About a week ago, I was looking out the window at the ocean. All of a sudden, I saw a large flock of birds fly by. They were flying over the ocean, very low. It looked as if they could almost touch the water if the dipped their wing to the left or the right. I thought that this large band of birds was very amazing but then, there was another flock flying by and another and another. I had never, ever seen anything like it in my whole life! I ran and got my camera so I would have pictures to support what I am trying to explain.
I had to know more so hopped on my bike and rode out to the end of the jetty, close to where they were flying by. By the time I got out there, the masses had flown by. Fortunately, there was a gentleman sitting there and he was able to tell me that they were cormorants. This happened again, later in the week and I was able to get out to the jetty in time to watch the hundreds of them fly by. It was like watching art being created. They flew close together, low to the water and as the waves swelled, they would uplift just enough to follow the motion of the wave. Their flight reminded me of ribbon that a rhythmic gymnast uses in her routine. The birds were the ribbons floating through the air and the waves were the gymnast doing the twirling and dancing.
The birds were heading south towards Walvis Bay which, according to the South African Birding website, is the most important coastal wetland in South Africa. It is the feeding ground for up to 250,000 birds of 50 species. Walvis Bay wetland has been declared a Ramsar site and is protected by the intergovernmental treaty which supports the conservation and use of wetlands throughout the world. The Ramsar Convention was initially held in Ramsar, Iran in February of 1971. Initially, there were 7 countries. Today, there are close to 169 contracting parties with over 2000 sites in the world covering close to 490,000,000 acres (200,000,000 hectares). My hat is off to the people who had the foresight to protect the valuable wetlands for the birds.
In my last post, I share a photo of flamingos that we saw at the lagoon in Walvis Bay. In my research, I discovered that this area is considered one of the best sites in the world to view flamingos! It is the nearby salt pans that contribute to the pinkish color of the flamingos. Halobacteria is red in color and is found in the blue green algae that grows in the salt pans. The flamingos feed on the algae, which contains the halobacteria that turns the feathers pinkish-red. There are herons around Swakopmund, too. I think they might be grey herons. Often, when I am out for my power walk along the ocean, I will see a couple of them on the beach. Of course, I wish at that time, I had my camera to take a picture but normally, I try not to carry anything when I am exercising. I did happen to get this picture of them roosting on the “cell tower disguised as a palm tree” the other day.
These little birdies are waiting for me when I come out for my morning coffee to start the day. They will be sitting on the railing of our balcony chirping as if they are saying “good morning, it is time to feed us!” It is a great way to wake up and start the day! There is a flock of guineas hens that run all over Swakopmund. I call them the “ambassadors” for the city because you never quite know where you are going to see them. The first time I saw them, they were in front of the Municipal Court building.
I have seen them in the park down the street and lined up on the wall near a local cafe. Often, they are either in the yard of the condo complex across the street or on the side lawn of our condo complex. About 7:00 AM, they start to cross the street between the two condo buildings….I will hear their clucking from my bedroom. If they are in the road when a car approaches, the driver usually toots their horn. It is like having an alarm for 7:00 AM! The taxi drivers are the worse….they lay on their horns or toot excessively to get the hens out of the road. They seem to have no patiences and it can be a tad annoying so early in the morning!
The sunsets are like having a new piece of art in our living room every evening. David and I try to catch every sunset together when he is in Swakopmund and not spending the night at the mine. Sometimes, we make it an official “sundowner” – as the Africans call it, and watch the sun setting with an adult beverage. I have taken so many photos of the sunsets and when I do, I think, “OK, this is the last photo that I will take as you can only have so many of sunsets!” Then, it is another day and the sunset is unlike anything I have seen….so, out comes the camera. The evenings when the fog is just hanging in the horizon adds the most drama. Here are some of my favorite sunsets –
A couple of times, I have seen a flock of either flamingos or herons flying by as the sun is setting. Unfortunately, the camera was out of reach. For now, it is a memory but hopefully, I will be able to share a photo of that with you one day.