Our dentist has moved to Saldanha, a one and a half hour drive away. We travel via Velddrif, where the road crosses the mouth of the Berg River on a long low bridge like a causeway. To the mountain side and home is a wide salt marsh with reed beds and mud flats, teeming with birds and there is a bird hide. To the sea side many flat pans where brine is evaporated in the sun to harvest salt. And the flamingoes take their harvest there too. Salt-of-the-earth from Marie Theron, an artist who lives nearby.
We are – always in a hurry, busy busy busy, things to do, appointments to keep. So we have passed this bird hide a dozen times. Last week when we had half an hour we stopped. He took pictures. I was somewhat daunted, not a dedicated birder. I looked out and saw birds. Every one seemed to be different, and all unknown. Flamingoes in a huge flock across the river. Almost close enough to touch, near the bird hide, blacksmith plovers. For the rest, I have picked out the better pictures and ploughed thru my birdie books. Who are you? Waders and migrants …
There was a pied kingfisher, 29 cm, black and white, hovering patiently, diving for lunch, then returning to its favoured tree stump. Where it ‘beats the fish to death before eating it’. And back to hovering over the next likely patch of water. Resting on the bank, a white breasted cormorant, but he had his back turned to us, and was having a quiet nap.
|Little? stint or a grey plover?|
Rednecked (but not in breeding plumage) or little stint? Such appealing names, not! If it was ‘little’ it is the smallest of the waders and the smallest of the migrants. Flying all the way to Russia and Iran. Or a grey plover?? Head down, it feeds busily, on crustaceans, mosquitoes and larvae.
Greenshank – too far way to actually see if his shanks were green, but the shape is right, the wing colour and the long, tip tilted bill. Migrating from the Palaearctic. Eating insects, molluscs and crustaceans – from the surface, or wading right in and probing the sand.
Blacksmith plover, one of those distinctive birds, which even I can identify with a sigh of relief. But, he is now a lapwing, a blacksmith lapwing! Black and white on long legs. Related to the wirebird, national bird of the island of St Helena. This bird eats insects and worms. It likes damp marshy places and is a newcomer (in my 1982 book) to the South Western Cape.
Flamingoes earn a big sigh of relief. Along Life's Highway and the Yard Art Game with her pink plastic version knows a flamingo. These are Greater flamingoes with black tipped beaks, and flashing scarlet and black wings in flight.
|Flamingoes in flight|
Bird books – Joy Frandsen’s Birds of the South Western Cape 1982.
Sasol Birds of southern Africa by Sinclair Hockey and Tarboton 1998.
words by Diana of Elephant's Eye
(If you mouse over brown text, it turns shriek pink.
Those are my links)