Birding at De Hoop

Renee and I spent two nights at De Hoop Nature Reserve in order to do some much needed updating of our 2014 bird list.  We were not disappointed, managing to identify around 90 species within the reserve and a good few extra outside of it.

The accommodation at De Hoop has been upgraded substantially and we had a very comfortable stay.  The recent heavy rains meant that the lagoon was flooded and this had the effect of diluting the bird numbers and types as there are no mud flats for waders. Some of the roads were also flooded, so that access to some areas was limited.  A visit to the Potberg section was well worthwhile and we were lucky to see numerous Cape Vultures in the area.  It was strange to see them standing in pastures alongside sheep with their newborn lambs.  The road from Bredasdorp to Potberg must rank with the Swartrivier road in  terms of the abundance and variety of birds available if one takes one’s time.

We also spent a night a the Agulhas National Park.  Once again, the cottage was very comfortable, but strong winds did dampen our enthusiasm somewhat.  Unfortunately, our return journey across the Agulhas plain was not very productive, nor was a visit to De Mond, where the wind was howling.

Birding at Vermaaklikheid

A family reunion at Oshoek Farm near Vermaaklikheid, on the occasion of Michael and Andrew’s birthday, provided an opportunity to see some of the interesting birds of the region.  For me it was a chance to add some much needed ticks to my HBC Challenge list. The recent heavy rains made it all the more interesting, as there was abundant standing water throughout the region and this attracted all manner of birds.

Perhaps the best sighting was a pair of breeding European Honey Buzzards at Oshoek. These were not easy to identify and it took all of us about a day to get it right.  We also saw a couple of Martial Eagles, a Knysna Woodpecker, a Spotted Flycatcher, and many others. I managed to add 42 species to my list, so was well satisfied.

Apart from the birding, it was wonderful to be with the whole family in such peaceful surroundings, although we all greatly missed Jamie, who was at boarding school for the first time and could not join us.  For the kids, fishing and playing in the river was the main preoccupation, whilst the ladies just enjoyed each other’s company and took in the good vibes.  We were all greatly relieved when David managed to negotiate the hill out of the farm in his Nissan.  We had thought that he would get stuck in the badly eroded ruts and loose gravel.

Renee and Andrew and the Duivenhoks River
Renee and Andrew and the Duivenhoks River

Cruising on the Klein River

Around thirty birders boarded the African Queen in Stanford on Thursday evening for a cruise down the Klein river.  We did not see many birds, but had plenty of fun as a group. Braais were supplied and many made use of them to cook their supper.  What we missed in birds, we made up for with the wonderful scenery along the way.  By the time we returned night had fallen and we were greeted with the rising full moon.  It was a beautiful experience and I would heartily recommend it.

A Successful Search

Sandy and Liz arranged a walk from Voelklip, up the zig-zag and through the ‘burn’ to look for orchids.  There were twelve eager participants and we were lucky to have cool, albeit windy, weather.  This meant that the round trip of 14 kilometres to Beacon Head (plus the climb of around 800 m) was a lot easier than it might have been in hot summer weather.

We were fortunate to see 5 species of Orchid, Disa tenuifolia, Disa cornuta, Disa uniflora Disa bivalvata, and our objective, Satyrium foliosum .  This was a particularly interesting plant as it has never previously been reported in the Fernkloof Reserve, so there was much celebration amongst the botanists in our group.  Of course, we saw many other interesting plants and flowers along the way and some of these are shown below.