Outing to the Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary, Strand.

17 July –  Leaders Daryl and Lynette de Beer.



A cool Sunday 17th July, saw a group of 14 birders meeting for the outing.

Having been warned that the de Beers had done a pre-meeting recce with somewhat disappointing results, we made our way into Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary, passing over the Lourens River. It had obviously recently been in flood and it was sad to see just how much rubbish had been carried down, the bulk of it, unfortunately, probably ultimately ending up the sea. If only people weren’t so oblivious of the consequences of their actions!
We made our way down to the ponds which we were told were once the AECI waste-water treatment works. The area now enjoys conservation initiatives to maintain its natural wetland status.
There were a fair number of Yellow-billed Ducks. Not unusually, we heard the Blacksmith Lapwings and the Little Rush, and Lesser Swamp Warblers before we saw them.

The Three-banded Plover always gives you bang for your buck in my opinion. The small bird with big-time good looks became my star of the day, although the Brown-throated Martins and the African Black Duck pair were also good to see. Red-billed Teal, a Southern Masked Weaver, with unusual plumage, and another with nesting material added extra colour amongst all the reliable regulars like Egyptian Geese, Cape Bulbuls, Rock Doves and Common Starlings which generally bolster one’s list without getting the credit they deserve.
Just when I thought that was it as far as highlights were concerned, a Peregrine Falcon was spotted high in a tree across the river and posed for the photographers, then did a fly about and came back to show off again. It became my new “best bird” of the day for the Dick Dent section. I think there are many of us who are suckers for a raptor?
The sun having come out, we left Dick Dent and proceeded to Part 2 of the day – tea and Paardevlei.

From Dick Dent, we travelled to Paardevlei, a few minutes away. This was a new birding destination for most in the group and was a very worthwhile and enjoyable extension to the outing. After tea on the lawn close to the entrance to the vlei, we walked along the water’s edge, enjoying a variety of waterbirds, including Southern Pochard.

Zachariah Kaspersen (11 years), a new member of the CBC, had two target species, which would be lifers for him: White-backed Duck and Maccoa Duck. He was thrilled to spot a Maccoa, which was close to the water’s edge. Unfortunately, it was hidden from view for some of the group by the reeds.

There was also plenty of activity among the reeds and along the path.
We were entertained by a male Pin-tailed Whydah on the balcony of one of the flats overlooking the vlei. Although his tail feathers were not fully grown, his ego was certainly intact as he made his presence felt at a feeder on the balcony.
We had some more excellent views of raptors: a pair of Jackal Buzzards soaring fairly close by and a Rock Kestrel which flew in front of us, before alighting on a pole.
On our return, some birders who were scouring the row of gums saw a Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and a Fork-tailed Drongo. Just as we reached the entrance gate, a Grey Heron flew overhead, quite close to us. It was a satisfying morning’s walk, with a pleasing tally of 46 birds seen – 26 at Dick Dent and 20 at Paardevlei.

Thanks very much to Daryl and Lynette for leading the group and for suggesting the interesting addition of Paardevlei, which rounded off the morning well.

photographs byAndrew and Heather Hodgson, Gigi Laidler, Daryl de Beer,  Lucille and Zachariah Kaspersen and Penny Dichmont.

Report by Sheila Scott and Penny Dichmont.