Day 3: Karoo NP to Darling.
Our journey continued from the Karoo National Park down to Darling to stay with my Aunt for a few days. The landscape change from the Karoo to the West Coast is amazing. From relatively flat, dry land with a few koppies you eventually start seeing the mountains. Its awesome to drive along the straight roads and see them coming, and then to eventually end up in the mountains! The Ceres area has gorgeous mountains, and the Michell’s Pass after you leave Ceres blows my mind every time. Those mountains must surely be untouched by human hands.
The Canola fields are also a vast change from the dry Karoo, with huge fields of intense yellow making everything look happy!
We arrived in Darling on the day of my aunt Sheena’s birthday party. She greeted us at the camper van parked outside her house. As I opened the back sliding door where she was waiting for us to get out, I said “Hello!” but was immediately distracted by the bird sitting on the telephone line behind and above my aunts head…it was a rather distracted greeting as this was a major bird on my “wish list” for the trip. A Malachite Sunbird!! It flew off a few seconds later, and still to this day I’m not 100% sure I actually saw it. I mean I’m sure it was it, but my mind started doubting, I was super tired from a long and hot day of driving so maybe I was just wishing up the birds now! Or maybe it was just me wanting to get a better look at the birds I see, and not just a brief look which I feel wouldn’t count for my list. It took another fly-by possible sighting and finally an absolutely confirmed sighting for me to be able to add it to my list. Never the less, I was very excited by this incident and was the start of some fantastic birding on the West Coast.
Day 4: Darling and Yzerfontein
I woke up the following morning to some serious bird noise outside my window, and was happily surprised to see Common Starlings hanging out in the trees with the equally noisy weavers. The starlings are new on my life list, and by the end of our trip I certainly realised why they are called Common!
Our first outing was to the Tienie Versveld Wild Flower Reserve just outside Darling. A small little reserve which is wonderful to see during flower season. There is no entry fee, and not even an entry gate, you simply climb over a style in the fence and wonder around the flowers. It is a beautiful spot, very photogenic. There were quite a few Spur-winged Goose, which I actually heard calling and sound rather silly. There were also a couple of Black-winged Stilts in the little dam which flew off once we got too close. They flew off but soon returned and put on a flying show circling around and around the dam which provided some great photo opportunities.
We continued on to Yzerfontein and popped down to the harbour where I saw Kelp Gull, Grey-headed and Hartlaub’s Gull. We also had fly over views of African (Black) Oystercatchers, but I needed to see more of them, up close!
Also spotted a very cool looking lizard sunning itself on a rock. Something I still need to work on identifying!
There were a few Dassies (Rock Hyrax) around too, but one in particular wasn’t coping with the heat! We found him lying half in, half out a puddle and looking quite silly. He later dragged himself out the puddle and spread out on the cement to dry off.
Leaving Yzerfontein I spotted a Rock Kestrel sitting on a street light. It was very chilled up there despite quite a bit of vehicle and people activity right underneath it.
Day 5: Blouberg
The following day we needed to go into a town, so we headed down to Blouberg where we eventually got our first views of Table Mountain for this trip, in all its glory! It really is a stunning place.
On the drive back up we passed through a smaller residential area near Koeberg Power Station, where I got my first look at the Cape Spurfowl.
The following day we headed up to Langebaan where we would be staying at Club Mykonos for a week, being joined by my sister, brother-in-law and my nieces! I know that weeks’ worth of birding will need a blog post all to itself, so until then…