21 March 2013 – another day, another dip…
News had been spread of a breeding male Shaft-tailed Whydah that had been seen near the town of Op-die-berg in the Koue Bokkeveld yesterday. This is an incredibly rare bird in the Western Cape with only a handful of records and, since we still needed this one for our provincial lists, we joined up with Cliff and Suretha Dorse for a little chase. It was about a 2 hour drive from home and, after a fairly lazy start, we arrived at the site at around 9am.
The area consisted of a mosaic of open farmlands and protea stands with a few small copses of alien trees as well. Over the course of the next few hours, we scoured the area quite methodically enjoying the many sugarbirds and sunbirds in the protea stands as well as a number of other common species. We also located a number of other common seedeater flocks and carefully scanned through those in the hope of finding the whydah, but it was not to be.
After many hours of searching, we eventually resigned ourselves to the fact that the bird could literally be anywhere. There was so much suitable habitat in the area and, if it was feeding on seeds on the ground in one of the many farmland fields around us, it was going to be so easy to miss it. Unless the bird flew up or perched on an obvious place, we had little chance of connecting with it. However, it was still good to work through an area that we generally have not spent too much time in and we still got to see a few nice birds anyway. The drive home was broken with a stop on Bain’s Kloof to, once again, look for and dip on Cape Ghost Frog for our challenge list. Not the most memorable of days out in the field but, then again, even a bad day in the field beats spending a day in the office…:)