Does this wading stilt know what is real and what is an illusion as he hunts for small frogs, insect larvae, molluscs and shellfish? The river flows restlessly behind his island, but there is hardly a ripple in the soft blue mirror in front. Around him, inter-tidal mudflats and salt marshes, some parts murky and others shining like metal!
"Stilt" is surely the best name for Himantopus himantopus, or as he is called in Afrikaans: "Rooipoot-elsie". Using his long stilt-like legs he can wade in different depths of water up to his so-called knees and never needs to swim. In flight these long legs extend well beyond the tail.
There is a wonderful atmospheric bird hide on the Berg River estuary at Velddrif and more than 200 species can be viewed here. Besides the black-winged stilts there are amazing spoonbills, pelicans, flamingos, moorhens, Caspian terns and kingfisher. I always visit places on midday, thus I only saw flamingos in the distance resting under the bridge. A week later Liz photographed swarms of them at sunrise, so visit her blog to see more of our lovely river!
Something I love but do not understand is how migrating birds, dolphins, swimming birds, etc can do synchronized movements. Music in their heads, maybe? In my photo two egrets, "Tweedledum and Tweedledee" I shall call them, feed close to the bird hide, totally synchronised!