24 September 2009

Birds and Blooms on the Cape...(Western Cape, South Africa): September 24, 2009

After a 24 hour delay left me stranded in Atlanta for while (due to the considerable flooding there), I finally landed in Capetown last night and today went on a full-on recce of the territory with Josh Engel. Too much to mention in a great days birding full of Cape endemics galore and just great birds all round. Nipped in and out of many spots around the western Cape, including Paarl Bird Sanctuary, Koeberg Nature Reserve, the Darling Wildflower Route and the West Coast National Park in a truly action-packed days birding. Three new families were more than I could have hoped for out of a first day on the Cape, that included Cape Sugarbirds that fought the drizzle and fed out on the bright blooming proteas on Paarl Mountain (along with a lone bedraggled and sodden Orange-breasted Sunbird), Ostriches strutted unafraid in the heathy surrounds of West Coast NP, and Secretarybird flew onto my list overhead on the Darling Wildflower Route, while a pair of Blue Cranes fed quietly below.

Other highlights included a superb Southern Black Korhaan (see photo) that boldly called from a mound of earth on the Darling Route, a family of African Black Ducks (see photo) and Fiscal Flycatchers (see photo) at Paarl (see photo), (where Cape Shovelers and Maccoa Ducks also put in an appearance), Cape Penduline Tits at Koeberg, African Black Oysterctahers, Bokmakieries, and singing Karoo Larks at West Coast. A profusion of new species like Cape Bulbul, Cape Robin-chat and Karoo Scrub-robin abounded around the western Cape. Birds of the day though were several Black Harriers that ghosted across the heath-like strandveld vegetation, one of Africa's rarest (under 1000 birds in the world, TOTAL), and most striking raptors (and it does have more than a few!)

Aside from these choice moments blooming proteas were just as noteworthy, the fine colors of the Paarl proteas drawing in many a sunbird and sugarbird to check them out (see photos).

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