Seen from the Shore

During the first few months of this year, I spent quite a bit of time observing shorebirds along our little part of the coastline in Hermanus, and further afield at De Mond, Velddrift and Langebaan. Having been able to closely observe the Common Whimbrel along the rocky shore, I was keen to track down its larger relative – the Eurasian Curlew – which is undergoing a population crash in its northern Hemisphere breeding range and is now a scarce summer migrant to South Africa. This larger bird occurs only on mudflats, and a description of my eventual encounters with this wonderful, scythe-billed wader will appear in my next blog entry. But now, with winter on its way and the Palearctic shorebirds having left for their breeding haunts, my attention has turned to birds of the open sea. Never having lived – or even spent much time – by the ocean, there is so much to learn . . .

Here are a few recent observations made along our local coastal path in Vermont, west of Hermanus.

Swift Tern (Thalasseus bergii) pair above Walker Bay in sunset courtship flight.

Cape Gannets (Morus capensis) close inshore, flying rapidly above the waves.

A number of Sooty Shearwaters (Puffinus griseus) appeared during stormy weather.

Cape Gannets (Morus capensis) plunging for their fish prey.

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