CHECK­LIST An­ton Oden­dal’s Top 10 birds at West Coast Na­tional Park

South African Country Life - - Birding Hotspots -

1. The en­demic Grey-winged Francolin (Berg­pa­trys) seems out of place as it mostly oc­curs at much higher lev­els, but this grassy fyn­bos and renos­ter­veld seem to suit it well. Its call is of­ten in com­pe­ti­tion with that of the Cape Spur­fowl early in the morn­ing.

2. The en­demic Black Har­rier (Witkruisvleivalk) is re­garded as En­dan­gered and breeds mostly in fyn­bos in the dryer south-west­ern re­gions of the West­ern Cape. The West Coast Na­tional Park is one of its last strongholds. It largely feeds on vlei rats, mice and small birds.

3. A sum­mer mi­grant from the Arc­tic tun­dra, the Grey Plover (Grysstrand­kiewiet) is mostly found in the in­ter­tidal zones of es­tu­ar­ies. In flight the non-breed­ing birds char­ac­terised by their black armpits are of­ten re­ferred to as ‘Rus­sian ladies’.

4. The Eurasian Curlew (Grootwulp) is sig­nif­i­cantly larger, paler and far less com­mon than the Whim­brel that also fea­tures a down-curved bill. It is glob­ally Near Threat­ened and feeds mostly on aquatic in­ver­te­brates.

5. Count the toes of the San­der­ling on the left and you’ll see the rea­son for its de­scrip­tive Afrikaans name (Dri­etoon­strand­loper). These birds run to and fro as they feed on the beach at the very edge of shal­low waves dur­ing sum­mer.

6. The African Swamphen (Grootkon­ingri­ethaan) is com­mon at the Geel­bek and Abra­ham­skraal hides. Dur­ing breed­ing sea­son the male tends to run around with its wings fixed in this up­right po­si­tion, white vent feath­ers flushed, while scream­ing con­tin­u­ally to im­press fe­males.

7. The res­i­dent Caspian Tern (Reuses­ter­retjie) oc­curs at es­tu­ar­ies, not beaches or rocky shores. It is also found at in­land dams, lakes and pans. It is fairly un­com­mon, but of­ten ob­served at the Lange­baan La­goon while plung­ing from dizzy heights while hunt­ing for fish.

8. Of­ten oc­cur­ing in flocks num­ber­ing sev­eral hun­dred, the Curlew Sand­piper (Krombek­strand­loper) num­bers are dwin­dling and they are now re­garded as glob­ally Near Threat­ened. This bird shows tran­si­tional plumage as it moults be­fore its epic mi­gra­tion to the north.

9. The en­demic Grey Tit (Piet-tjou-tjou-grys­mees) has a pe­cu­liar Afrikaans name, ap­par­ently re­fer­ring to its call. The English name is mis­lead­ing, be­cause the Ashy Tit that oc­curs to the north is greyer. The scrub­lands around Duinepos seem to suit it well as it is a pop­u­lar gar­den bird here.

10. The char­ac­ter­is­tic night sound of Africa is the ‘good Lord de­liver us’ call of the fairly com­mon

Fiery-necked Night­jar (Afrikaanse Naguil). By day it roosts on the ground in veg­e­tated ar­eas but perches in trees at night.

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