So it was off to the West Coast National Park again this weekend, not for birding but to eat a slice of Geelbek restaurant’s divine, and famous, cake. The justification: a shared birthday which my best friend and I were celebrating. We get to the park entrance and there is only one car at the gate, we enter and drive at snails pace. Nope, not because I was scanning every bossie, but because ever few hundred meters a pair (other than one female) of beautiful Namaqua doves were meticulously searching the tar for…actually I have no clue. Try as I might I can not get close enough to see what they are eating off the road, (even though my brand new car/b-day pressie is as quiet as a mouse.) Eventually I become aware of a very silent (read: chomping at the bit) husband and that we were supposed to be at Geelbek in a few minutes. But mother nature has her own plans and as we ascended a hill I am forced to drive at sauntering ostrich speed…for quite some time. Eventually I carefully edge past the nonchalant bird, keenly aware that those feet could inflict horrendous damage to my shiny little car, should it take umbrage. But it just stands to one side and watches us bemusedly. Game over. Just before reaching Geelbek we spot 2 African Hoepoe.
Once coffee and cake were demolished my friend’s soon to be 5 years old daughter pipes up “can we go to the birdhide again?” Ah a little person after my own heart!!! My answering grin probably gave me away but all agreed to go. Unfortunately the wind had picked up somewhat by then and the walk to the hide was more about lizards than birds, plenty of them lying in the warmth of the sun which peeped out from behind the clouds every so often. At the birdhide little Eden peered out through the “windows” as did I, but only a lonely Greater Flamingo floated in the shallows, although the opposite shore was dotted with plenty of flamingo’s. Eventually we walked back and Eden was delighted when a tortoise crossed our path. She stroked it’s shell gently until it shyly peered out.
The drive back provided sightings of the usual suspects, namely, Karoo Prinia, Malachite and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, Cape Bulbul as well as the ever present summer visitors, the Yellow-billed kites. I must comment that the park was wonderfully empty due to the fact that most of the country was nursing dreadful hangovers…..we had won the rugby world cup the previous night.