Rocher Pan, birds by the sea
By Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
From Porterville when we yearned for sea air, our nearest beach was Eland’s Bay, a small town, good for surfing. We prefer walking at RocherPan. Cape Nature Conservation reserve is a wetland which sweeps down to the sea, beyond the dunes. 930 hectares, the reserve, established in 1966, is a seasonal vlei, dry between March and June. The Atlantic Ocean stretch of marine reserve was declared in 1988. The hours we spent there in March 2011, we had the whole place to ourselves. Just had to share with three ostriches, who disappeared in affronted horror, at Intruders, on Our Patch!! Who, why Rocher? Perde-kaf-en-koffers-a-story-from-the-West-Coast.
There was still some water in the pan, near the thru road, the ranger’s house and the first bird hide. At the second hide the pan was dry.
A group of avocets in the distance, their upturned bills make them unmistakable. A few blacksmith lap-wings. Couple of little stints. Vivid contrast to a photo of proud Victorian hunters with a mountain of dead ducks We Just Shot.
He sees birds, I see flowers. Almost Euphorbia green daisy was highlighting the vegetation on the shore of the pan.
We drove the track up the sand dune. While we had a quick picnic lunch, I discovered a mistletoe. Red berries just like a Christmas card, tho there is another species with Northern style white berries.
We wandered quietly along a sweep of beach. To the South in the far distance a haze of white houses at Laaiplek. To the North a deeper band of sky blue, the mountain ridge of Eland’s Bay at the sea end of Verlorenvlei.
There must have been a recent, fairly gentle high tide. The beach was strewn with jellyfish.
That retreating tide left riffles of sand, and pavements of meticulously level and carefully spaced shell mosaic. (Sea and sand colours that inspired me for the False Bay blog, then our house)
One of our most endangered birds is the African black oystercatchers. (They have played a vital role in reducing and controlling the population of the alien invasive Mediterranean mussel). Endangered because they nest on the shore, where the brain damaged roar up and down on quad bikes and bakkies to go fishing, just because they can. In 2000 recreational vehicles were banned from South Africa's beaches. This pair of birds flew up and circled round, settling again as we walked on.
The Ungardener found a sleeping seal. As he tried to get closer for a better picture, the seal woke up, yelled at him, and returned to the sea. There were dolphins, and flocks of birds gathered above a shoal of fish.
Sitting alone, gazing out to sea. I see nothing but the sea. I hear nothing but the waves. Looking back at that image, I see False Bay calling us!
We returned on a grey winter day inAugust 2013 with low cloud and heavy sea fog.
I must down go to the seas again, for the call of the running tidePoetry left as a comment on the original post by Adrian Ayres Fisher - whose current thoughtful post is On Pretending That What’s Happening Isn’t Actually Happening
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
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