by Bryan Butler

We’ve had some challenging outings in the past but this is the first that I can remember which required us to wade across a river mouth (the Lourens River) right at the beginning.

Nothing daunted, some shed boots and socks, and some were wise enough to have brought wellington boots (though Sakkie’s left boot, he discovered, had a puncture). I settled for wet hiking boots and put up with feet sloshing around in cold water for rest of the morning.

This was our first official foray into the Strand Marine Reserve Territory – although Bas, our leader has walked it many times. It was also our first attempt at conducting a count.

It was cold, but it turned into quite a nice day and walking on the beach, with very few people around, was bracing. The beach was more pristine than we had expected, though plastic pollution was still occasionally present. Once over the river, there were no fishermen and no dogs. The dunes have a light coating of dune plants and this looks like a quiet haven for the birds which seek this kind of habitat. We saw Blacksmith Lapwings, African Oystercatchers and of course many Kelp Gulls, but also Hartlaub’s Gull, Rock Martin, White-fronted Plover and Cape and White-breasted Cormorants and flamingoes. Also in the dunes were Cape Robin, Karoo Prinia, and a pair of Pied Kingfisher right in the river mouth.

The walk to the far fence and back took about two hours and it was interesting at the turn-point to look into the back end of the Macassar water treatment plant. The return journey was into a sharp wind that we hadn’t noticed that much when we walked to the west.

The two relevant counts were:club members – 9. Birds 16. Not a high count but an important count. As Bas reported “If we count twice a year, then October and March might be better choices.” Agreed.