23 May 2012

Paarl

I felt like taking a quick break from my Namibian chronicle and decided to focus instead on something that happened about two weeks ago. Before I went to Namibia, I met a man by the name of Les Underhill who is in charge of the South African Bird Atlas Project II (frequently condensed to SABAPII on the interwebs). He put me in touch with a man by the name of Pieter La Grange, and I soon found myself surveying the Paarl pentad with him.
Our morning started out quite well, with us heading up Paarl Mountain to see what we could find. The slopes were productive, with a pair of African Harrier-Hawk patrolling the slopes, Southern Boubou singing from the nearby thickets, and Rameron Pigeons (such as the one to right I photographed in Jonkershoek) flying between the trees. The garden at the top of the mountain kept us interested, with Bar-throated Apalis, three species of Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, and Cape Batis. We soon wrapped up our high elevation survey and headed down to the Paarl Bird Reserve in town.

For me, the Paarl reserve was fantastic. Having been trapped in the fynbos for most of the semester, the reserve was like Christmas for me, with ducks and gulls everywhere. Upon driving up, I was instantly with my lifer Grey-hooded Gull, sitting right in front of my lifer White-faced Whistling-Ducks!

The excitement continued however, as my aquatic lifers stacked up. Red-billed Ducks and Cape Teal swam among the Cape Shovelers, African Black Ducks and Yellow-billed Ducks, and I even managed to spot a lone Hottentot Teal foraging along the edge of the reeds. Hundreds of Helmeted Guineafowl ran through the open, gravelly areas while Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Glossy Ibis, and a lone Greater Flamingo foraged along the edges of the lake. I finally caught up with a bird I had missed in Ecuador, Southern Pochard, and we even managed to refind the lone African Jacana that had been reported in the area a few weeks before. Overall, it was a fantastic morning. You can check out all of my pictures on my eBird checklist.

Glancing at the clock now, guilt is starting to well up inside me again... I need to get back to work. Halfway through finals, and soon, I'll more time to write (and bird!). 

Grey-hooded Gull (Chroicocephalus cirrhocephalus) in Paarl, South Africa.



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