2 Hours in Fernkloof

A quick 2 hour hike up Adder’s Ladder and down the front of Kanonkop gave 7 keen walkers a chance to stretch their legs and enjoy the never diminishing beauty of our natural surroundings.  Winter approaches, but one is left wondering if it will ever rain again, and the mountain is very dry.

There was little sign of any birdlife with only Cape Robin, Cape White Eye, Cape Sugarbird, Neddicky, African Olive Pigeon and a distant Victorin’s Warbler noted.

A Mountain near McGregor

Today Renee and I went to the little Karoo near McGregor in search of a Protea Canary. We did not find one, but in our efforts we found a wonderful road up to the communications tower on Galgberg.  The road climbs from McGregor at an altitude of 240 mamsl through farmland and eventually onto a tarred service road to the tower.  It is a narrow and steep road that winds up to a final height of 1400 mamsl! The views are spectacular and the vegetation is beautiful fynbos.  We saw a couple of klipspringers and very few birds, but it was well worth the drive.  Luckily we did not meet any other traffic on the road.

We had lunch, an excellent meal, at the lovely Cafe Temenos, complete with peacocks and a small art gallery, on the main road in McGregor.

Birding at Strandfontein

Renee and I visited Strandfontein this morning hoping to see the African Crake and Knob-billed Duck that have recently been reported there.  We were not disappointed as we managed to see both of them.  Luckily we ran into Trevor Hardaker and he put us on the right track.  The Crake was especially rewarding as it walked right up to us and seemed quite unafraid.

In addition to these two birds we saw another 53 species, so the visit was certainly worthwhile.  Light drizzle accompanied us as we arrived there, but it soon dissipated and we had good, clear, if cold, weather.

Grootvadersbosch Away Trip

Hermanus Bird Club

It started out as an outing for 20 members, but Cape Nature had a drainage problem and the numbers had to be reduced to 12.  The Palmers kindly agreed to camp, so in the end 14 of us set out on Monday.  Numbers continued to diminish for various reasons and by the time Wednesday evening came along, we were down to only 10.

We were very pleasantly surprised by the excellent accommodation available and looked forward to our first forest walk.  This took place on Tuesday morning, when we hiked for three and a half hours in desperate search of Trogons, Flycatchers and Turacos. Sadly, it was not to be – our total count for the forest reserve was only around 30 species, but we were well rewarded with an excellent sighting of a Barn Owl as well as large flocks of African Olive Pigeons – up to 40 or…

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The Franschhoek Literary Festival

Three days in beautiful Franschhoek listening to some of the best writers and political commentators certainly gave one lots to think about.  It was an exhilarating experience and, coupled with the fact that we stayed in a very nice house with good friends, means that we will return again next year.

There was plenty of discussion around not only writing, but also the parlous state of affairs in South Africa.  We left armed many new ideas and with the latest books which will keep us going for quite a while.  We also ran into some old friends and listened to some wonderful music concerts, making for a very pleasant time overall.

The Palmiet River

Yesterday was a fantastic day to walk the Palmiet River path at the Kogelberg Reserve. 11 friends joined us and we hiked 11 kms in the most beautiful weather before returning to the car park and opening up the champagne to celebrate our fiftieth wedding anniversary!  Thank you to all who attended and for the great card you gave us.  It was a fitting way to celebrate 50 fantastic years!

Fernkloof walk

Today our weekly walk took us up Adder’s Ladder and onto the jeep track before coming back down to the Visitors’ Centre via Kanonkop.  It was cool and we covered 6 km.  The high point of the walk for me was not getting up to 340 mamsl, but finding a Hottentot Buttonquail when we got there!  This was a very fine addition to my Challenge list.


Birding near McGregor

Yesterday we went to McGregor and the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve in order to try to supplement our Karoo birding list.  We had wonderful clear warm weather with no wind whatsoever, but nevertheless, the birds we wanted to see eluded us. Sadly, the dams are still empty and the area is in desperate need of rain.  Our afternoon was punctuated by a few isolated drops and there was some thundery activity around, but it remained dry and dusty!

Interestingly, we saw an enigmatic black, white and grey bird with a clear breastband.  It was obviously a wagtail, but the lack of any brown colouration suggested that it had to be a Mountain Wagtail.  This meant a bird very far out of its area and also out of its habitat, so we were reluctant to name it, but there really was no other choice.  I did not get a photograph!

We managed to add three birds to our challenge list, but have yet to see any Eremomelas or Penduline Tits. A journey up the mountain into good protea growth also failed to produce a much-needed Protea Seedeater.

A Walk on the Cliff Path

There were 16 Hurriers on the Cliff Path this morning for our walk from Kraal Rock to the New Harbour and back.  We covered a distance of 13 kilometres and stopped at the Running Rabbit for coffee on the way back.  It was a pleasant outing with cool overcast conditions – ideal for walking!

The happy part of the group
The tired part of the group!