Rocherpan is a relatively small reserve (1080 hectares), a slice of land sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and a fairly busy road, but the combination of ecosystems – a seasonal pan/wetlands, marine/beach environment and strandveld vegetation – offers a variety of bird habitats. More than 183 bird species can be found here, including 70 waterbirds. A full bird list is available on the CapeNature website or at the reserve’s reception. In the three days we spent in the sanctuary, even as birding novices we managed to see and identify approximately 60 species relatively easily.
The pan is obviously the main feature of the reserve and there are three bird hides where you can while away the hours watching water birds and waders. Greater and Lesser flamingoes, Kelp, Grey-headed and Hartlaub’s gulls, Avocets, Black-winged Stilts, cormorants, ducks and geese in great numbers bathed, fed, slept and squabbled in front of the hide. Caspian and Swift terns settled among the gulls, while Kittlitz’s, Three-banded and White-fronted plovers and sandpipers worked their way along the pan’s shoreline. African Oystercatchers were ever-present, sometimes in pairs, but often in small groups. Rocherpan is one of the Cape Shoveler’s most important breeding sites and we were glad to see a pair drifting along on the water.
Just alongside the bird hide, Cape and Southern Masked weavers and Southern Red Bishops kept up a continuous chorus in the reeds. An older, unused bird hide further down the pan seems to have been appropriated by a Rock Kestrel as a base for its hunting missions.
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Canon’s R6 and R5 camera bodies
FORCE of nature
During the past five or so years, Cape-based photographer Peter Chadwick has focused his conservation work on supporting counter-poaching efforts, developing conservation and re-introduction strategies for high-risk and endangered species and cultivating marine and terrestrial conservation teams. While doing this work throughout the African continent and the Western Indian Ocean, Peter has used his conservation photojournalism to raise awareness and garner support for the various causes he works on. A multiaward-winning cameraman, he is a Senior Fellow and Executive Member of the International League of Conservation Photographers.
Coral trees (Erythrina species) are found in tropical and subtropical areas around the world, including in southern Africa where nine species occur.
proudly SOUTH AFRICAN
Founded in February 2020, the South Africa Listers’ Club is a community of birders who have recorded 300 or more species within the borders of South Africa. As a protector of the country’s birds, BirdLife South Africa is enthusiastic about encouraging a #ProudlySouthAfrican approach to birding.
Accipiters and Cape Buzzards breeding on the Cape Peninsula
The Magic Beaks Of Stone Birds
Discovering an ancient avian superpower
Hidden Treasure Verreaux's Eagle-Owl
Despite being the largest owl species in the region and sporting characteristic bright pink eyelids, Verreaux’s Eagle-Owls Bubo lacteus can be surprisingly difficult to find in the wild. It was a colleague of mine, Callum Evans, who first pointed out an eagle-owl nest to me on 1 August 2020 in Mawana Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal. I had seen an adult and a sub-adult in the vicinity a few days before and had thought there might be a nest somewhere, but I hadn’t been able to locate it.
What's In A Name?
Introducing the Blue-billed Teal and Fynbos Buttonquail
The Place Of Wonder
Birding in iSimangaliso Wetland Park and St Lucia
Madagascar What's So Special?
A typical person knows nothing about Madagascar beyond an awareness of the animated movies of that name and a resulting conviction that the country gives refuge to penguins. Africans do slightly better.