Snowy Sheathbill in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province

  • 7
    Shares


Is this the ? Take me home,

please

…!

If there’s anything more stressful or tedious than a domestic flight, generally, then it has to be a domestic flight to the Eastern Cape, specifically. The hour’s flying time has unwary visitors buffeting in the 20 knot ‘onshore breeze’ well before most succeed in wrestling their seat-belt from under the frame-hugging buttocks of the unwashed behemoth in the adjacent seat. Squawking toddlers, wielding saliva-encrusted plasticrattlers& routinely allocated the seat behind, play whack-the-bald spot,a rather miserable game for the receiving passenger in front.. This & teeth-decaying flatulence from the aforementioned behemothtends to abrogate from the majestic mountains of the Drakensberg seen from the window-seat’sporthole of hopeas the plane heads south.

Vegetation, trees especially, are aslaid backas the local people, a function of the prevailing ‘onshore breeze’ (ie: gale) rather than by design or attitude. Seasoned travelers to the Eastern Cape’sBuffalo City( & surrounds) observe, wistfully, thedepartures’ loungeon their way out to rentals from thearrivals-hall..

A suspension bridge joins the island to the ‘mainland’

Occasionally circumstance negates free-will and obligation dictates action. A Greater (Snowy) Sheathbill, an ‘assisted’ vagrant to these shores, was recently reported from the Eastern Cape’s ; a fishing hamlet a ‘short drive’ [30 minutes byconcorde] away from the aptly namedHole-in-the-wall,another fishing hamlet. In the Eastern Cape a ‘short drive’ is anything closer than theHubble Telescope,the taxman’s pineapple spy way up in the sky.. Ask aSlummies(East London) inhabitant for directions to Mazeppa Bay & you’ll be told it’s in the ‘Kye’ (Kei) a ‘short drive’ away. Don’t ask.

G. Sheathbill – Mazeppa Island ‘Point’ June 2013

A common inhabitant of the Antarctic most, if not all, Sheathbills are considered ship-assisted vagrants to these shores. Sheathbills, incidentally, are not adverse to feeding on faeces or droppings, an unusual characteristic of the avian world. For its curious nature, only amother-can-love-it looksand the fact that we hadn’t seen the Sheathbill in the sub-region before, Alisha & I boarded Sunday’s 6 am. flight to East London. From there we drove the 3 hour / 190 odd kilometers ‘miss-the-angora goat’ obstacle course up-coast to Mazeppa Bay. Road conditions were interesting..

G. Sheathbill – Mazeppa Bay ‘Boiling Pot’ June 2013

Mazeppa Bay itself, a mecca for shore-fishermen, is defined by its hotel, wild seas and rugged coastline. Follow the boat-launch path down to the shoreline, cross the suspension bridge to the island & Bob’s probably your uncle, that’s all there is to it. Hopelessly lost, yet completely at ease & showing no signs of distress, the Sheathbill permitted excellent views. Later we were accompanied by fishermen, holidaymakers & a horde of local kids who joined us as we leopard-crawled over hill & dale in pursuit of ‘the shot’.

The ‘Supermoon’ – a welcome sight as we threaded through the traffic, home.

We returned home later thatarvie(afternoon) on the 6 pm flight, battered by thebuster(strong wind) & a littlekussed out(tired) from our trip to theKye. Awesome.

Mark Kirk

Mark Kirk

Mark & Alisha Kirk are committed amateur naturalists with a specific interest in Southern Africa's birds. Mark, an attorney by training, has spent the better part of his professional career in the financial services industry. He is the Chairman of a leading Family Office. Alisha, an accountant by training, is a senior manager at Africa's largest travel company. They live in Johannesburg with their three children. This calendar year Mark & Alisha are attempting to see 800 bird species and more in the Southern Africa region. Their blog documents the adventure.

close
Vanished - Megascops Choliba by Jose Garcia Allievi

Discover hidden wildlife with our FREE newsletters

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Mark Kirk

Mark Kirk

Mark & Alisha Kirk are outdoor enthusiasts & amateur naturalists with a specific interest in Southern Africa's birds. Mark, an attorney by training, has spent the better part of his professional career in the financial services industry. He is the Chairman of a leading Family Office. Alisha, an accountant by training, is a senior manager at Africa's largest travel company. They live in Johannesburg with their three children. This calendar year Mark & Alisha are attempting to see 800 bird species and more in the Southern Africa region. Their blog documents the adventure.

Share this post with your friends

  • 7
    Shares


Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
avatar