Some of you may know that there were problems with the SANPArks server over the weekend and I could get no 3G connection from Addo on Saturday or Sunday. Hopefully this posting of my notes belatedly will still be of interest – just pretend its real time!
An early rise this morning (not as early as the group who went to Darlington Dam) saw us gather at reception in Main Camp Addo. There were only 7 of us heading for this destination in 2 vehicles. We would head through the game area – into the Matyholweni Section – through the hamlet of Colchester and down to the river mouth. The weather was good and we headed through the gate before it was open to the public. The Addo thicket may not have the same species diversity as bushveld, but nevertheless those species that are present certainly make for a good symphony. Chief performers were Bokmakierie, Sombre Greenbul, Cape Robin-chat, Southern Boubou, Bar-throated Apalis, Greater Double-Collared Sunbird, Cape and Dark-capped Bulbul (Addo is at the meeting point of these 2 divergent species and they do interbreed at times in the park). Support performances came from Neddicky, Karoo Scrub Robin, Brimstone Canary, Malachite Sunbird and Fiscals Shrike and Flycatcher. Just through the gate we had a group of African Firefinches and a Jacobin Cuckoo perched out in the open and calling raucously its mocking chant.
Other good birds on our way through the game area included Pearl-breasted Swallow, Red-necked Spurfowl, Jackal and Steppe Buzzard, while those in the lead bakkie got Swee Waxbill, Knysna Woodpecker, Grassbird and Forest Weaver as we passed through a wooded kloof.
After we crossed the N2 at Colchester we witnessed a frantic chase as a Diderick Cuckoo was shepherded away from the local weaver nests. And now we were moving into dune thicket. A real bonus was a Brown Scrub Robin! We also had nice sightings of Cape Canary, Chorister Robin-chat, Olive Thrush, Giant and Pied Kingfishers and Amethyst Sunbird as we made our way along the river. We saw a couple of waders – Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Whimbrel and a Caspian Tern flew up river with its typical bobbing heavy flight.
Then after we met the section ranger and were escorted onto the estuary flats we saw plenty of busy little White-fronted Plovers, some African Black Oystercatchers, Cape and Grey-headed Gulls, some Sanderlings before we positioned ourselves next to the morning’s big attraction – the tern roost. There were hundreds of them, a really misture of shapes and sizes, but Swift, Sandwich and Common were the only species positively identifiable.
Then Jed – the Honorary Ranger group leader – asked me if I’d seen the Damara Terns, to which I replied I hadn’t. However as we took out our lunch boxes and sat there watching for the better part of the next hour I was delighted to see several of these dainty little birds in breeding plumage fly past at close range. A fitting climax to an inspiring morning. The trek back was long (I confess I battled to keep my eyes open). Anyway, back at camp now and waiting to do a brief drive into the grasslands in the main viewing area at about 16h00 to try and get additional species, just because we can!