Birds at the mouth of the Berg River

- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

When I started this False Bay blog, I trawled my Porterville blog (Elephant's Eye garden) for archived posts that were worth editing and republishing. Fast forward to my final resurrected post. From March I will fill my mid-month slot either with In A Vase on Monday with Cathy in the West Midlands, or a Dozen for Diana plant of the month.

In February 2011 we travelled via Velddrif, where the road crosses the mouth of the Berg River on a long low causeway like bridge. To the mountain side and our former 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. Flamingoes take their harvest there too. Salt-of-the-earth from Marie Theron, a nearby artist.

We were always in a hurry, appointments to keep. We had passed this bird hide a dozen times, but with half an hour free, 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 … 

A pied kingfisher, 29 cm, black and white, hovered 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?
Little? stint or a grey plover?

Rednecked (but not in breeding plumage) or little stint? 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. Head down, it feeds busily, on crustacea, mosquitoes and larvae.

Greenshank
Greenshank

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 in and probing the sand.

Blacksmith lapwing
Blacksmith lapwing

Blacksmith lapwing
Blacksmith lapwing

Blacksmith lapwing
Blacksmith lapwing

Blacksmith plover (now blacksmith lapwing), one of those distinctive birds, which even I can identify with a sigh of relief. Black and white on long legs. This bird eats insects and worms. It likes damp marshy places and is a newcomer (in the 1982 book!) to the South Western Cape. Related to the wirebird on the island of St Helena.

Flamingoes
Flamingoes

Flamingoes
Flamingoes

Flamingoes
Flamingoes

Flamingoes
Flamingoes

Familiar flamingoes earn a big sigh of relief. Greater flamingoes, with black tipped beaks, flash scarlet and black wings when in flight. But - Beware of attack flamingos!

Flamingoes 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

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Pictures by Jürg Studer,
text by Diana of Elephant's Eye on False Bay

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Comments

  1. Great photos of the birds, especially the flamingos flying...and I'm always amazed to hear of small birds flying from Russia and Iran...incredible...we have a tiny bird that flies back and forth from Japan to Australia.

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  2. Are there less birds due to the drought? Do they fly of to wetter places?

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    Replies
    1. Poor birds don't have a lot of choices.The Eastern and Northern Cape are also suffering from drought. They could try the nearest golf course.

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    2. They are still irrigating golf courses?

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    3. Yes - sadly - strange priorities.
      But it is borehole, or non-potable water reclaimed from the sewage works.
      Not tap water. So that's alright. NOT!

      Steenberg golf course uses the grey water from the associated housing estate - which is a slightly better way.

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  3. I love the wonderful birds you have. I can't wait for all of our birds to fly back in the spring. xo Laura

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  4. Like flowers, you're blessed with such a wonderful wide variety of birds. The attack flamingos were very cute.

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  5. I think it's a plover. Despite being a birder I am not too familiar with shorebirds, most look almost identical...

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  6. I've never seen flamingos in flight before. They looks so pretty and peaceful when they are standing still, but kind of scary when they are all wings and legs in the air.

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    Replies
    1. Large, beautiful and flashing pink. But a nightmare in my attack flamingoes link ;~))

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  7. wonderful water birds. They all have long legs, I wonder why. Our water birds don't, I think.

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    Replies
    1. Waders - long legs - shore birds - hunting for dinner in shallow water. They look like street artists on stilts.

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  8. Very enjoyable visit that gives hope of warmer days, crazy long legs on the greenshank. We're having a warm day today , give me a few more and maybe I'll dig out the camera.

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  9. How special to see this flock of Flamingoes. What a gorgeous bird.
    Amalia
    xo

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  10. This was a treat to see your beautiful birds again Diana! I hope to start back with some plants for your Dozen meme.

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  11. Fantastic pictures! It is so easy to rush by and not have time to notice wildlife around us. Sarah x

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