" Your Grace has found me just as I am ~ empty handed but alive in

Your Hands....."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heading into the vast unknown....2

Saturday 23 October
Dry rusks and Valoids were had by all for breakfast, before heading down to the meeting point. After the briefing we headed out to sea, the Zest team Trevor & John, 2 guys with HUGE lenses, the 3 of us,
FrancoisD, Tertius Gouws and 7 foreigners, 6 of whom turned out to sleep more than half of the day. Much to my delight I only once felt a little queezy after having the fruitjuice they served. This, while another member of our party, were ‘feeding the birds birthday cake at the back of the boat’ :-D
The weather was still windy, sea’s stormy and rough and we sat in the rain for about half an hour. As we headed out, we saw Common and Sandwich Terns, passed the Bank and Cape Cormorants and Cape Gannets then saw the first of 3 Southern Right Whales, within metres of the boat, just as we reached Cape Point.
Soon after this Trevor shouted out: “Great Shearwater”...... :-D thinking back now, it’s funny how then everyone tried to get at least a proof shot of the Great Shearwater, and in the end this turned out to be a ‘trash bird’, with having them upclose to the boat for the remainder of the day... :-D
Soon after Trevor’s next shout came: “Leather-backed Turtle”- again within metres of the boat.
Soon after the rain subsided and we found a trawler. These were our sightings of which all were lifers:
Paracitic Jaegar, Manx Shearwater, Shy Albatros – being #600 on my life list – White-chinned Petrel, Black-browed Albatros, Sooty Shearwater, Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatros, Subantartic skua, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatros, Sabine Gull, Wilson’s Storm-Petrel, Black-bellied Storm-Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel, Pintado Petrel.
As we headed back, passing the cormorant spot, we picked up Crowned Cormorant and as we got out of the boat, I added lifer #23 for the day being African Black Oystercatcher.
But our day did not end here.....we headed out for Cape of Good Hope National Park where the 5 of us tried in vain to flush a Hottentot Buttonquail.

Sunday 24 October
Early morning we packed up and headed for Somerset West where we met up with Tertius. We headed for Arabella Equestrian Estate to once again try and flush the Buttonquail. Oh BOY! What an ordeal.... Walking through and over small bushes and shrubs, uphill, downhill, turn and walk back again with two of us not being the tallest, trying to keep up with Tertius’s long strides was quite tough. As if this was not hard enough, the heavens had opened once more and it was pouring, so trying to keep up and keep the bino’s and camera’s dry, eventually made me wonder “ Do I REALLY want to see this damn bird this badly??” Only then he suddenly stopped to ask: ‘Shame are you girls tired? :-D” ....ahhh.....NO!?
Although I picked up one lifer in Grey-backed Cisticola, here I was just too happy to be leaving Arabella.
Next we headed for Rooi Els, for the Cape Rock Jumper and Victorin’s Warbler.
I managed lifer # 41 for the trip in Orange-breasted Sunbird. Ground Woodpeckers, Red-winged Starlings and White-necked Ravens were plentifull, as well as the calls of Peregrine Falcon. But he remained unticked for Mary yet again.
Victorin’s Warblers were calling higher up the hill and none of us really attempted to start climbing up there in the rain. As we eventually turned and started heading back to the carpark, Tertius excitedly picked up the calls of Cape Rockjumpers. Finally! :-D
Fortunately the rain subsided then and I headed uphill to get a closer view. Mary and another birder soon joined me, we sat down quietly in the wet field amongst all the flowers and enjoyed the rockjumpers for the next half an hour. Three birds were relatively close. The one seemed to be a young female. Every now and again begging for food. Dad however was frequently bringing back food to what we suspected to be the nesting site. Tertius was very excited about this and said he would return during the week once the weather had improve, to inspect the site.
Mary, Tertius and I were ready to head to Harold Porter for the Victorin’s but we had strict instructions to head back home now as his wife had prepared a wonderfull Sunday lunch for us. Once relaxing with a glass of wine, he showed me a ‘ Beautifull specimen of Hottentot Buttonquail.....from the freezer :-D We spent the next couple of hours going through some of his most interesting books.
All too soon it was time to say goodbye and head out to the West Coast National Park.

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