Walking in the Perdeberg

This morning we joined a well attended BotSoc walk along the beautiful Perdeberg Trail, in the Kogelberg Reserve. It was well worth it. We walked in lovely cool weather, having even encountered some rain on the way there. The Nivenia stokoei was in full bloom and this along with the thousands of Erica massonii presented an amazing spectacle. Of course there were many other species, and especially well represented were the Ericas.

We did not make it all the way to the lookout over Spook Nek, but still covered around nine kilometres, all of it in spectacular fynbos!

Coffee at the Summit and the Jeep Track

Ann asked us to accompany her and some friends up behind Kanonkop to see a Disa graminifolia, but we could not find it. It was unfortunate, but no train smash, as we had a wonderful walk, stopping for refreshments on the Summit, before setting out eastwards on the Jeep Track, through truly beautiful fynbos dominated by billions of Erica tenella flowers, and then down Adder’s Ladder and back to the Visitors’ Centre. It was like walking through a well-tended garden!

The weather was perfect for walking , being cool and breezy. We could not have asked for more, and we were not alone. The mountain was full of hikers enjoying the day out!

Disas at Pig’s Snout

This morning’s walk to Pig’s Snout with John and Carol took place in overcast and slightly damp conditions. We were in search of the February flowering Disa uniflora, and we were not disappointed. When we arrived at the pool at the base of the western waterfall, we were greeted with the remarkable sighting of around sixty disa flowers spread over the cliff face! Sadly, I did not have a telephoto lens with me so am unable to reproduce this sight, but we relished in the beauty of the place, and returned home well pleased with our walk!

A Walk to Sopiesklip

Beautiful weather and a good low tide made for a most enjoyable walk to Sopiesklip this morning. Sopiesklip is a rock outcrop half way from Hermanus to De Kelders and a favourite roosting spot for African Black Oystercatchers. The 12.5 km walk took around two and a half hours.

We were very pleased to come across a group of around 12 people working their way along the high water line picking up plastic nurdles. This made our day, as the nurdles are a scourge on the beaches and in the sea, and it is good to see that the Government has a plan afoot to try to eradicate them; but what a job, as each nurdle is only about three milimetres across!

In Search of the Red Disa

A couple of years ago we were lucky to see a wonderful display of Disa uniflora at Fault Falls in the Vogelgat Reserve, so we thought, “Its February; we should go and see them again.”

Sadly, they do not appear to be doing anything this year, as there was no sign of them. Perhaps it has been too dry. What we did see, however, was a great display of March Lilies (Amaryllis belladonna) at the start of the trail.

Guineafowl in my Garden

Three adult Helmeted Guineafowl and their fifteen young chicks are frequent visitors to our garden in Prestwick Village. There were originally 21 little chicks, but many succumb to various predators and it is unlikely that most will survive. Amongst them is a very small white chick, obviously the runt of the litter and it has a hard time keeping up and getting food amongst all its stronger siblings.

Walking on the Hermanus Golf Course

Most mornings find us going for a brisk walk around the Golf course. Of course, we are privileged to be able to do this – it is one of the perks of living in the Fernkloof Golf Estate. We normally set off at around 6 a.m. as we are not allowed to interfere with the golfers. Needless to say we are often alone at this time – except for the wildlife!

As we leave home we hear the Speckled Pigeons cooing and billing on the rooftops. We could do without them, but there have every right to be here. Of course, there are also Laughing and Red-eyed Doves. Perhaps a Cape Wagtail or two are on our lawn, strutting around looking for insects in the grass. As we leave Prestwick Village, we normally see the resident herd of Springbok, comprising around 75 of these graceful animals. Mostly they are just grazing, but there are always a few practicing their fighting skills and we hear the clatter of their horns as they engage with each other. They are becoming ever more habituated to man and machinery and they do not run off when they see us.

Helmeted Guineafowl are wandering around in small groups, cawing harshly or making little ‘come hither’ noises to attract their many chicks. The same goes for the Cape Spurfowl. Both species start off with broods of up to a dozen tiny chicks, but they are soon reduced to one or two, as cats and other predators see them off.

Suddenly we are startled by a loud hissing as a male Spotted Thick-knee rushes at us in order to defend his mate, as she sits on her eggs right out in the open, next to our path! We survive the onslaught and walk on, as Common Starlings fly around in noisy flocks.

Near the clubhouse, we pass the water feature, where Common Moorhens are often out on the grassy banks, whilst a Grey Heron sits on a rock surveying his surroundings. Southern Fiscals are out everywhere looking for prey and we sometimes see them attacking Cape Sparrows. As we pass the wetlands on the west of the course, we see many Cape Sugarbirds sitting on the tops of shrubs comparing notes and discussing their plans for the day. Occasionally the morning air is filled with the haunting sound of a Burchell’s Coucal.

Further on, as we walk past the houses adjacent to the 17th hole, we see the odd domestic cat hunting in the undergrowth. They flee when they see us, as they know they are not popular with birders! Above us, the cry of a Diederik Cuckoo is heard as he calls for his mate, whilst further on we hear the shrill cry of the Jackal Buzzard.

Yellow-billed Ducks move quietly along the water in the many ponds, whilst, lurking in the wetland vegetation are Little Rush Warblers, with their rasping call. We seldom see them, but their cry is unmistakable. All the while, there are Egyptian Geese waddling along on the fairways or honking as they fly overhead. Perhaps they are competing with the many Hadeda Ibises, whose calls originally awoke us!

As we walk above the 6th fairway, we are close to the mountain and we hear the Cape Grassbirds calling in the fynbos. There are also Sunbirds to be seen, both Southern Double-collared and Orange-breasted. Cape Weavers are flitting around in the vegetation chasing insects, or noisily calling as they build their nests. Groups of Speckled Mousebirds move from shrub to shrub, or hang from small branches in their peculiar and precarious manner. If we go through the gardens at Lakewood Village, we are often surprised by the water birds on the lake. These include Black Crake, African Darter, Yellow-billed Ducks and domestic Muscovy Ducks.

By now the Bokmakeries are out and about, amazing all with their beautiful melodious calls. Greater Striped Swallows and occasional White-rumped Swifts carve their way through the air above our heads as they chase insects. Suddenly, we are back in Prestwick Village and as we round the corner, we hear and see a pair of Olive Thrushes in the undergrowth.

It has been another glorious morning walk and we realise how blessed we are to be living here and healthy enough to walk! We can relax at home and enjoy the garden birds. Yesterday we saw an Amethyst Sunbird and a pair of Swee Waxbills – what a pleasure!

The Oudebosch to Harold Porter Trail

In these Covid restricted times it was a real pleasure to join all of our Cape Town based family for a good hike this morning. We chose to do the walk over the mountain to Harold Porter, however, the Harold Porter section was closed so we walked up to the stream that forms Leopard Gorge and then turned back. Luckily we saw another group at this stream, so when they left we decided to investigate and found a really great swimming hole, allowing all the boys a chance to cool off in the refreshing pool.

The walk itself, was beautiful, although we felt the heat and humidity on the way up. The forest sections provided very welcome relief, with their cool shade and mossy rock and log coverings. Forest birds encountered included Dusky and Paradise Flycatchers, Sombre Greenbuls and Cape Robin, whilst the Fynbos yielded Yellow Bishop, Cape Grassbird, Victorin’s Warbler, Familiar Chat, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Rock Martin, White-necked Raven and Red-winged Starlings. We had hoped to see some woodpeckers and Rockjumpers, but were not in luck.

Cape Nature has introduced some funny walking times, so there were many people there when we set out at 9 am, however most of them did not use our path, so we were not hassled by them. The Kogelberg Reserve is a great place to get away from the stress many are feeling and we certainly enjoyed the outing immensely