A Saturday Saunter down South.

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Estuary sandbank

Last month Mike and I (Jane) decided to head down south of Durban and see if we could pick up some early arriving waders .  We started the morning at aManzimtoti Estuary where a Bar-tailed Godwit had been seen.  There it was just waiting for us to arrive, busy feeding around the edge of the centre sandbank within the estuary mouth area.  

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Bar-tailed Godwit.

The sandbank also accommodated a single Common Sandpiper, a collection of Greater Crested Terns, a group of four Pink-backed Pelicans that came and went, a few White-fronted Cormorants and some Grey-headed and Kelp Gulls completed the picture.   A few small waders joined the throng at various times, Common and Threebanded Sandpiper were feeding along the edge of the estuary with a very vociferous Cape Wagtail while Blacksmith Lapwings paraded up and down the shoreline.  

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Common Sandpiper

Reed Cormorants with outstretched wings enjoyed the sun while perched on the dead tree in the water. Little Egrets patrolled the edge of the reeds looking for tasty morsels while Little Beeeater hawked from the overhanging vegetation.  Looking out to sea we could see Cape Gannets searching the sea and then plunging into the water – there must have been a few sardines still making their way up the coast.  Just as we were ready to leave a bevy of seven Common Sandpiper came and joined the throng on the sandbank in the lagoon making for some very pleasant birding.    

From here we decided to explore the Mondi Canal.  I had not been there before but Nicky Forbes kindly sent me a pin and it was right on target – thank you Nicky.

The first bird we encounter in great numbers was Black-winged Stilt, a host of adults and some juveniles all feeding in the canal.  

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Juvenile Black-winged Stilt

Closer inspection revealed the speckled backs of Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper was bobbing his tail as he is wont to do and Little Stint was conspicuous by its diminutive size especially when it flew across and foraged next to the Greenshank that was present.  

Wood Sandpiper and Little Stint

A Crake popped out of the under growth along the canal for one very quick glimpse – no time to ID it before it had concealed itself again.  Plovers were represented by Three-banded, Blacksmith and Kittlitz’s which had two chicks standing stock still between the grass.  

Kittlitz’s Plover
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Spot the two Kittlitz’s Plover chicks

An African Pipit was running about on the grass verge and a Long-crested Eagle gave us a grand fly past.

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African Pipit

Taking a walk down the canal towards the sea revealed six Juvenile Greater Flamingo in cohorts with a gaggle of Egyptian Geese.

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Greater Flamingo juveniles plus Egyptian Geese

 An African Fish Eagle, Cape and Pied Wagtails completed the picture.

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African Pied Wagtail

The sea gave us lovely views of whales frolicking out to sea with many a tail fluke and fins waved about while closer to shore a pod of dolphins swam down the coast, there were no birds to be seen at all.  

Having had a fantastic morning birding our last bird of the day was an alien species, a House Crow!! 

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House Crow

What a way to end a lovely birding experience.

Photos and report by Jane Morris

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