A scorcher at Rooisand

Carin and I arrived early in the afternoon to a scorching Rooisand. Using my scope, I scanned into the distance for waders and only saw heat-hazed white blobs. We made our way a short distance up the shoreline towards Arabella. Several Little Stints and Curlew Sandpipers waded in the shallows. Common Ringed and Kittlitz’s Plovers ran up and down the shoreline. On a peninsula a mixed group of terns stood by the resident wild horses. A single African Snipe slowly made its way through the grass verges.

A Pelican soars over the estuary on its way to land.
Great White Pelican (Graeme Hatley)
A juvenile Balc-winged Stilt moves through the shallows.
Juvenile Black-winged Stilt (Graeme Hatley)
A Curlew Sandpiper coming into breeding colours stalks the shallows for food.
Curlew Sandpiper (Graeme Hatley)
A tight group of Curlew Sandpipers fly quickly over the water's surface.
Curlew Sandpipers (Graeme Hatley)

One of the goals for the afternoon was to spend a few hours in the hide and try our luck for the Pectoral Sandpiper which had been reported. The shade of the hide provided welcome relief from the sun. It also provided a superb vantage point to observe the hundreds of birds around us. I have never seen so many Cape Teals in one location. There were also large numbers Yellow-billed Ducks, Spur-winged Geese and South African Shelducks.

With this number of birds present, there was plenty of opportunity to see interactions. Our first was seeing a pair of Grey-hooded Gulls chasing down a Pied Kingfisher that had just caught a fish. The unfortunate kingfisher was forced to drop her catch to escape their harassment. But it wasn’t only big guys picking on little guys. A Little Stint took issue with a Curlew Sandpiper and mounted it multiple times, pulling at feathers.

However, it was the African Marsh Harrier that caused the greatest commotion. It came over twice. The first time sent ducks scattering in their hundreds. After the second visit it was pursued by angry Blacksmith Lapwings as it nonchalantly made its way across the estuary.

Ducks scatter as an African Marsh Harier appears.
Ducks scatter as an African Marsh Harier appears (Graeme Hatley)
A Little Stint attacks a Curlew Sandpiper.
A Little Stint showing a Curlew Sandpiper who’s boss! (Graeme Hatley)
A Grey-hood Gull chases down a Pied Kingfisher trying to steal its fish.
A Grey-headed Gull tries to steal lunch (Graeme Hatley)

As the evening cooled, fog rolled in from the Kleinmond side. The setting sun was softened and an orange glow backlit the waders to the right of the hide. Despite not getting to see the Pectoral Sandpiper, we both had an amazing afternoon out.

A Black-winged Stilt is silhouetted against the evening sunlight.
The close to the evening (Graeme Hatley)

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