Die Dam to Quoin Point

Die Dam is a small resort some 36 kilometres east of Gansbaai.  This morning we walked from there to Quoin Point and back, a distance of 13 kilometres.  The weather was beautiful and, although the walking was tough at times with soft sand and rocky terrain, it was an enjoyable outing, marred only by the endless litter left by previous visitors and the debris thrown up by the sea.

Normally we see many flowers where we walk, but today there were hardly any, so we made do with birds and managed to compile a reasonable list.  On the walk we saw Cape Wagtail, Cape Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Cape Bulbul, Bokmakerie, Cape Weaver, Speckled Mousebird, Pied Starling, Karoo Prinia, Barn Swallow, Common Tern, Swift Tern, Kelp Gull, Hartlaub’s Gull, Water Thick-knee, Grey Plover, Three-banded Plover, Ringed Plover, White-fronted Plover, Common Whimbrel, African Black Oystercatcher, Ruddy Turnstone, Little Egret, and probably a few more that I have forgotten.  John was alert enough to even see a rare Parasitic Jaeger!  It was an enjoyable experience which left us quite exhausted.

Pringle Bay to Rooi Els

Today we walked in perfect mild weather from Pringle Bay to Rooi Els and back.  We started off by crossing the beach at Pringle Bay and then set off along the track that skirts the foot of the mountain.  I had hoped to see some new and interesting birds along the way, but none transpired.  Renee and I had actually started our day by going to Haardebaai at Onrus, where a very rare Northern Rockhopper Penguin had been reported the previous evening, but unfortunately it had left by the time we got there.

The fynbos along the track was worth seeing, although we were disappointed to see the rampant growth of aliens such as Spider Gums and Pines on the eastern section.  On arrival at Rooi Els we ducked down onto the rocky shore and enjoyed a snack whilst watching the huge waves smashing against the rocks.  Then it was back along the way we had come.  By the time we reached Pringle Bay, the tide had come in and we had to remove our shoes to walk across the sodden beach.

Bontebok National Park

Renee and I spent last night at the Bontebok National Park outside Swellendam.  We  were there on a birding trip, trying to add some new birds to my 2013 Berg to Breede river challenge.  This is an endeavour by the Hermanus Bird Club to get more members looking at local birds, and it has got me by the throat, so to speak, as I am really pursuing it in a big way.  As it happened, we did not see many new birds at all, but were able to add a Black Sparrowhawk, Giant Kingfisher and Tambourine Dove to my list.

Apart from the disappointing birding, we did enjoy the walks along the river trails and also the journey there, when we went via Potberg, in order to see the Cape Vultures.  Our chalet at the camp on the banks of the Breede River was comfortable and had a very good view over the river.

Sculptured Corner

It promised to be a warm day when 9 of us set out from the Fernkloof Visitors’ Centre on Wednesday, but we were lucky to start walking in the shade and by the time we got to the top, next to Aasvoelkop, there was a light breeze and we had low cloud cover.  Most of the walk was through typical fynbos with magnificent displays of Erica tenella.  We entered the burn where the path to Aasvoelkop turned off and we only got back into unburnt vegetation some way down the Jeep Track.  The recent good rain had ensured that there was plenty of healthy new growth, but we saw no flowers in the burnt area other than occasional Fire Daisies.  We covered 13 kilometres in just over 5 hours and returned home fairly tired, but well pleased with the walk.

The Contour Path from Vogelgat

This morning we walked the contour path from Vogelgat to Fernkloof.  There were 14 members and we set out from the bird hide parking area, straight into the recently burnt section of Vogelgat.  The first couple of kilometres took us up the lower slopes of Mosselberg and we traversed a desolate landscape, but it was interesting to see the new growth pushing up through the ash, especially the really fast growing asparagus ferns and little colourful Mairia plants.  The latter, also called Fire Daisies, normally only flower after a fire and are, therefore, seldom seen.

We were also lucky to see a blue disa, Disa graminifolia, fortunately still alive as the fire missed it by only a metre.  Further on towards Droekloof we came across a rare Fire Lily. Cyrtanthus leucanthus and, in a shady kloof, a few beautiful Amaryllis belladonna (March Lilies).

On the birding front, we were lucky to see a pair of Cape Rock Thrushes. a pair of Verreaux’s Eagles, the normal ration of sunbirds and prinias as well as a Cape Longclaw.