Walking around the golf course this morning was a cold and wet affair as there was thick mist everywhere. Later we thought it had cleared up but it is back and it seems we will soon have to light a fire to keep warm. Quite a change after the three or four days of Indian Summer!
Nine Hurriers reported for the hike along the contour path. We covered nine kilometres in perfect weather and enjoyed spectacular views across Voelklip to the ocean beyond. We even saw a large disturbance at sea where we could just make out a huge school of dolphins, obviously making the most of large shoal of sardines or pilchards. The dark line in the sea in the image below is the disturbed water caused by the dolphins.
Yesterday’s ‘berg wind’ conditions meant that our walk along the Voelklip contour path was well chosen, as we were able to walk in the shade for most of the time. This was a real blessing as the temperature rose to around 27 degrees – pretty warm for the middle of winter!
The path has been recently cleared, so it was easy to see where to place one’s feet, and the views were stunning! We did not go all the way to Vogelgat, but turned round after 4.5 km, for a total of 9 km in all.
We started our birding trip with a visit to Rooi Els in the hope of seeing the local specials, and boy, we were not disappointed! We immediately saw Cape Rock Thrush and then a great sighting of Sentinal Rock Thrush. Of course, there were the usual Orange-breasted Sunbirds and Cape Buntings, and then we suddenly saw a Cape Rockjumper in the distance. Further searching revealed a few more and they were quite engaging and did not mind coming closer. A juvenile even came out onto the track near to us and approached to within a metre or two!
We thought we had seen everything, but then came the Ground Woodpeckers and we saw around three of them hopping about in the middle distance. It was a wonderful start to our day, and we set out for the Harold Porter Gardens feeling quite buoyed up.
At Harold Porter we had our tea in the car park and then started our walk. Things only got interesting as we entered the section up towards the waterfall. Here we saw an African Black Duck, and then Dusky Flycatchers and Cape Batis. Then, lo and behold, a Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher came and displayed in the branches above us! What a great sighting!! On the way out we had good interaction with a flock of Swee Waxbills, rounding off a wonderful morning, during which we recorded only 30 species, but the specials made it very worthwhile.
This morning six of us set out from the Visitors’ Centre for a walk around the Jeep Track. First off came the climb up Adder’s Ladder – all in the cool early morning shade – so we were glad to come out into some sunshine at the top. Next came the trek along the Jeep Track towards the Vogelgat fence, with a stop along the way for tea and to search for winter orchids (we were not successful).
This section was fruitful from a birding perspective as we put up a Hottentot Buttonquail – a very exciting bird to see! Later we heard the unique call of the Victorin’s Warbler and there they were – about four of them close to the path and in full voice. We saw them a couple of times, quite clearly, as they flitted through to fynbos undergrowth.
The views all along the way were spectacular and we could see what looked like a fishball in the sea – later a boat was seen in it, so perhaps there really was something there!
Then on the way down towards the ZigZag, we spotted a couple of White-necked Ravens. They were not so special, but they were pestering a Verreaux’s Eagle that was sitting below us, and we really had a great sighting until it flew off, revealing its true colours. This was very special, as we rarely see Verreaux’s Eagles in this part of the Reserve. Liz managed to get a couple of photographs and I include one here.
Our walk this morning in Fernkloof took us up the steep Droekloof path, before joining up with the end of the Jeep Track, and then descending via the ZigZag to the Contour path and back to our starting point in Reservoir road. We had perfect weather, but the steep slope nevertheless took its toll and we were reduced to four walkers.
It was nice to see the three dams full and overflowing, however, the path was showing distinct signs of erosion and could become a donga if the strong rains persist. Path maintenance is always a problem and bad soil erosion looks imminent!
I have now measured 213 mm of rain for May and it is still falling. We had some really heavy showers in the night and when I looked out at the golf course this morning this is what greeted me!
Our walk this morning to Galpin Hut and back was wonderful. It was so exhilarating to be on the mountain and enjoying the calm cool conditions. Not only that, but the fynbos was, as usual, looking wonderful. We saw great examples of Protea speciosa and P. cynaroides.
Our walk took us up Adder’s Ladder and then past White Rock to Galpin, before returning on the south side of the peak, a total of around 10 kilometres. We were greeted at Galpin by a Klipspringer standing right outside the hut. All the streams were in spate and we were able to slake our thirst with the fresh cold water!
This morning on the golf course, during our daily walk, the sunrise once again came up to scratch!
We celebrated our 54th wedding anniversary today. Renee pulled out an old album and we were quite shocked to see how we have aged! But the real issue is that we have enjoyed every moment of it and look forward to much more time together!