To the Dams

Our walk this morning took us to the Fernkloof dams.  The weather was lovely and warm with a slight berg wind keeping the temperature up.  The lower dam is quite low but the middle one was full to overflowing!   Sadly the path is in a very poor state so it was not very safe walking beyond the lower dam.

There are not many flowers in bloom, but the proteas are giving their usual Autumn show and we saw some beautiful blooms, not least the Waboom, or Protea nitida.  There were also some wonderful purple Gladiolus maculatus.

Walking in Fernkloof

Only 7 Hurriers showed up for this morning’s walk which went up Kanonkop and then back down via Adder’s Ladder.  Despite this, Renee and I managed to separate ourselves from the group, as we went off hunting for Orchids (wrong season, I know, but we had had a report of an out of season flowering Acrolophia ustulata) and we never got to the Kanonkop summit for tea!

The flowers were largely absent, but the weather was beautiful and clear and we all had a good bit of exercise!

De Bos Wetland Trail

De Bos has, through Frank Woodvine, developed a wetland trail through their farm in the Hemel en Aarde Valley.  Frank led us through this area this morning and we were all enthralled to see what he has done, developing paths and points of interest.  De Bos has also done a great deal of development for tourism, and there are picnic sites spread around the property , complementing the magnificent tasting room that was recently opened.

The wetland area abounds with fynbos birds and the potential for spring flowers was evident.  The area will be well worth visiting again in September.

More Images from our Birding in Botswana, Zimbabwe and RSA


May – A month of Birding. Part 7 – Johannesburg to Hermanus

It was strange getting back into our car and driving again, but we hit the road from Jhb on Sunday morning, so were able to travel out with little traffic.  Our destination was Kuilfontein near Colesburg, but we made a detour to the Willem Pretorius Reserve south of Kroonstad as we had some time to spare.  It was sad to see that he area has suffered neglect, but we nevertheless saw quite a few birds and some good game including Sable Antelope.

We had a comfortable night and a good meal at Kuilfontein.  In the morning we were greeted by the calls of the Blue Korhaan and were delighted to see a pair close by.

We traveled on to Cradock and the Mountain Zebra National Park.  This a beautiful area and the park is well stocked with a good variety of game.  We saw lions, many antelope and buck as well as some good birds.  Regretably, we never saw the elusive Melodious Lark, so that will have to wait for another time!  Early rising meant that we found our car covered in ice, and the temperature was close to zero, but luckily we had some sun to warm us up on our full day there.

We drove down the N10 from Cradock to Port Elizabeth and then on to Knysna.  It is a good road and not having been that way previously , we found the N10 very interesting.  After a night in Knysna with family, we returned home to Hermanus, havng spent exactly four weeks away and having seen no less than 359 bird species.  Not bad for a winter trip!

May – A month of Birding. Part 6 – Hwange to Johannesburg

We met a contact of Graham’s on the road down to Bulawayo.  He asked us if we would like to have a chat and a cup of coffee, and we were overwhelmed when he took us onto two farms owned by the Randell brothers.  We saw a very fine selection of habitats and birds and were then entertained to tea and then lunch by these very generous people, who live in the most beautiful homes.  It was a real pleasure to meet them!

We carried on through Bulawayo to our destination at the stunning Matobo Hills Lodge, surrounded by the wonderful granite domes and boulders of the Matobo National Park.  This proved to be a very good birding area – no specials, and therefore probably ignored by most birders, but what we saw was spectacular and the birds were abundant.  Our cottages were very comfortable and excellent food was served in the outdoor dining area.

After two nights we traveled south once more towards Louis Trichardt, stopping at the Hillside Dams and Gardens in Bulawayo.  This was another very good place to visit and is a worthwhile stop.  The border crossing at Beit Bridge proved relatively easy and we were soon at our overnight destination at Shiluvari Lodge on the banks of the Albasini dam.  We birded in the area that evening and the following morning, before heading back to Johannesburg, but with a final stop at Polokwane Reserve, where we sought and found the Short-clawed Lark.

Graham had once more proved to be a very good guide and host and he always kept us well fed and watered!  He has been leading birding expeditions in southern Africa for twenty years and his experience is put to good use, as he knows everything there is to know about the area and its fauna. He can be reached at ‘Reach Africa Birding’

To be continued ….


May – A month of Birding. Part 5 – Hwange National Park

From Vic Falls, it was a short run to Hwange National Park and we entered at the northern end near Sinamatela.  The once beautiful camp was deserted and in a totally neglected state.  We signed in there and then proceeded along some very poor tracks to our destination, Kapula Lodge.  This is small outfit comprising two camps, each of which has four tents and a central boma with lounge, dining area and kitchen.  We found it very comfortable with excellent staff, and the sort of solitude that makes for a wonderful stay.  We self-catered as we had done at Woodlands and Senyati, with Graham providing good meals with little apparent effort!

Kapula is in a private concession and we had good game drives and birding without seeing any other vehicles.  After two nights at Kapula we moved south and settled into Ganda Lodge, close to Main Camp and just outside the Park, however, the lack of any fence meant that we were still in the wilderness.  This was evident when we spotted a leopard at the camp waterhole and came across elephants on the track in to the camp. Whilst the camp is somewhat rustic and needs some maintenance, it was comfortable and the food was good.

We visited the adjacent portion of the Park and continued to see a good selection of wildlife. Graham won an afternoon competition in which we had to predict how many ellies we would see on our drive.  He said 44 and was spot on!  We had great sightings of Racket-tailed Rollers, doing their amazing aerial acrobatics, but photographing them proved difficult.

Hwange has been through a bad period and it was encouraging to see that things appear to be on the mend.  We did not see any Rhinos, as these have apparently all been moved from the Park in order to negate poaching.

To be continued ….