Friday 2 September 2016

Namibia - the coast

Namibia has a pretty large coast, but like many tourists I stuck with the specific area around Walvis Bay and Swakopmund for a couple of days - before venturing north a bit to Henties Bay and then heading off inland...

Anyway, August is wintertime and though there were still tens of thousands of birds (mostly flamingos!), the famous salt pans at Walvis Bay were comparatively quiet - still, with White-fronted and Chestnut-banded Plovers in good numbers as well as a couple of Red-necked Phalaropes and Curlew Sandpipers, it wasn't all that bad!
White-fronted Plover Walvis Bay
Chestnut-banded Plover Walvis Bay
Not to mention retina burning action wherever you looked - the place teeming with Lesser and Greater Flamingos, as well as White Pelicans and a whole whack of Crested Terns.
Lesser Flamingo Walvis Bay
Greater Flamingo Walvis Bay
The key species to locate here is Damara Tern. And a month or so later this would have been extremely easy. However, with the majority of the population moving north in winter, it took me until the second day to locate two birds feeding off the promenade in Walvis Bay. Nice diminutive things with a dagger like bill - I did see plenty of signs warning people of their colonies and not to stray off the tracks, which was obviously a decent thing (despite the lack of birds!).
White Pelican Walvis Bay
Cape Cormorant Walvis Bay
Karen is a sucker for a boat trip on a holiday, so this was the only place to cram one in - and like many trip reports I'd read we plummeted for a real dudey one where the boatman had his Cape Fur Seal that he hand fed and some bow riding Heaviside's Dolphins. While eating a load of oysters and champagne (that's how I roll), I looked out and noticed a load of nice stuff including a couple of White-chinned Petrels, several Cape Gannets as well as Crowned Cormorant, African Black Oystercatcher and the only Grey-headed Gulls of the trip (the latter three species seen while the punters enjoyed the seal colony).
copious numbers of Cape Fur Seals Walvis Bay
Cape Gannet Walvis Bay
Obviously, there were a few larks about - managed to locate Gray's Lark in the stony desert east of Swakopmund salt pans and this Red-capped Lark was an enjoyable roadside bird.
Red-capped Lark between Walvis Bay and Swakopmund
We stayed in Swakopmund, and in the place we were staying, this vocal Southern Masked Weaver was busily tending to its nest.
Southern Masked Weaver Swakopmund
However, and I'm sure regular readers know this already, there was a good reason for me to visit Namibia. Hartlaub's Gull - a gull tick, nice and common too all along the coast. They didn't even need bread to be enticed but of course it helped...

1st-winter Hartlaub's Gulls
And the Kelp Gulls were superb and monstrous too!
adult Kelp Gull
1st-winter Kelp Gulls
So with our coastal jaunt completed, it was off back into the desert to see some cave art in Damaraland. And of course some more decent birding and mammals.