Outing to the Soetwater Enviro Centre, Kommetjie.
01 November 2022 – Led by Linda Hibbin.
Soetwater is a seaside camping and picnic resort just south of Slangkop lighthouse on the Atlantic side of the Peninsula. It is also home to the Soetwater Environmental Education Centre run by Lappies Labuschagne, a wonderful facility for children to learn about nature. This was the venue for a weekday outing in November 2020 and proved so popular that we have returned several times since.
The South Easter was blowing a gale across the southern Peninsula on the last day of October and it was feared that it was not going to calm down for the outing on the 1st day of November. Fortunately this was not the case and although the first hour was a bit breezy, the wind stopped later and by the end of the morning the 19 participants were all baking in the sun and wishing for a bit of shade and a cooling zephyr!
Lappies welcomed everyone and gave a short tour of the large enclosure housing several birds that have been injured and are unable to be released back into the wild after which we started the walk along the sea front towards the lighthouse.
The intertidal zone is a good place to see Sacred, Glossy and Hadada Ibis picking through the kelp for sea lice and sand flies. Hartlaubs and Kelp Gulls are also present. A scan through the Hartlaubs Gulls is always a must as occasionally there could be a Grey-headed Gull amongst them. Sure enough one was spotted by Angela who managed to get a picture.
The tide was low and we saw Common, Greater Crested and Sandwich Terns, Cape, White-breasted and Crowned Cormorants resting on the rocks whilst African Black Oystercatchers, Common Whimbrels, a Grey Heron and a Little Egret were looking in the rock pools for their next meal.
The areas away from the shoreline are good for all the usual land and fynbos birds and a stroll along the road with the grassed picnic sites and bushy mountainside provided suitable habitat for Bokmakierie, Cape Spurfowl, Olive Thrush, Cape Wagtail, Karoo Prinia, Southern Fiscal, Fiscal Flycatcher, Southern Double-collared and Malachite Sunbird, Cape Robin-chat, Southern Boubou, Speckled and Red-faced Mousebird, Cape Sparrow, Red-winged and Common Starling, Cape Bulbul and Speckled Pigeon.
One must never forget to look up into the sky when out birding as failure to do so means missing out on spotting White-necked Raven, Barn and Greater Striped Swallows, Pied Crow and Jackal Buzzard. Unfortunately the swifts were just too far away to get good views but there were definitely White-rumped and African Black amongst the flocks.
A total of 46 species were seen.
photographs by Angela Dalziel, Linda Hibbin and Margaret Maciver.
Report by Gillian Barnes.