Instead of watching the Boks take on the Welsh at the Millenium Stadium a few Saturdays ago I decided the sunny afternoon was better spent birding at Rooisand Nature Reserve on Bot River Lagoon, near Kleinmond. I’ve birded at Bot River on numerous occasions, but not since the walkway and bird hide were built.
The new infrastructure looks good, but I think I may prefer the original set-up. The area had a certain mystery about it; one rarely bumped into other people and there was a certain quiet charm about it. I must say, however, that the boardwalk does encourage one to explore the far reaches of each pan where before you always felt compelled to stay within the boundary of the parking lot.
The habitat is a mix of open water, lagoon edge, marsh and coastal thicket. I was not surprised to notch up Bar-throated Apalis, Long-billed Crombec, Common Fiscal, Cape Bulbul, Cape Robin-chat, Grassbird, Yellow Bishop and Malachite Sunbird in the first patch of thicket along the boardwalk. A lone Barn Swallow also drifted over, which is unusual for June.
Waterbirds are the biggest draw card at Rooisand and Greater Flamingo, White-breasted Cormorant, Grey and Black-headed Heron, Reed Cormorant, Great White Pelican, Common Whimbrel, Little Egret, Blacksmith and Kitlitz’s Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gull were present. The restios flanking the boardwalk held Levaillant’s Cisticola and at least 10 African Pipits were actively foraging in a few of the dried out pans.
The bird hide is quite an impressive structure, but it’s positioned such that it’s difficult not to let the birds know you’re approaching. Nevertheless, there were a few Cape Shovellor and Yellow-billed Ducks that hung around and I imagine there must be African Snipe around the pan fringes as well.
A key bird for the area, which we missed, is Osprey. I don’t know of any other area in the Western Cape, apart from Langebaan, where Osprey is frequently seen. So keep an eye out for them, even in winter I hear.
Bird list for the afternoon:
Greater Flamingo, Reed Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Common Fiscal, Malachite Sunbird, Hartlaub’s Gull, Kelp Gull, Yellow-billed Duck, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Sacred Ibis, Little Egret, Grassbird, Cape Bulbul, African Pipit, Barn Swallow, Long-billed Crombec, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Turtle Dove, Egyptian Goose, Great White Pelican, Swift Tern, Black-winged Stilt, Kitlitz’s Plover, Grey Heron.