04 November 2012 – when raptors are actually wild geese…
A Bateleur, an extremely rare bird in the Western Cape and one we had not seen before in the province, had been reported from near De Hoop Nature Reserve on Monday afternoon and, subsequently, another report surfaced from 2 weeks prior to that in the same general area as well. Twitching mobile raptors is obviously like looking for a needle in a haystack, the proverbial wild goose chase, but if one doesn’t give it a go, you will never know what your chances are. Today was the first day that we could actually even get out there to give it a try, so after a fairly early start and driving the 2 hours to get there, we began our search.
John Graham and Heyne and Sharon Brink were also out looking for the bird, so we were able to cover a greater area and just keep in touch by phone. How does one search for a mobile raptor that is not exactly where it was originally reported from…? Well, you just drive around aimlessly and hope that you will just bump into it!
We meandered through the farm roads of the Overberg for many hours over the course of the day, stopping only when the odd photographic opportunity presented itself (even although most of them were in rather poor light!) and we managed to see a few birds that are regular for the area. We did get to see a number of raptors during the course of the day, but unfortunately, none of them miraculously morphed into a Bateleur, so eventually, we had to admit defeat and began the long drive home which is always just a little depressing after having dipped on a bird…:(