30 September 2012 – an unexpected birding milestone…
This morning, Margaret and I headed back to the West Coast National Park where we would be meeting up with Barrie and Roselle Rose, Cliff and Suretha Dorse, Dave Maguire, Johan Marais and Paul Moler for some more herping in the field. The skies were a lot more open today and, hence, it was a lot warmer!
Early finds included Gronovi’s and Silvery Dwarf Burrowing Skinks, Cuvier’s Blind Legless Skink and Namaqua Rain Frog again whilst Margaret also managed to find a fairly large Puffadder. With the help of Johan’s experience with venomous snakes, we were able to get some reasonable photos of the Puffadder in defensive poses.
Again we lucked out finding a handful of Blouwberg Dwarf Burrowing Skinks throughout the morning whilst a single Sand Rain Frog was something we had not found yesterday and a lovely large female Boomslang was a great addition to our challenge list. Hard to believe that it has taken us so long to encounter this rather common species for our challenge.
At around lunch time, just after finishing up with photographing the Boomslang, I received a phone call to say that the Abdim’s Stork had been relocated near Arniston. Suddenly, the focus shifted…! Here was an incredibly rare bird for the province, the only previous record from near Caledon in February 1985. It had first been reported near Arniston on Wednesday while I was stuck in a seminar, but only hung around for a couple of hours before disappearing and had not been seen since. The only problem was that we were now about 300km away from Arniston! Some quick calculations and, eventually, a decision – we were going to go for it! We hit the road immediately picking up a quick take away meal at a small farm stall en route. I got Margaret to type out an alert on my phone to post on SA Rare Bird News and then it was just the long drive. After having to negotiate some seriously frustrating traffic along the way, we eventually found ourselves pulling up at the reported site just after 4pm and couldn’t believe our eyes when we spotted the Abdim’s Stork nonchalantly walking around close to the road. What a great bird to get and well worth the long drive! Also a milestone bird for me as it became the 500th species I had seen within the boundaries of the Western Cape. Not long afterwards, Sion and Tiana Stanton pulled up to enjoy the bird with us as well and, after spending some time photographing it from a less than ideal light angle, we eventually had to start the long drive back home. We arrived home fairly late, but with big smiles on our faces after yet another very successful day out in the field…:)