Birding at Gifberg

A three night stay at the Gifberg Holiday Farm in the mountains south of Vanrhynsdorp, with the Hermanus Bird Club, allowed for some interesting birding and an enjoyable stay in this remote, but beautiful part of the Western Cape.  The accommodation is basic, but comfortable and the company was good.  Communal evening meals were delicious and a tribute to all the contributors.  We enjoyed some entertaining outings and saw a good number of birds – 107 species to be exact!


Orchid Hunting around Sedgefield

We have just returned from a four day outing to the area around Sedgefield where we went in search of Orchids.  This trip was precipitated by the devastating fires of last June in the area, as we were looking for species that are stimulated by fire.  A total of only nine species were found in a variety of coastal locations.  A new fire burnt a huge swathe of upland forest in the days just preceding our arrival and this fire was still smoldering during our visit, so we were somewhat restricted regarding forays into the mountain ranges backing the area.

Besides Orchids, we obviously saw many other species and we also had a very comfortable guesthouse and much fun was had by all.  We were allowed access into Westford Bridge and Featherbed Private Nature Reserves, a real bonus as both areas proved very interesting, especially with regard to the work that has been and still is being undertaken to restore these properties after the 2017 fires.  For the rest we made do with searches along roadsides, using prior knowledge where available.  It was a superb outing and we all relished the opportunity to see a new area and learn something about it’s flora.

Of course, we also saw some interesting birds, with the most notable being the Broad-billed Roller which was seen near Wilderness – a first for the Western Cape, as this lone specimen was way outside its normal range.  A pair of Crowned Eagles flying above Pine Lake was another special treat!

A Wild Day of Birding

The Hermanus Bird Club held it’s Mini Birding Big Day yesterday and 5 teams entered.  Unfortunately one team had to withdraw, and they, therefore, missed the windy birding conditions, as it was surely one of the worst days we could have picked in term of the weather.  There was a gale blowing!

Nevertheless those who participated had a good time, and made the most of the 12 hours allotted.  There is nothing like a common enemy (the wind!) to inspire people!  The winning team, ours, managed 125 species, which we thought was pretty good.  Next came 122, followed by 107 and 92.  For all those who took part, it was a good experience and an opportunity to learn more about local birds and their habitats.

Fernkloof Contour Path

Our walk this morning started with 12 people but three peeled off to do Lemoenkop, so nine of us carried on eastwards along the contour path.  It was very warm and we were pleased to be in shade for part of the time.  We did not go far, but completed two good hours of walking by the time we returned to the Visitors’ Centre.

A Walk to Vogel Pool

After last night’s gale, we were relieved to wake up to a calm and clear day today.  We were going to walk to Vogel Pool with Gilly, so were pleased with the change in the weather.  It was her first visit to Vogelgat and she obviously enjoyed the outing.  By the time we had ascended the zigzag path the wind returned, however, and that wasn’t a bad thing as it kept us cool in what turned out to be a pretty hot day!  The temperature was no less than 34 degrees Celsius when we got back to Base Camp!  I was certainly quite exhausted!

We managed to get a ‘lifer’ when we spotted the rare Paranomus sceptrum-gustavianus on the way down.  It was some distance off the path and down a steep slope, so I did not get a good shot of it.  We had no idea what it was, but luckily Giorgio identified it for us.

Vredehoek Farm Walk

Debby and Keith always put on such a good show at their beautiful wild flower farm, that a large turn-out is almost guaranteed.  Today was no exception.  No less than 23 Hurriers availed themselves of the opportunity to enjoy the good weather, beautiful fynbos and great hospitality!

We walked through the Protea plantations and saw the blooms being harvested for export.  What a sight!  Then we passed through a recently burnt area where the botanists could marvel at the new growth, before traversing through fynbos on the lower mountain slopes.  On arrival back at the cottage, we were amazed to find a super spread of goodies to eat and hot coffee.  It was a perfect ending to a perfect day!