05 May 2012 – of challenges, socials and super moons
The last week had delivered 3 separate records of African Jacana around Cape Town, a rare species for the province, especially so close to our home, and one we still needed for the challenge. We weighed up the options and decided to chase the one closest to us (which had also been reported as still being present more recently than the others.) In retrospect, this decision was not great as it did not provide the greatest photographic opportunities and, as it turned out, the other 2 individuals were also still around on the weekend as well.
But anyway, off we went to Zandvlei early in the morning. We had studied the area via Google Earth and, since the actual nature reserve would not be open on the weekend, we decided that viewing from in front of the Scout Hall in Lakeside would be our best bet. It was only on arrival that we realized just how far the birds actually were. With a lot of human activity around the Scout Hall, the birds were all far away – well, at least 150m away. This meant that we first had to scan with the scope through the myriad of birds that were there – surprisingly, there were particularly good numbers of White-backed Ducks on the water, a species that can prove to be quite tricky in and around Cape Town. Eventually, we picked up on the Jacana in the distance as it wandered around on the surface vegetation in amongst all the waterfowl. Getting photos of it was a whole other ball game due to the distance and, even with a big lens and extender attached, it ended up being nothing more than a very poor record shot. But, nevertheless, African Jacana was now good and solidly on our challenge list! The rest of the area had most of the common water birds with good numbers of herons and egrets, several species of ducks, lots of coots and moorhens and even an African Fish Eagle for distraction. Eventually, we headed back home to go and get ready for our afternoon excursion.
A social get-together had been set up for the afternoon at Intaka Island Wetland Reserve in Century City. This little wetland, in amongst a heavily built up area, is a wonderful little gem and is becoming more and more popular amongst photographers who are looking for an escape close to home.
We spent some time wandering around the reserve taking photos of some of the more common species and secretly hoping that a Greater Painted Snipe might put in an appearance for our challenge list, but this was not to be unfortunately once again!! By 16h00, we had made our way back to the visitor centre to meet up with everybody. There is a wonderful little birding and photography community growing at Intaka and it was good to finally get to put faces to names of a number of people that we had only previously met through social media.
Tonight was also “Super Moon” night, so once back at home, we also took the opportunity to take a few arb photos of the moon. Supposedly, it was the closest to Earth that it had been in a number of years, but in all honesty, it didn’t look all that different to any other full moon that we had seen before. Oh well, perhaps we are just uninformed…:)