17 August 2013 – twitching madness…
Today was one of those mad days where we would be chasing regional rarities all around the province! We left home at around 4 am and drove just short of 400km to get to a place called Matjesvlei very near to Calitzdorp in the Little Karoo. The reason for this was that there had been reports recently of a small group of White-fronted Bee-eaters, a species that we still needed to photograph for our challenge and a rather rare bird in the province as well as a single Common Scimitarbill, a full Western Cape lifer for us, from this area.
Arriving there just after 8am, we set about trying to find the birds. It didn’t take too long before we found the Bee-eaters, but a little longer to get a photo of one of them. Surprisingly, we saw at least 8 of these birds there and they seemed to be possibly breeding in one of the sand banks along the river. Given that the closest known population is near Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, some 500km east of here, this was a pretty weird record.
We then set about trying to find the Common Scimitarbill. We walked for a long time not finding anything until, eventually, Trevor caught a glimpse of it across the river. It then took quite a bit longer before we saw it again but, by 10:30am, we were starting to get a little concerned that we hadn’t had even vaguely decent views of it yet let alone any photos. One last attempt and we finally found it sitting up and we were able to get a few record shots before it disappeared off again. Another great Western Cape bird in the bag…!
We then climbed into the car again and began our next drive, this time to Sedgefield about 200km away, where we hoped to catch up with a Red-capped Robin-chat that had been located there recently. This was a first record for the Western Cape province and one we definitely wanted to see. Arriving at the site, a residential garden in Sedgefield, it took us all of about a minute before we caught our first glimpse of the bird. Success! However, trying to get a photo of it was a completely different story and we spent quite some time before managing to get a few record shots.
After a quick lunch at a local take-away, we then began the long drive back home (just over 500km) feeling very satisfied that we had connected with all of our targets on this mad day. Sometimes, these odd things just need to be done…:)