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Extravagant Beauty of Strandfontein

Monday, October 3, 2016

After awhile, all flamingo photos begin to look the same, I think as I edit. Ooh. This one's nice. And look at this one! This one's amazing! But at some point I must stop. 

If there is a more photogenic bird I haven't met it. Right out there dazzling me with every move. And in flight, well, I could spend a solid week shooting flying flamingos, never harm a feather, and come back with 10,000 photos easy. Whether swimming like odd, twiggy swans

listening to a drill sergeant only they can hear

or bursting into flight with tiny pink webbed feet splashing 

threatening to tread on each other as they go

reaching escape velocity

and finally taking to the air like flying umbrellas

flamingos, and the mountain backdrop at Strandfontein, enchant me.

 But there are other birds at Strandfontein. 

A gray-headed gull floats amongst the dancers

and a panoply of waterbirds (Cape teal, Hartlaub's gull and red-knobbed coot) makes for some fun sorting. One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just isn't the same.

Wait. How do you tell a flamingo from a coot again? Oh yeah. One has a white bill.

A little grebe floats in the serene ripples of psychedelia

a yellow-billed duck rockets over

 while greater crested terns, Hartlaub's gulls, white breasted and reed cormorants rest on a pier. 

A rufous-tailed scrub robin, thousands of miles off-course, thrills area twitchers

which bemused us. The bird looked pretty much like any other scrub-robin we'd seen, and since none of us ever see scrub-robins, whether the little thing as 7,000 km off course or not made no nevermind to us, but it was lots of fun to watch South African birders staking it out, talking about its habitat preferences, and even offering to flush it for us!

Scrub-robin is scratching its head, wondering what all the fuss is about. Wondering why five guys with scopes watch its every move. Now I'm going down into the grass. Now I'm hopping up. Now I'm cocking my tail. See how rufous it is! I'm a desert scrub-robin, lost at a sewage treatment facility. 

To be truthful, I was more thrilled with a great, close look at a reed cormorant in full breeding finery. That ruby eye! The polished gunmetal gray of its Sebright-bantam-spangled back! What a bird! and to think it simply looks black virtually every time you see it. Those who tout the virtues of "naked eye birding" are missing so much. You have to get up close to a reed cormorant to appreciate it. What a bee-yoo-tiful bird!!

and beneath our feet, flowers, and a painted lady!

To share it with fellow blossom-worshipping kneelers was so sweet.

 It was a magical morning at Strandfontein. 

And we took in sunset at Chapman's Peak, in awe at the majesty of these landforms, this light. 

A little boat cut the sunpath, and just as the sun disappeared it turned ever so briefly green, at least to my eye. Likely a trick of the afterimage, it was still a thrill, as was the whole day. 

Blessed and lucky, that's what we were. Are.

Wishing you sights undreamt of, and sunsets like this.


It brings back fond memories of our trip there this past April with Lawson's Tours. Thanks for all the fine images and memories, Julie!

Perhaps you saw what is called a green flash. It is a real phenomenon. How lucky for you! Thank you for sharing the incredible flamingo images. I especially love the pushme pullyou design in the inflight photos.

Posted by Anonymous October 7, 2016 at 8:27 AM
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