Birding in Cape Town:West Coast National Park, Langebaan

Wednesday, a public holiday in South Africa, was spent birding with mates in the West Coast National Park. Located on the southern leg of Langebaan lagoon, the park is without equal in South Africa when it comes to the number and variety of shorebirds one can see. The Strandveld (local vegetation type) birding is also very good.

West Coast National ParkThere are three excellent hides located on the eastern shores of the lagoon. The older hide (northern hide) at Geelbek is, in my opinion, the best, while Seeberg hide comes into its own at high tide when gulls, terns and shorebirds roost on the sand banks. You need to time the tides quite carefully; the optimal time is either a rising low tide or dropping high tide in the morning (the sun will be at your back). High tide at either of the Geelbek hides is hopeless because there is no exposed mud; Seeberg is less dependent on tides.

marshsandpiper.jpgThe northern Geelbek hide produced: Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Eurasian Curlew, Whimbrel, Ruddy Turnstone, Terek Sandpiper, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey, Ringed, White-fronted and Kitlitz’s Plovers.

Curlew Sandpiper

Eurasian Curlew

Interestingly, we spotted this partially leucistic Curlew Sandpiper. The photo is rather poor, but you get the general idea.

Leucistic Curlew Sandpiper1

We only spent the morning in the park, but managed to notch up about 90 species – we limited ourselves to the southern section because we were atlassing that specific pentad for the South African Bird Atlas Project (SABAP2). Interesting birds for the park included Lesser Honeyguide, Common Swift (uncommon summer visitor) and Spotted Flycatcher (rare summer visitor in the Western Cape). Both the Lesser Honeyguide and Spotted Flycatcher were in the Spider Gums at the northern Geelbek hide.

Lesser Honeyguide

The Lesser Honeyguide was actively hawking insects, so it wasn’t the best behaved photo subject…

Common Swift

Talking of subject behaviour, swifts in general don’t rank high. We saw a handful of Common Swifts through the morning, usually singletons. The above shot – as with all my other swift shots – was a fluke!

Spotted Flycatcher

I’ve only seen Spotted Flycatcher once before in the Western Cape at Paarl Sewage Treatment Works (in 1993) so it was good to bag this one after a 16 year hiatus. This time gap is more a reflection of my lack of birding rather than the birds status. Our last stop for the day was the Abrahamskraal water hole, a good drinking spot for birds. Namaqua Doves are still very active in the park – I managed to snap this immature bird.

Namaqua Dove immature

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>