Outing to the Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary, Strand.

16 May 2021 –  Leader Vic Smith.

 

 

New venue for CBC – a 10 ha site (former waste water treatment plant) conveniently situated on the R44, bordered on one side by Strand Golf Course and the Lourens River on the other.
Maintained (sometimes) by the municipality under the watchful eye of the Somerset West Bird Club (SWBC), who badger them continuously for improvements…..
They do cut the grass occasionally and maintain the walkways which are raised embankments (berms) dividing the various ponds, a la SSW. They also try to eliminate ‘birder traps’ by replacing stolen metal manhole covers with concrete ones. Hopefully their budget will allow for some reed trimming in the near future.
It is a very well-known haven for all the sought after wetland birds – Snipe (African and Painted), Rail, Swamphen, Crake etc., all of which breed there. It has also famously hosted many rarer birds e.g., Squacco Heron there last week (!), Spotted Flycatcher a while ago, and there are raptors aplenty, Rufous Breasted Sparrowhawk, African Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon, Jackal and Common Buzzards, African Harrier-Hawk, and Black-winged Kite, amongst others.
Our group was 30 strong including four welcome invitees from SWBC, led by their Chairlady, Willene Van Der Merwe.

The recce, done two days previously by John and Jane Magner and Vic Smith, had only produced 27 species so did not bode too well for the outing. However, our worries were rapidly dispelled as the early birds got around eight ticks on the car park before most arrived: a Battery (?) of Black-headed Herons, Red-Faced Mousebirds, Cape Bulbul, almost a full house of Doves including the rare Rock Dove, and the ubiquitous Sparrows (both varieties).
Well-briefed by our esteemed leader, Daryl de Beer, we headed off in single(ish) file alongside pond 1 which was partially obscured by reeds through which we were able to spot Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen and Yellow-billed Duck, plus Reed & White Breasted Cormorants in the trees.

The front of the group kept in touch with the rear via the ‘pass it on’ system i.e., ‘african sacred wagtail…huh?’
The 2nd open pond yielded Brown-throated Martin, Southern Masked Weaver, Lesser Swamp & Little Rush Warblers, Cape Wagtail, Southern Double-collared Sunbird – and Linda spotted an approaching African Harrier Hawk.
At this stage the group had descended into the usual ‘Retreat from Kabul’ formation… serious birders to the fore and happy chattees at the rear, all enjoying the outing in their own ways.

The next big ponds produced a cornucopia of avian delights ranging from Spoonbill to Dabchick, M’sieu Levaillant, Intermediate Egret, Three Banded Plover, and to the find of the day! African Snipe – spotted lurking in the reeds by eagle-eyed Charles Britz (SWBC). Thanks Charles!.

The route back along the river was also productive with Cape Batis, Cape White-eye, Fiscal Flycatcher and the day’s 2nd superstar: African Black Duck.
The finale, spotted by Josh Muller, was a ceremonial farewell fly-past from a Purple Heron.
Tea and bird list by Daryl in lovely weather concluded a fantastic outing – total species an unexpected but welcome 50!
Dick Dent now firmly affixed to CBC outing portfolio.

(I asked SWBC members who DD was – answers ranged from Local Paneelklopper to a Mayor’s elderly chauffeur)

Bird List supplied by Dennis Laidler.
Observations: 49
Species: 49
Species (heard only): 1

Pentad: 3405_1845, Start: 2021-05-16, End: 2021-05-16, Species: 49, Observations: 49
1. House Sparrow, 2021-05-16 11:17
2. Southern Double-collared Sunbird, 2021-05-16 11:03
3. Klaas’s Cuckoo, 2021-05-16 11:02
4. Laughing Dove, 2021-05-16 10:51
5. Cape Canary, 2021-05-16 10:50
6. Common Waxbill, 2021-05-16 10:50
7. Spur-winged Goose, 2021-05-16 10:50
8. African Black Duck, 2021-05-16 10:41
9. Purple Heron, 2021-05-16 10:33
10. Fork-tailed Drongo, 2021-05-16 10:16
11. Cape Batis, 2021-05-16 10:06
12. Cape White-eye, 2021-05-16 10:05
13. Southern Red Bishop, 2021-05-16 10:03
14. Cape Sparrow, 2021-05-16 10:02
15. African Sacred Ibis, 2021-05-16 10:01
16. African Snipe, 2021-05-16 09:58
17. White-breasted Cormorant, 2021-05-16 09:51
18. Yellow-billed Egret, 2021-05-16 09:48
19. Hadeda, 2021-05-16 09:48
20. Egyptian Goose, 2021-05-16 09:35
21. Cape Wagtail, 2021-05-16 09:33
22. African Spoonbill, 2021-05-16 09:33
23. African Darter, 2021-05-16 09:33
24. Three-banded Plover, 2021-05-16 09:33
25. African Swamphen, 2021-05-16 09:17
26. Little Grebe, 2021-05-16 09:17
27. Little Rush Warbler, 2021-05-16 09:13
28. Southern Fiscal, 2021-05-16 09:13
29. Pin-tailed Whydah, 2021-05-16 09:13
30. African Harrier-Hawk, 2021-05-16 09:10
31. Brown-throated Martin, 2021-05-16 09:06
32. Reed Cormorant, 2021-05-16 09:03
33. Yellow-billed Duck, 2021-05-16 09:02
34. Common Moorhen, 2021-05-16 09:00
35. Red-knobbed Coot, 2021-05-16 09:00
36. Southern Masked Weaver, 2021-05-16 08:55
37. Levaillant’s Cisticola, 2021-05-16 08:55
38. Cape Weaver, 2021-05-16 08:55
39. Fiscal Flycatcher, 2021-05-16 08:54
40. Cape Bulbul, 2021-05-16 08:54
41. Blacksmith Lapwing, 2021-05-16 08:50
42. Lesser Swamp Warbler, 2021-05-16 08:50
43. White-rumped Swift, 2021-05-16 08:47
44. Helmeted Guineafowl, 2021-05-16 08:45
45. Rock Dove, 2021-05-16 08:45
46. Red-faced Mousebird, 2021-05-16 08:44
47. Common Starling, 2021-05-16 08:43
48. Black-headed Heron, 2021-05-16 08:43
49. Red-eyed Dove, 2021-05-16 08:42

 

photographs by Lynette de Beer and Penny Dichmont.

Report by Vic Smith.