Langebaan and West Coast National Park 

Day 6: Darling to Langebaan 

We arrived in Langebaan where we would be staying at Club Mykonos, a huge resort designed to resemble Mykonos in Greece. Cute white buildings with brightly coloured doors, window frames and shutters. The section we stayed in has been built on a hillside so getting from your vehicle to the rooms was a daily workout! Unlike the real Mykonos, they didn’t have donkeys to transport you! 

View from our Mykonos kaliva

Once we had checked in, found a parking spot for our massive vehicle and then unpacked we went for a drive around Langebaan. We stopped in at one of the caravan parks, which was pretty much empty because it was winter after all. We drove right down to the beach front camp sites, where I was checking out the Kelp Gulls who were trying their best not to get swept away in the wind, and then my Mom spotted the Oystercatchers! Excellent! That was me jumping out the bus into the wind to get my African (Black) Oystercatcher shot, finally I was able to have a good look at them.  
Back at the resort we went for a quick walk down the hillside and I briefly spotted a little Bunting type bird. Checking my books it could only be the Cape Bunting. Plenty of further sightings later on would confirm this. 

African Black Oystercatcher


Day 7: Langebaan 

My folks and I explored the town of Langebaan a bit, had a delicious yet super burny pizza and chocolate desert for lunch and then did some grocery shopping and awaited the arrival of my Sister, Brother-in-law and my sweet nieces! 

Langebaan style


Day 8: Darling Brewery 

After getting the whole family ready, which involved having breakfast, getting 5 adults showered with only one shower, and getting a busy toddler fed and dressed as well as a 3 month old fed, dressed and fed again we were off back down to Darling to have lunch and beer tasting at the Darling Brew! 

It was a very rainy, cold day but once inside we had a delicious lunch and what I’m told was delicious beer! 

Day 9: West Coast National Park 

After yet another slow and late start to the morning, we realised we need to get a move on if we wanted to visit the West Coast National Park. We eventually got to the gate, drove through the park, stopped off at Geelbek Manor House Restaurant to get some cake treats for later on. Then we proceeded to head for the Postberg section of the park. We were meeting up with my Aunt along the way and this proved to be tricky as cellphone reception was very on and off in places so we didn’t know where to meet her. My Dad also then realised we were very, like very, low on diesel! He wasn’t sure we would make it into Postberg and still be able to drive back to Langebaan, and there was no diesel to buy in the park. We eventually found my aunt and made it to the Postberg section where we had a really lovely lunch break in between a hill of flowers and a stunning blue, waves crashing ocean. After a rather tense drive, with the petrol light on, and with my aunt following in her car behind us, we made it out of the park and back to Langebaan where we filled up with 70L into a 70L tank!! These are the adventures that good road trips are made of! 
But what about the birds? Now I can get onto the birds! 

We didn’t see too much on this trip to the park as it was fairly rushed. We stopped off at a viewpoint with amazing views of the ocean, the wind was howling so not very pleasant to be out the car but I still had to jump out to get some shots of the Cape Bulbuls and Yellow Canaries having a bath in a puddle of water. There was also a little Cape Bunting hopping around so I could get a better look at him. 

Cape Bulbul

Yellow Canaries

 

Once we arrived at our lunch spot called Plankiesbaai, in Postberg, there were quite a few Kelp gulls and Hartlaub’s Gull hanging around and being quite pesky when they realised we had food, venturing fairly close to the door of our camper. My sister and I found a Karoo Scrub-Robin which by now I felt very comfortable recognising, having seen it numerous times already on the trip. 
On the way out of Postberg we had to just drive, there was no stopping for birds or anything, some skilled driving was required to get us to a petrol station. Even though we couldn’t stop I had just enough time to get a clear and definitive view of a Black Harrier. I’m not familiar with the Harrier species but just from the way it was flying I thought it must be a Harrier. A quick check on my Sasol Bird App confirmed my thinking, and the black and white markings were unmistakably those of a Black Harrier. A very exciting find for me!! 

That evening back at the resort I went off for a walk around our “Greek” hillside to try get a shot of the sunset. I didn’t quite get the sunset because the gulls were putting on a fun flying show as they were catching the wind currents right overhead. I also spotted a Rock Kestrel far off. As I walked along the lower parking area something caught my eye through the fence, it was so small and I couldn’t make out if it was a bird or something else or nothing at all. I quick look with my bino’s revealed it to definitely be a bird, but I had absolutely no clue what it was, so I quickly needed to get a photo to help with ID later on. It is not often that I don’t have a clue what group of birds to even start looking in, this was very exciting! I returned to our unit and waited for my sister to finish putting her babies to bed, because she wanted to identify some birds as well!! So together we sat and figured this one out to be a Grey Tit

Sacred Ibis battling against the wind

Grey Tit

Moon fly by



Day 10: Chill Day

My Brother-in-law had to go down to Cape Town for a meeting, so the rest of us just had a chilled day in Langebaan. We took Ruby down to the beach and she had a blast playing in the sand, which her awesome Aunty had to then wash out of her hair later on 😜. We had lunch at an awesome restaurant right next to the beach, and as we ate there was a seal playing in the waves and a huge flock of Cape Cormorants flying out over the water. 

Day 11: Back to West Coast National Park 

The next day my sister and her family left early in the morning to fly back to Durban. Early in the morning as in, still dark. Just after they left I heard a strange noise outside so opened the door to try find the sound but instead discovered an Owl sitting high up in the old windmill at the top of the hillside. (It wasn’t making the noise) It looked to be an Eagle-owl, couldn’t tell you if it was a Spotted or Cape, but it didn’t stick around for long as it swooped down towards the houses and out of sight. 

Also on that same windmill I saw Doves, Starlings and a pair of Rock Kestrels! It’s amazing how many species can utilise a structure like that. 

The old windmill at Mykonos

We managed to fit in another trip to West Coast National Park, so that we could really get to look around better and without a rush. We first stopped in at the Seeberg hide. After a short walk down the boardwalk path we came to a little pan which had quite a few birds running around it. Again, I had no idea what I was looking at, but this time it frustrated me because I knew it was a water bird of some sort, but I just find them so difficult to identify! All the birds we saw there were the same and turned out to be Kittlitz’s Plovers. I’m pretty happy with identifying them now…Ah the learning process! 
From inside the hide we saw Greater Flamingo and Lesser Flamingo, White-fronted Plover, Common Whimbrel and the usual gulls. 

Kittlitz’s Plover


From there we stopped in at the Geelbek Manor Restaurant again and had more tea and cake. There is a flock of Cape Weavers in the outside seating area which keeps all the guests entertained with their impressive nest building. 

We continued our drive on towards Postberg around the beautiful blue waters of the Langebaan lagoon. We saw more Flamingoes, Ostriches, Southern Double-collared Sunbirds a plenty, and then the Black Harrier again, which I managed to get some bad photos of.   

Black Harrier

 

Once in Postberg and with more time on our hands we could stop more and really enjoy the amazing floral displays. As far as you can see there are fields of white, yellow and orange flowers and when you look closer you find the pinks and purples. 

Postberg

Driving slowly along one road I heard a huge bird racket going on in the dense bushes next to us. I’m not sure if it was the Karoo Prinia or not but it was the only bird that popped up out of those bushes. It sat perfectly on the top of a bush and I got to take what is one of my favourite photos ever. I just love the colours and layers in this photo.

Karoo Prinia

 

Also in that area I spotted a raptor not too far off the road, sitting on the floor with a carcass. It was a large black bird, so my immediate thought went straight to Black Harrier. I mean what else would it be, Black Harriers are well seen in the park. I got some great photos and eventually we moved on. I was to learn a week or so later after posting the photo on a Facebook group that in fact, it was actually a Black Sparrowhawk

Black Sparrowhawk

Ah the learning curves of birding! I feel like I need to do a whole blog post just about those… 

We continued our drive up to the lookout point where I discovered the best rock seat in the world! It is so comfortable and is at just the right angle for your back and has stunning views across the lagoon back to the town of Langebaan. Seriously an amazing spot! 

The view from my rock seat


On our way out of the flower section we stopped so I could take comparison photos of the flowers looking at them from the front and from behind. Vastly different views.

Top view is looking from behind the flowers. The bottom view is looking at the flowers as they face the sun.


 

As we were stopped I noticed a bird scurrying around through the low flowers. It turned out to be a Large-billed Lark, a definite lifer as I’d never even heard of this bird before! 

Large-billed Lark


I got a Caspian Tern flying over the lagoon, and managed a few shots before it flew off in the wrong direction. 

Caspian Tern

Stopping off at another bird hide we disturbed a flock of Flamingos who flew off from their little pan; there were Kittlitz’s Plover, White-fronted Plover and 2 Cape Teals

Cape Teals

Flamingo fly-away

 

The West Coast National Park is definitely a place I would like to go back to, especially the flower section Postberg. I believe there is so much more birding to be done there! 

That evening the Rock Kestrels were having their turn to show off their beauty up on the old Windmill. 

Rock Kestrel couple

Rock Kestrel fly-over

 

Day 12: Chill day and Laundry Day 

We had one last day of exploring Langebaan and went out to have lunch at one of the many little cafe style restaurants. I can’t remember the places name, but I wasn’t holding out much hope for good food, especially when it started off with a dirty fork! I was very pleasantly surprised with the best restaurant quiche I’ve tasted (up till that point…I’ve since had better!) and my Mum’s pancake was just like our home made pancakes! Well done to them! 
We then went up to The Farmhouse Hotel to have tea and scones. A lovely spot with more great views but this time looking across the lagoon back up to the best rock seat in Postberg! 

Day 13: Langebaan to Cape Town 

We left the next day to head down to Cape Town where I would be visiting a friend and doing some awesome nature trips and bird “hunting”. Those adventures will follow in my next post…..

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