Outing to Koeberg Nature Reserve.
17 October 2023.
Leader Peter Nupen.
A group of 23 birders gathered at the Conservation Office at Koeberg Nature Reserve on a hot Tuesday morning. We were met by Jurina Le Roux, the reserve manager, who joined us on our walk around the reserve. Due to ongoing strict security measures at Koeberg, entrance to and movement within the reserve is very restricted. Fortunately, the reserve is extensive, hence there was a vast area where we were permitted to wander.
During the morning we saw a herd of about twelve zebras, a large herd of springbuck, a couple of tortoises, a scrub hare and a small, unidentified snake as well as numerous birds. Although not seen by us, there are eland, caracal, porcupine, boomslang and other animals. Interestingly, of the common snakes, they have no puffadders – for which they do not have an explanation. They have also seen leopards, but these elusive animals are very rare visitors.
On arrival, there were numerous swifts and swallows flying all around the buildings, including Greater Striped Swallow, a Little and a White-rumped Swift. Also seen here was a White-backed Mousebird, and more species. By the time we moved away from the buildings, Zoe had added ten species to her list for the day!
At the dam we saw Red-knobbed Coots, Blacksmith Lapwings, Red-eyed and Ring-necked (Cape Turtle) Doves, Pearl-breasted Swallows, Common and Pied Starlings, and more. From the dam, we wandered along to a large open area where we saw numerous birds, including Capped Wheatears, Crowned Lapwings, Red-capped and Large-billed Larks, and African Pipits.
Animated discussion followed the comments by Jurina about the leopard which has visited the reserve in recent years.
The group enjoyed good views of larks and pipits. Some of the group added up to six new species to their Birding Big Year tally.
We then walked through a scrubby strandveld area where we saw what was originally thought to be Grey-winged Francolin, and then determined to be juvenile Cape Spurfowl. A flight of Great White Pelicans floated overhead. We stopped for refreshments under the trees adjoining the conference centre, where we added a number of species to the list, including Malachite and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, Brimstone Canary, Cape and Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, as well as the Speckled Mousebird – we in fact saw all three Mousebird species during our visit. A pair of Spotted Thick-knees were hiding in the shade under a nearby fallen tree.
Although we saw the ubiquitous Egyptian Goose and Sacred Ibis, we missed out on Hadeda Ibis! Our tally for the reserve was in excess of fifty species in under two hours.
Peter Nupen led our morning, and had arranged with security at Witzands for access to Pan 7. Here we saw Great Crested, Black-necked and Little Grebes, as well as Glossy Ibis and Reed Cormorants amongst numerous other water birds. A Diederik Cuckoo was heard, but unfortunately did not show itself. We had a very brief sighting of a Namaqua Dove before it disappeared into the bushes. A highlight for some was hearing, and then seeing, a Chestnut-vented Warbler (Tit-babbler) close to the path.
At Pond 7, Witzands. Not sure which way to look – waterbirds on the left or bushbirds on the right.
This was a very rewarding morning’s birding, returning to places not often visited by our group. We listed fifty-five birds at Koeberg and another thirty-four at Witzands. A big thank-you to Jurina for our access to Koeberg, Peter Nupen for leading the walk and to those who contributed photographs.
Photographs by Jens Kuhn, Glynnis Coetzee, Penny Dichmont.
Report by Gillian Matthews.