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 Post subject: Arks in the Cape: West Coast National Park Sept/Oct 2007
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 06, 2008 11:22 pm 
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Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
Better late than never, :redface: :wink: I am finally getting around to writing my various 2007 Cape parks' reports. The West Coast National Park is one of my favourites, and thanks to my WildCard, I was able to make two WCNP visits in September and October 2007.

28 September 2007

I spent the last week of September in Darling, where I was volunteering with The Darling Trust, a charitable organisation with which I now have an ongoing and deepening association. I will be returning to Darling for a more extended stay and further work with the trust in November 2008.

During my week in Darling, I was able to visit WCNP on one of the very last days that the Postberg section was still open. I had been hoping to get an up-close look at the Postberg eland and other elusive mammals, but that was not to be. Fortunately, I'd had many excellent eland sightings during my two weeks in Kgalagadi, and Postberg - as well as the rest of WCNP - offers much else, so I spent a most rewarding day.

The Postberg flowers were somewhat past their prime at this very late date, but the scenery and the sea views in WCNP are always lovely and I added two new birds to my list. Neither the bokmakierie nor the European bee eater are uncommon, but I'd never seen either before and I had quite good views of both, as well as of many other birds.

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WCNP southern entrance gate and Langebaan Lagoon looking towards Geelbek

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the last of the flowers in Postberg

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Plankiesbaai

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views over Saldanha Bay and Langebaan

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my first bokmakieries (is the one on the left immature?)

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 8:04 am 
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Thanks Arks for this little report on WCNP...a gem on my doorstep that I do not visit often enough ! :redface: I must get out there soon....apparently the flowers are beginning to bloom.
Lovely photos..any idea what the little LBJ is ??? I think the bokmakieire on the left is immature. The ostrich family running down the road is too cute and so are the baby bontebok!
Thanks for sharing ! :lol:

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13-15th Oct Kgalagadi Lodge
16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
:) :) :) :) :)


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 9:21 pm 
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Thanks all for your very nice comments :D

@ MN: Thanks for confirming the immature bokmakierie. And the LBJ is, according to the bird forum fundis who helped me with IDing it, an African pipit.

@ Pumbaa: Yes, there is more to come :wink: , but I'll have to wait for the page to turn before posting the pix from my second WCNP visit.


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 07, 2008 10:04 pm 
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I don't suppose you have the GPS co -ordinates of that Pipit , Arks ??? :wink: BTW..did you not see any tortoises on that trip ...everytime I go to WCNP I play dodgem cars with the tortoises...they seem to be everywhere!!!
But then I did not see a chameleon ! :cry:

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13-15th Oct Kgalagadi Lodge
16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
:) :) :) :) :)


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 1:05 am 
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The West Coast HRs used to have a book at the visitor centre to keep track of tortoise sightings, since I gather the Angulate Tortoise is endangered? In April 2006 I saw very few in WCNP (tho I saw a lot that trip at Cape Point), but this year, on my second WCNP visit, I saw nearly 30, and then found that they no longer have the book to record sightings! :?

I realise that I forgot to include my 28 September sightings in my first post, so here is the list of all that I saw on this WCNP visit:

28 September 2007 sightings
ostrich, angulate tortoise, sacred ibis, cattle egret, pied crow, Cape francolin, Cape wagtail, bontebok, bokmakierie, yellowbilled kite, gulls, African pipit, European bee eater, fiscal shrike, Cape sparrow, bully canary, chameleon, gemsbok, blackheaded heron, Cape mountain zebra, wildebeest, helmeted guinea fowl, thickbilled lark, springbok, Hadaeda ibis, Egyptian goose, ?mouse?, ?mongoose? (no idea what sort as it disappeared too quickly, might have been grey mongoose or water mongoose?), Cape bulbul, grey heron

It was really a very rewarding afteroon! 8)


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:26 am 
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I'm delighted that so many of you are enjoying my WCNP report 8) Thanks for all the nice comments! :D And now that the page has turned, here's part 2.

16 October 2007

At the very end of my stay in the Cape, I paid one last visit to both Darling and earlier on the same day, to WCNP - a perfect au revoir. I left Cape Town very early and arrived at WCNP a bit before 08h00. It was a lovely warm and sunny Spring day and there were still plenty of interesting flowers in bloom and as always, lots of birds. I meandered slowly along the park's western road, visiting favourite spots and ending at Tsaarsbank, which is probably my favourite place in this park. My early start gave me nearly six hours to enjoy this very special park before heading off to my meeting in Darling.

At Abrahamskraal waterhole, I enjoyed watching a pair of white pelicans drying their feathers. I also spent quite some time observing what turned out to be a pair of immature blackshouldered kites. And a bit later, I spotted what I was later able to ID as my first-ever black harrier!

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immature blackshouldered kites (also below) & cottage at Abrahamskraal
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whitebacked pelicans at Abramhamskraal & in flight, heading west

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Langebaan Lagoon (views north & south)
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black harrier
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three of the 30+ angulate tortoises I saw on this visit
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on a clear day you can see the shipwreck just south of Tsaarsbank
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endangered African oystercatchers at Tsaarsbank

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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 3:06 am 
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Thanks for your nice comments, anne-marie and Illie. :D I realise that I neglected to include my sightings list for 16 October, so here it is:

16 October 2007 sightings
ostrich, pied crow, immature blackshouldered kites, pintailed whydah, sacred ibis, Cape sugarbird, neddicky, white pelican, black harrier, angulate tortoise, bokmakierie, blackheaded heron, Karoo robin, whitethroated canary, ?mouse?, whitefaced mousebird, Karoo prinia, African black oystercatcher, kelp gull, Hartlaub's gull, reed cormorant, puff adder, Cape wagtail, greybacked cisticola, yellow canary, pied starling, helmeted guineafowl, Cape francolin, Cape weaver, fiscal shrike, redwinged starling, spoonbill, grey heron


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 10:10 am 
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Hi Arks...thanks for the update. Your photos are a true reflection of WCNP :clap: :clap:

I am not meaning to contradict you in any way but your puff adder confused me a bit. It looks a bit different to the puff adders that I have seen in KTP and here in Cape Town ...but I do know that puff adders vary greatly in colour. So I went off to my snake book and discovered that there is a Southern Adder that one finds in low-lying coastal areas...especially WCNP. So I for one am going to look more closely next time I come across an adder. I always just presume it is a puff adder !
As I said not meaning to contradict but I found this excercise rather interesting so I thought I would share it with you ! :lol:

_________________
13-15th Oct Kgalagadi Lodge
16th Oct - Twee Rivieren
17-19 Oct - Urikaruus. :)
:) :) :) :) :)


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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 2:35 am 
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Thanks Wanda and Michele for your kind comments. I do love this park and envy you living so relatively close by :mrgreen:

@ Wanda: Did you know that you can stay in the Abrahamskraal cottage? If you go to the availability page and then click on Abrahamskraal, there are some nice pix of the interior 8) It looks really nice — and quite affordable, too!

@ Michele: That's really interesting about the adder. I also always have just presumed that it's a puff adder and had no idea that there was a similar one. Thanks for the interesting information! I will have to have a look at an RSA snake book, to get a better sense of the differences.

Meanwhile, I decided to see what google might turn up and found a southern adder thread right here on our forum :roll: :wink: Looking at those photos, it looks like the southern adder is a "horned" adder? Anyway, quite different from mine, so for now I think I'll stick with puff adder.


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 Post subject: Re: Arks in the Cape: West Coast National Park Sept/Oct 2007
Unread postPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2008 11:08 pm 
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Thanks Arks for pics....stunning shots of the park we love.
Sorry I've only just picked up on this thread.
Interesting the Pelicans were most likely heading to their breading place on Dassen Island....but they are a problem. As u know they are fish eating but they have acquired a taste for white meat, so around Oct to beginning Jan they raid the breading nests o the Cormorants and Gannets on Jutten and Malgas Islands. We did duty last year on these islands chasing them off. WE believe we saved quite a few chics in an 8 week period.
Loved your photo's!!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Arks in the Cape: West Coast National Park Sept/Oct 2007
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:08 am 
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Thanks for your compliments, Tony. You are fortunate to live so close to this very special pace!

Very interesting about the pelicans :shock: Are those the islands in the mouth of Saldahna Bay? I've only seen them from afar, but recall reading about the breeding colonies on them. However, I didn't know that pelicans were a problem, I'd thought it was those BIG gulls. It must be very gratifying to take part in defending the chicks :clap:


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 Post subject: Re: Arks in the Cape: West Coast National Park Sept/Oct 2007
Unread postPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2008 8:24 pm 
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Quite correct Arks, they are the 2 islands at the mouth of the lagoon and entrance to Saldahna harbour. In the early 1900's they farmed gauno on them so there is accomodation there though no water.
Any hatchling is fair game to the Pelicans. Some would say that nature must take it's course but scientific studies by UCT paint a dim picture if there is no intervention.
They are allowed on Jutten but are coerced away from protected parts. The island is devided into 'no go' areas for the Pelicans so hopefully the breading birds will remember this the following year.
I retired to Langebaan and am very happy here but I have a very soft spot for Darling . Enjoy your trip.


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