08 September 2012 – another day, another dip…

With the discovery of a Tawny Eagle at Helderberg Nature Reserve yesterday, there was no doubt as to where I was going to be today! Unfortunately, Margaret already had a prior commitment, so I was going to be on my own. I took a fairly leisurely drive through to the reserve meeting up with Michael McSweeny and Geoff Finney when I arrived there. We walked around a bit trying to position ourselves in a fairly open area where we could have a decent view across the valley in case any raptors flew by. A number of fynbos species were active close by and I took the opportunity to photograph a few things around us while we waited.

Cape Sugarbird

Cape Grassbird

A little later, Bryn de Kocks, who had originally found the bird, phoned me to find out where we were and suggested that we come to where he was a little closer to the entrance to the reserve. We made our way across to this area meeting up with locals Basil Boer and Johan Slabbert on the way there who joined up with us. Bryn walked us across to where he had first seen the bird and we found a likely looking place to stand and wait. All eyes were pointed at the sky as we watched for any form of raptor activity…

Over the next few hours, we saw plenty of raptors. Both Black and Rufous-chested Sparrowhawks were active as well as the local “Cape” Buzzards, the bizarre mystery buzzards that do not fit any other species locally. Their plumage does not match either Steppe or Forest Buzzards and there is currently a lot of work being done on them to try and work out exactly what they are. A couple of Jackal Buzzards were also seen as well as a couple of pale morph Booted Eagles and the biggest surprise of the day, a distant Long-crested Eagle. This is almost certainly the same individual that took up residence at Helderberg College in October 2010 and has been hanging around in the area ever since then.

Black Sparrowhawk

“Cape” Buzzard

Hours passed and still no sign of the damn eagle though! Yellow-billed Kites, more Buzzards, more Sparrowhawks, but no eagle. An Olive Woodpecker sat in an awkward position for photos, but was nevertheless a welcome distraction from staring at little specks in the sky! Eventually, after 7 hours of constant scanning, my eyes were starting to feel very tired, so I called it a day and headed back home. I guess it will just have to be another dip added to the already very long list of those. it would have been a cracking bird to add to my Western Cape list, but it was just not going to be…:(

Olive Woodpecker

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~ by hardakerwildlife on October 3, 2012.

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