More touring in our own backyard – Struisbaai, Elim, Gansbaai, Buffelsjag and Die Dam

The morning dawned bright and sunny and Maureen and I set off at 7 for a walk towards Cape Agulhas – half an hour out and half an hour back.  We arrived back to a delicious breakfast cooked by Earl.   The wind was coming up so it was decided that a fishing trip was not an option. Instead we set off on another birding adventure.  This time we followed the gravel road to Elim then made our way to Gansbaai returning via Buffelsjacht and Die Dam.

Our Route - We left at 10 and returned at 6

Our Route – We left at 10 and returned at 6

We set our goal to 60 birds but hoped to better that.

The first bird of the day was a flying yellow-billed kite and we continued to see plenty of them all day.   In the winter our most common bird of prey was a jackal buzzard with just the odd YBK so lovely to see them so active in the area now.

There is a lot of temporary water lying around from the winter rains and this attracts birds but means the permanent water is less productive than usual.

Reed cormorant

We find a lovely reed cormorant sunning himself near a puddle next to the Elim road.

We pass through the Agulhas National Park and so often see ostriches.  Today we found them right on the road.

Mom hurried the chicks and warned them of the dangers of canned people

Mom hurried the chicks along and warned them of the dangers of canned people

Lots of legs and only one head?

Lots of legs and only one head?

Come and help me with this lot, please Dad!

Come and help me with this lot, please Dad!

IMG_9347

We took a short detour towards the salt pans to find the flamingos and were successful but they were too far for good photographs.  On our way back to the Elim road, Maureen yelled – Secretary Bird and we managed to spot two but they ran off very quickly.  Mega tick for the day!

We saw a secretary bird just like this but didn't get the photo! This is from a previous occasion

We saw a secretary bird just like this but didn’t get the photo! This is from a previous occasion

The birding was good and we soon had quite a long list but mostly we enjoyed just watching the antics of the birds.

yellow-billed ducks trying to hide from us

yellow-billed ducks trying to hide from us

We also enjoyed spotting the odd mammal

Rheebok

Rheebok are common in Agulhas National Park and on some of the farms in the area

Levaillant's Cisticola

Levaillant’s Cisticola

White-faced ducks are not that common in the area

White-faced ducks are not that common in the area

By the time we arrived in Gansbaai the wind had got up and was blowing strongly.  We went to the Great White House for coffee and muffins/croissants.  The patio area was sheltered and we enjoyed the sun on our backs and watched the sunbirds, weavers and witogies drinking at the feeder.

Gansbaai is famous for its shark cage diving and whale watching tours.   We watched a boat come in and I spoke to one or two of the passengers when they disembarked from the wale watching trip.  It had not been pleasant in the very choppy waters and many were sea-sick – but don’t be put off – choose a calm day and the experience can be amazing!

A whale watching boat coming in from a very rough sea

A whale watching boat coming in from a very rough sea

In the harbour

In the harbour

A tractor pulls them in

A tractor pulls them out

I find a white-fronted plover scampering about on the harbour wall

I find a white-fronted plover scampering about on the harbour wall

We continue exploring the coastline and find some more interesting birds

A little egret find sea fishing productive

A little egret find sea fishing productive

Two gorgeous oyster catchers

Two gorgeous oyster catchers

A hartlaub's gull in breeding plumage

A hartlaub’s gull in breeding plumage

At Buffelsjacht we spot whales in the bay.

IMG_9608 IMG_9616

A gull with a mussel

A gull with a mussel

A swift tern takes a bath

A swift tern takes a bath

The beach at Die Dam

The beach at Die Dam

On the dune above the beach

the dune above the beach

It was an exciting day and by the time we got to Die Dam we had over 60 bird species on our list.   We were pretty tired but the challenge now was to beat 70 which we had got with Tommy and Megan a few weeks ago.   Just when we thought we’d seen all the possibles for one day we had some really fun sightings.

A distant but obliging Denham's Bustard

A distant but obliging Denham’s Bustard

Two Caspian Terns

Two Caspian Terns

Our national bird posed beautifully in the dam

Our national bird posed beautifully in the dam

A green shank

A green shank

We finally ended up with 72 species which pleased us enormously.

We cooked a Banting Cottage Pie for supper and all opted for an early night!

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One thought on “More touring in our own backyard – Struisbaai, Elim, Gansbaai, Buffelsjag and Die Dam

  1. Gosh never knew there were so many beautiful birds I that part of the world. Enjoy your life there.

    Like

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