The Onrus/Vermont Coastal Path

This morning 11 of us had the pleasure of walking the 8 km route from the Milkwood Restaurant to Brekvisbaai and back.  It was a perfect morning to be out and there were many others enjoying this beautiful part of our coastline.  This path should be an example to all the users of the Hermanus Cliff Path, which is always fouled by dogs, who’s owners do not clean up after them.  We did not see a single bit of litter, whether deposited by dogs or otherwise, making walking so much more pleasurable.

Onrus path
Our Route

A stop opposite the caravan park for a really tasty cup of coffee was very welcome and it was good to see the water dishes put out for the many dogs that were walking.

The high point of the walk, for me, was seeing a Peregrine Falcon fly past carrying a captured dove, and then a Greater Double Collared Sunbird near to the point at Onrus.

Hermanus Artist Succeeds Again

HERBS

Local botanical artist, Margaret de Villiers has once again made headlines with her outstanding entry at the recent Royal Horticultural Show in London, where her panel of endangered local Ericas won a Gold Medal.  This was one of only thirteen gold medals awarded to contributors from around the world and reflects the outstanding quality of her work, in which every detail is captured with extreme precision.  Mags recognises the importance of faithfully recording these beautiful flowers and the work is further enhanced by reproducing exquisite photomicrographs of the flowers’ internal make up*.  She paints under a magnifying glass and each work can take months to complete.

We are truly privileged in Hermanus to have such a dedicated person in our midst and her work will always remind botanists and artists of the true value of good botanical art, where realism is all important, but where, in Mags’ case, each picture…

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Hermanus Bird Club MBBD

On Sunday 13 March (lucky for some!) six teams made up of HBC members took part in the Annual Mini Big Birding Day competition.  The forecast was for light rain in the morning, however, most of us managed to get through the day without getting wet as the showers were pretty scattered.  The six a.m. start was something of a problem with the overcast conditions not allowing any light through, but two  teams actually managed to see a Fiery Necked Nightjar, and most others got Spotted Eagle Owls.

Thereafter the teams set off on their various routes and, whilst some had more success than others, the general consensus was that everybody had a good time and could not believe that 12 hours of concentrated searching could pass so quickly.  Meals were gobbled down at roadblocks, shortcuts were taken to arrive at special locations and, by the end of the day, speed limits were probably being broken in order to squeeze in one more bird!

At the ensuing prize-giving and braai, each team recounted their day and it was interesting to learn about what other twitchers had seen or missed.  Scores were varied, but one thing was certain – the winners were the Hermanus Harriers, comprising the Palmers, Mike Ford and Lee Burman.  They came home with a record 135 species followed closely by the Naughty Terns made up of the MacNaughts and Turners (surprisingly!) at 128.  My team, Any Bird Will Do, came in fourth with 120 species.

For me personally, it was a wonderful day – my first in this competition, but it will not be my last.  This is what birding is about and it provides a wonderful opportunity for people to get to know one another as well as to share their birding prowess and learn from the members of their team.  Let’s hope that more teams enter in the future!

3/5 in one image

Its not often that one can capture 3 (Elephant, Rhino and Buffalo) of the Big Five in one image.  Perhaps it is a sign of the drought in the Kruger Park; just a pity the other 2 (lion and Leopard) were not also present, but that would have been asking a bit much!

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Three of the Big Five

A Break from the Lowvveld

Whilst in Hazyview and spending all our time in the Kruger Park, we decided that a break from the heat was justified.  Accordingly, we spent one day visiting the beautiful mountainous area around Graskop and Pilgrim’s Rest.  The climb from an elevation of around 300 m to 1700 m above sea level made a world of a difference with a marked drop in temperature and light rain and mist for part of the day.  We visited God’s Window and the associated rain forest and were amazed to see the huge areas covered with mosses and Clivias, although the latter were not blooming en mass.

It also gave us a chance to see the Long-Crested Eagles which characterise the area as well as a wonderful sighting of some beautiful Orange-Breasted Waxbills.

An unusual Bird Party

Last week, whilst in the Kruger Park, we were fortunate to witness a really interesting bird party.  With the ongoing drought, the river levels were very low and at one pool on the Letaba River, we noticed a large number of birds.  Unfortunately it was on the far side of the wide riverbed, so we could not get close, but what we did see was astounding.

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Assorted members of the Party

We counted around 70 Great White Pelicans, 35 Marabou Storks, 20 Yellow-Billed Storks, 15 Grey Herons, 10 African Openbills, 3 Hamerkops, along with assorted Striated Herons, Water Thick-Knees, a Goliath Heron, a Pied Kingfisher and 3 African Fish Eagles (2 of which were juveniles).  There was plenty of activity with the birds foraging and rushing back and forth and every now and then furious interaction between Marabou Storks and the Fish Eagles.  Only after looking at my rather poor photographs (given the distance) did we realise that there must have been hundreds of fish trapped in the pool and that the birds were having a real feast.  A few photographs try to show some of the action.