Outing to Witzands Nature Reserve.
17 September 2023.
Leader Clifford Dorse.
A new venue always brings out birders in numbers! A group of around 70+ met, in perfect Spring weather, at Witzands on Sunday, 17 September. Morne Farmer, the People and Conservation Officer, provided early morning tea and coffee which allowed time for “meet and greet” before Daryl introduced Cliff Dorse, Head of Conservation for the CoCT.
The track to our first stop, in an area not usually open to the general public, required that we travel in high clearance/ 4×4 vehicles. We set off in 22 vehicles for the wetland area that is frequented by the Red-chested Flufftail which we had heard very clearly on our recce visit four days earlier. Alas, we were not as lucky on Sunday!
But Long-billed Crombec, Southern Bou-bou, Jackal Buzzard, Grey-backed Cisticola and Cape Weaver were seen, and Little Rush Warbler was heard. Cliff pointed out the critically endangered Psoralea glaucina flower which is found in very a few places, only in this “flufftail wetland area” and Zandvlei.
On the way to the R27, Cliff found a Namaqua Rain Frog in a mole hole and a Southern blind legless skink, a species of lizard endemic to South Africa.
Next stop was the Silwerstroomtrand Road where Mike Buckham pointed out the nest of a Cape Penduline Tit. The group spent some time watching the bird entering the nest to feed the chicks. The nest, which is made of kapok and spider web, has two entrances, one large, obvious, but false, opening to fool predators, and a smaller and more hidden true entrance. At the entrance to the Silwerstroom Resort we enjoyed good sightings of a Grey Tit gathering food and entering its nest.
Here we also saw Pied Starlings and Bokmakieries that were very vocal. Some lucky birders found a Karoo Thrush and a Layard’s Warbler.
Photo: Otto Schmidt
Our third stop took us to Pond 7, an artificial recharge pond for the Witzands Aquifer. Our walk to the pond produced Pin-tailed Whydah, Yellow Billed Kite, Malachite Sunbird, Common Waxbill, Karoo Scrub Robin and Karoo Prinia. The excellent display of colourful Spring flowers ensured an enjoyable stroll and on the return trip Cliff pointed out a rare and endangered daisy, Steirodiscus tagetese.
Our grateful thanks to Morne and Cliff for their leadership and input to ensure a very successful and enjoyable outing. And to all the enthusiastic birders who joined us.
Photographs by Otto Schmidt, Lynette de Beer, Rhys Gwilliam, Linda Hibbin and Daryl de Beer.
Report by Daryl and Lynette de Beer.