We were blessed with good weather while at the Cape. Prepared for rain and low temperatures, we were happily spared both, although South Africa as a whole needs rain.
Our second day, August 26, we traveled south from Cape Town to Strandfontein Wetlands. This is actually a sewerage treatment area, but there’s little olfactory evidence of its actual purpose. (In the US, we would use “sewage” instead of “sewerage,” the word used by the facility in South Africa.) The area is also highly attractive to birds, both grassland species and waterbirds. We saw some little grassland species, such as the Karoo Prinia and Levaillant’s Cisticola. The Prinia’s call is a regular buzzy call, but the Cisticola’s is more melodious.
When we arrived we learned that several avid birders, Twitchers by nick-name, were hoping for another glance of the Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin, the wayward migrant I mentioned in an earlier post. We had several brief glimpses of the Fiscal Flycatcher while waiting. We walked along, looked at the Prinia and Cisticola, then returned, just as the Scrub Robin appeared on a log, perking up its tail similarly to a wren.
That lovely surprise was followed by beautiful flowers and lots of waterbirds. We saw Cape Teal and Red-billed Teal. Teal are small ducks; we have a few species in North America, as well. Both the Red-billed Teal and the Cape Teal have red bills. The Red-billed, however, also has a black head. Easy to tell them apart with that field mark. We also saw Cape Shovelers, with that unique filtering bill that shovelers have. The sexes look alike except for eye color; the male’s is yellow.
The teal seemed to enjoy the company of a Black-winged Stilt. The reason for its name is obvious! We made our way to an observation blind, called a hide locally, where Greater Flamingos abounded, flying back and forth. Trying to capture these beautiful, but ungainly, flyers was quite a challenge.
Hanging out on some piers were Sacred Ibis, Hartlaub’s Gulls, and Swift Terns, also known as Greater Crested Terns.
After a long but lovely morning at the wetlands we sought out some lunch, then made our way to Table Mountain. It was a beautiful day–no rain, not a lot of wind–so our hopes were high that we would ride the cable car to the top for some magnificent views of Cape Town and the rest of the vicinity. No such luck. We unloaded from the van, which Kim parked, then strolled down to the ticket booth, only to learn that summer hours didn’t begin until next week. Nor were we the only ones disappointed. As we engaged (argued) with the agent, another tour guide, with her entourage and a similar understanding as ours, aonly to be equally surprised and disappointed. The cable cars were indeed running, but the final group had already ascended, and the cars were only bringing people down. We debated briefly about trying to come the next day, but rejected that plan since it would come at the cost of something else more desirable. Still, the view of Cape Town from the parking area is nevertheless lovely.
We ended the day with a beautiful sunset over Chapman’s Bay.
Enjoy these images from south of Cape Town.