by Bryan Butler

8 o’clock in the morning, 15th June, and the temperature is recorded as 1°C but the air is clear and there is no wind. Fourteen of us head off to Macassar Water Treatment Works.

On the bridge over the Eerste River we meet with John Magner bringing us up to 15. We can hear a Bokmakierie and then a Southern Boubou. Overhead a White-necked Raven and mate pierce the bright blue sky.

We spend some time on the bridge. KarooPrinia, Common Fiscal, and calls we can’t identify.

Eventually, it’s on to the pans themselves. Here immediately we see Black-winged Stilts (Rooipootelsie – such a better description), Cape Teal, Sacred Ibis and the inevitable Yellow-billed Duck. Bearing in mind the potential dangers, some of the group walk to the next pan and then on to the area overlooking the beach.

White-breasted Cormorants in abundance – and a pair of African Black Oystercatchers (another memorable Afrikaans name – Swarttobie). A couple of Water Thick-knees break cover and fly some distance away, disappearing into the brush without a trace.

Back to the vehicles and on to the view over the river where we are able to identify three-ringed Plovers, Black-headed Heron – and enjoy a welcome coffee break!

With a bird count approaching 30 the decision is taken to move on the Paardevlei, with the possibility of seeing Greater Flamingoes –and even the Goliath Heron. The surface of Paardevlei is a mass of waterfowl. Red-knobbed Coots, Little Grebe, scattered Greater Flamingoes and round the vlei edges Cape Weaver, Levaillant’s Cisticola and, in the trees behind, Fork-tailed Drongos in an intricate aerial battle.

Suddenly 4 hours have passed and there are murmurs of content – a good morning’s birding in the middle of winter. No Goliath Heron, true, but no wind, no rain, rapidly rising mercury and good companionship, That’s a good day’s outing. More please.