Swakop River's 2009 flooding

The exitment around here for the last week or so has been our rivers. In Namibia all the rivers between the northern border and southern border are dry river beds. The rivers flow most years at least a little, but it's once in years, or even once in decades that the rivers actually reach the ocean.

At the coast we have two rivers in the vicinity of Swakopmund and Walvis Bay. The Kuiseb is just south of Walvis Bay, and it has nearly flooded into the lagoon. The Swakop river is here, just south of Swakopmund. Swakopmund's name comes from this river, the 'mund' being 'mouth.'

For us as birders there are aditional reasons for the interest. The river flows through the little wetland at the river mouth. Basically it's a bit like pressing a reset button. The whole system gets flushed out, and a somewhat new wetland is created. It all depends on how much water comes down and with how much power. This year it also depends on the human impact, digging trenches to encourage the river to flow out to the ocean.

We watched and watched. Everyone kept talking about the river coming down. It hasn't had a good flood into the Atlantic since 2000, so you can imagine that it's a big deal.

On Friday I went down with my boys. They had cut a long channel in the river bed. I am not too sure that it is a good thing. Anyway, the paper had said the river had already flowed, but when we were there, it certainly hadn't.

The man in the photograph is Dr. Hu Berry, a rather well known conservationist and guide in Namibia. Read more about him here. Him and his wife were also there to check it out when we got down there.

Dr. Hu Berry walking in the Swakop River

Hu walking down the channel cut for the river on Friday

Bird tracks in the Swakop River clay

The river made it to the ocean later. It was fun walking around there the next day. The river had already dropped and clay was left where the river had flooded at it's highest. Full of bird's tracks.

Flamings in the Swakop River Mouth

The birds had changed remarkably little at a casual glance. I will, of course, be watching each day.

People play in the Swakop River as it flows into the Atlantic

Everyone comes out to check it out, and the kids, including mine, have a good time in the river.

The ocean has washed very high over the last couple of days, and there were some images in the newspapers. I haven't been back to the river mouth, but will try to pop down tomorrow. It may be, if the river flooded so high, that salt water went into the small wetland at the mouth. I am not sure how significant this will be environmentally.

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