20 Jun 2009

South Africa - Constantinia Greenbelts, Kirstenbosch & Strandfontein

Eddie's fame preceeded him to S Africa where, due to his exploits opening up new birding routes in Cameroon, local guide Callan Cohen wanted to meet up and show us a couple of good local areas. We quite liked the idea of using Callan's expertise to find the elusive Kynysa Warbler so arranged to meet and explore the Constantinia Greenbelts where this elusive endemic apparantely hangs out. Despite it being a bit late for them to be singing we gave it our best shot but to no avail. We did manage to connect with a few other local endemics and had good views of the stunning Cape Batis & Cape Boubou.

We also saw Olive Thrush in this area and a stop at a raptor watch point proved succesful when Callan 'ticked' African Sea Eagle for his Kirstenbosch list - running up the road and through an ope ngate to ensure he was'in' Kirstenbosch. Whilst searching for the elusive warbler we also found a pair of equally elusive Lemon Doves whilst Forest Canary and an African Monarch Butterfly provided photographic interest.

Lunch with Callan and visiting Haiwaian birder Anna gave us time to catch up on the resident Spotted Eagle Owls and another good local bird - Olive Pigeon (now renamed Rameroon Pigeon).

With Callan out of time we decided to head for the (in)famous Strandfontein Sewage Works - a site just like the sewage works of old in the UK with huge attenuation ponds full of wildfowl & waders surrounded by extensive reedbeds. Finding the site was quite diffcult - we could smell it but struggled ot find the right road, Eventually we arrived and were treated to a host of new birds. African Marsh Harriers quartered the reedbeds whislt African Reed Warblers proved to be as frustratingly elusive as their European counterparts. Lavallients Cisticolla was a good find but the star birds were the ones in or on the water - Cape Teal, Southern Pochard, B N Grebes, B W Stilts, Maccoa Duck, Purple Galinu, Red-knoobed Coot, Greater Flamingo, White Pelican, Cattle Egret, Night Heron & Black-headed Heron all vied for our attention. The most unusual bird though was a 'wintering' European Barn Swallow.

With the light fading we had time to check one more reed fringed pond and struck lucky with one of our target birds - African Black Crake.

Unfortunatley we didn't have time to return to this site but even in a short trip we managed an impressive list of new birds. The next installment of our trip report will include shots of the one bird I really wanted to see - the legendary Cape Rockjumper. There would have been some serious sulking going on if we hadn't seen this local endemic!!!

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