22 September 2011 by Julienne du Toit

Mouth of the Mother River

The meeting of a river and the sea is a beautiful place.

Few more so than where the Mother River, the Orange, meets the Atlantic.

The last time I was there, at sunrise, we saw hundreds of lesser and greater flamingoes, their pink colour even more intense with the sweet dawn light on their wings.

Then dapper, neatly dressed pied avocets with their demurely upturned bills wading elegantly in the shadows alongside pink-billed teals, the gangly flamingoes, the intense herons. Greater egrets with their plumed heads, like heraldic emblems. A curlew sandpiper busily patrolling the shallows.

We struggled through heavy dark sand, the lagoons of the Orange River mouth on the right, and the salty cream breakers of the stormy Atlantic breaking on our right.

Kelp gulls like wide boys in city suits gaze philosophically over their silly crimson and yellow bills at the grey sea, as if psyching themselves to go out.

Everywhere we stopped there were small, neat, doggy jackal spoor and the odd pinkish flamingo feather. The pelicans left enormous tracks, like a pterodactyls.

We saw a pelican, but it flew off before we could photograph it. Often there are up to 15 standing in the river mouth, opening their satchel bills wide and fishing cooperatively at high tide, as the fish flow into the less saline estuary.

The river seemed in a rush to get out to sea. It was 50 metres across, the water channel, and on the other side was Namibia. It looked so easy to cross.

Little coloured pebbles lined the shore - jasper, amethyst, quartz, olivine, all companion stones to the diamonds that were once so common here. I became so engrossed looking for pretty stones we were nearly caught by a wave hitching a ride on the incoming tide.

Category: Wildlife

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