61 species in about 2,5 hours, covering a relatively small area, but which contained a good selection of different habitats. The final total increases by one to 62 when a very vocal pair of Fork-tailed Drongos was seen in the car-park as we departed after a most enjoyable and successful outing.

Our thanks go to Gerald for stepping in as leader at short notice. His knowledge of the venue, in the heartland of his home club the TBC, ensured that we would have a good morning.

Otto Schmidt.

photographs by Otto Schmidt, Penny Dichmont and Margaret McIver.