Birds of the Orange River Estuary and Surrounding Area
This 92-page booklet has information about the history of human occupation at the Orange River estuary, the area's geography, climate, vegetation, and mammals. The bulk of the booklet however describes the history of the ornithological work that has been undertaken at the estuary, changes in bird populations during the past few decades, and it includes a very comprehensive annotated species list.
The Orange River estuary is one of the most far-away places in southern Africa, situated at the corner of South Africa and Namibia, at the place where the mighty Orange River flows into the Atlantic Ocean, and straddled by two mining towns, Alexander Bay and Oranjemund. The importance of this wetland for waterbirds was recognized in the early-1980s and it was subsequently designated as a Ramsar site, the only such site in the Northern Cape, and one of few in the world which cross an international boundary. At times the wetland supports more than 20,000 waterbirds, with almost 5000 terns being counted during a survey in February 2006.
Although the estuary was previously a closed mining area, it is now easily accessible via Alexander Bay. Many ecotourists visiting Namaqualand, Port Nolloth, and the Richtersveld stop by at the estuary. Some are keen to see the interesting birds present at this wetland, while others are merely interested in standing at the corner of South Africa and viewing the place where the Orange River meets the sea. Interesting birds present at the estuary and surrounding area include Damara Tern, Chestnut-banded Plover, Great White Pelican, Peregrine Falcon, Barlow's Lark, and Karoo Eremomela. Being one of few wetlands in a very arid area, the Orange River estuary attracts many vagrant birds (such as Lesser Sand Plover and Franklin's Gull). The details of the observations of all vagrant birds are documented in detail in the booklet.
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