The September Bird Club outing to Gifberg followed immediately after our Namaqualand flower experience and we met the other 19 members of the group at the farm on Tuesday 6th September. There were times when we wondered if we were on the right road as it became ever narrower and rockier as it traversed the Cape Sandstone up on the escarpment to the south of Vanrhynsdorp. Our journey was not made any easier by the fact that we were towing our caravan, but it held up pretty well.
Those of us who arrived early decided to go for a walk and set out on the Hamerkop Trail. It promised to be easy, but we were soon clambering over rocks and traversing around waterfalls. Graham took a headlong dive downhill at one stage and was lucky to incur no more than a few bruises and scratches, but he certainly had us worried for a moment. Of course we were not disappointed by the birds at the farm and were soon adding to our Western Cape Challenge lists, with European Bee-Eaters, Orange River White-Eyes and Karoo Thrushes.
Wednesday saw us moving up the escarpment to Nieuwoudtville, where the birds were not quite so good, but the flowers were wonderful. Then, on Thursday, accompanied by a light drizzle, we traversed across to the east and visited the spectacular Ouberg Waterfall, seeing Layard’s Titbabbler and a couple of Fairy Flycatchers (the high point of the trip for me!) along the path. We then approached Vanrhynsdorp from the SE getting many more good birds, including a Namaqua Warbler and a Common Quail along the way. Of special note were the Booted Eagles which we saw all along the escarpment, soaring, diving, or just sitting around, looking glad to back in the south.
The outing was another feather in the cap of our industrious Chairlady, Barbara, and Graham, not wanting to be outdone, put everyone to shame with his grilled sole on the final night. Gifberg will long remember this event and many future inhabitants of the Groothuis will no doubt wonder why the place smells so of burning rubber!