By Bryan Butler

It was Saturday 16th March 2019 and we knew there would be parking problems – and it was worse than we expected.

Nonetheless, by 08h45 we were all parked and gathered at the ticket office of Intaka Island. All eleven of us. Beautiful day. Little or no wind. Perfect conditions to make the most of Intaka, and she didn’t disappoint, though the outer dams were empty dust-bowls.

We divided informally into two groups with one choosing the dustbowls and the other the bird hides and we met again around 10h00. We saw Blacksmith Lapwings and Karoo Prinia – they saw White-breasted Cormorants and African Darters – to start with!

As we have seen before there was a mist net set up and birds were being captured, analysed and released by a trained team of amateur (?) citizen scientists. Around 10h20 we received a call from the front desk – a boat would be ready for us at 10h30 so we scrambled back to the entrance and embarked on a very informative cruise.

Temba, our Captain, had many interesting stories to tell about the residents and the Corporations, – and the waterways. Back on dry land we all went towards the hides and had good birding opportunities.

In the one hide and just packing up was a small group of dedicated photographers with some of the biggest lenses I have ever seen! While we were talking to them a Purple Heron, which had been standing stock-still for ages, suddenly darted forward and pulled out a glistening, flat fish the size of a large man’s hand. One camera was quick enough to capture it – well done!!

The Darters and Cormorants were busy adding sticks to their nests and it was fascinating watching the flight-path they took to get to the nesting site, with all landing in exactly the same direction. (In the pic Sakkie Krynauw, Gareth Bain and Gail Sheen are watching the stick-carrying.)

In all we saw some 48 bird species – the most unusual of all was perhaps a Namaqua Dove, but the most dramatic – surely that Purple Heron and it’s catch of the day.