by John Magner

The outing was attended by fourteen members of the club in perfect weather conditions on 17th February. It was a little cool first thing but warmed up later, no wind and not too hot, perfect!
After signing in at the gate, driving towards the works we were treated to an aerial display by two Rock Kestrels who were having a dispute over territorial rights, a great sight! Another sighting before we got to the gate was a Jackal Buzzard perched on an earth mound feeding on his latest catch.
As we entered the works we discovered that Tygerberg Bird Club were also visiting that morning, however after a brief chat we moved on to the information centre in which is located in the centre of the pans which was our starting and ending point for the drive around the pans.
At the information centre we were greeted by the three Water Thick-knees that are permanent residents at the centre. Looking over the small section of P6 behind the centre among the ducks and coots were a number of Hottentot Teal (about 14).
We proceeded to drive slowly around the perimeter of pan P2 (see map) we had nice views of an African Marsh Harrier which obligingly flew straight towards us.
The water situation in the pans is dire as it is everywhere, however wherever there is water there are birds. On P2 we found Great White Pelicans, a large number of Greater and Lesser Flamingo’s, a few Swift Terns and many hundreds of Kelp Gulls and Sacred Ibis. We also found a small number of South African Shelduck and two White Storks on this pan amongst other waterfowl.
On the corner pan of P3 there were some small waders, including Three-banded and Kitlitz Plovers, and a lone Common Sandpiper. Nearby on the corner pan of P5 there were a group of Ruff working around the bank to add to our list.
From here we drove between the pans S6 and S8 towards the sea looking for African Oystercatchers, without success; however we did find a very obliging Wood Sandpiper.
Returning to the information centre via pan P4 for our tea we stopped at the lookout platform and amongst the many Avocets and Flamingo’s we found more South African Shelduck and a number of Caspian Terns
Joining our friends the Water Dikkop’s (old name!) we made a list of 68 species for the morning, a pleasant outing enjoyed by all!