10 March 2012 – twitching a provincial mega…

14h00 on Friday finally arrived and, with it, the end of business – although Trevor had been standing outside the door for 15 minutes already, secretly hoping that I would sneak out the office a bit earlier…:)

We were off! Our chase for the Sooty Falcon was on. The Falcon had been seen at the Emily Moon Resort in Plettenberg Bay the previous weekend, but the news only reached us on Monday morning and placed everyone in a very difficult situation. Some had leave forms signed and had managed to get to Plett during the week, but we were not amongst those lucky few…

The trip there was long. The roadworks between Riversdale and Mossel Bay were terrible and even leaving Cape Town was not great. I think all Capetonians that were not involved in the Argus Cycle Tour were getting the hell out of there. We finally arrived at our accommodation, Pumula Lodge in Knysna, just before 9pm! We had previously stayed with Pieter and Rensia Ellis, the hosts at Pumula Lodge, and their place is absolutely lovely. The rooms are great and the garden is spectacular.

Pumula Lodge

The gardens at the lodge

Our room

We were up early (04h00) to get ready. Coffee with Pieter at 04h45 and it was clear that Trevor was becoming a bit edgy. We arrived at Emily Moon just before 6am. It was still dark, but a few people had started gathering. Some locals, some from Port Elizabeth and then the cars with the Capetonians started pouring in…

Everyone started scanning through trees. Unfortunately it had drizzled overnight, so a few concerns were raised about the effect that would have on the bird. Apparently, it did affect it. It was not doing what it had been doing the whole of the past week. In the past week, the bird had been roosting in the trees in the parking area at sunrise and then it would drop down to the telephone lines running below Emily Moon. There was absolutely no sign of any falcon now – not to mention a Sooty Falcon…

The spirits were fading and you start reprimanding yourself for not making a plan to get there during the week. Even Trevor wasn’t looking too happy.

And then Vernon bellowed…..

People were running from everywhere. Some of us for the first time in a very long time!!! And there it was, sitting on the telephone lines. What a bird and what an emotional roller coaster. The bird eventually hung around for over an hour for all of us to enjoy.

Sooty Falcon

Twitchers enjoying the bird

Scope views were enjoyed...

Photographs were taken...

There were many relieved faces...

And everyone got a chance to enjoy the bird

Another bonus for the morning was a Cape Grass Lizard spotted by Mike Buckham which was a full lifer for Trevor and I.

Trevor photographing the lizard

Cape Grass Lizard

Cape Grass Lizard

We then took a drive out to the Karatara area where we were told of a few Amur Falcons hanging around – we still needed this species for our challenge list. We were pleasantly surprised to find more than 20 individuals which is a little unusual for the province.

Amur Falcon

The following morning we decided to go back to Emily Moon hoping to get slightly better pictures than the day before and we had a little more success.

Unfortunately, with a long drive back to Cape Town, we couldn’t hang around too long. Back to our accommodation and a lovely breakfast with Pieter and Rensia and then we had to hit the road for the long slog home totally satisfied that we had been successful in our quest!

Sooty Falcon

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~ by hardakerwildlife on March 21, 2012.

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