A Walk at Beloftebos

This morning a lucky group of ten of us had the privilege of walking at Beloftebos.  The good rains of the early morning had stopped and we had wonderful overcast, cool weather for walking.  Our route of 10 km followed an excellent path (also used as a mountain-bike trail) through a good variety of habitats.  We meandered next to a fast flowing stream, through fields and forests and saw many beautiful flowers and birds, including African Harrier Hawk and Forest Buzzard.

It was particularly nice to see many Orchid plants starting to emerge and we were interested to see them (Satyrium odorum) growing in what appeared to be a symbiotic relationship with a pretty green Lachenalia, which we could not identify.

This was an excellent walk!  Well done, Jenny in finding it and be assured, we will do it again, many times, I hope!

A cold Beach Walk

Ten brave souls ventured out onto the beach for a walk to Sopies Klip this morning. There was such a strong westerly wind blowing that we flew along going east, but the return was not so nice, walking into the teeth of the wind.  It was, nevertheless, an enjoyable outing and we completed it before the threatened rain arrived.  We flagged, however, after about three kilometres and never actually reached our destination!

At Last! Another Orchid

A walk in Fernkloof this morning revealed a single Disperis capensis at the side of the path.  This is the ‘Moederkappie’ and is a particularly beautiful little flower.

Disperis capensis
Disperis capensis

Unfortunately there was a strong breeze blowing, so it was impossible to get a decent photo, but nevertheless, it was an important ‘lifer’ for me.


Sunday on the Palmiet River

Following our return to Hermanus from a very successful 5 week birding trip, Gillian and Andrew asked us to join them for a picnic and walk along the Palmiet river in the Kogelberg on Sunday. It was a beautiful, if cool day and we really enjoyed seeing the river running strongly after the rains of the previous two days.

Our picnic was wonderful – if excessive.  We seemed to have too many good things to eat and some chilled wine washed it all down well!  We returned to our cars, well satisfied after ten vigorous kilometres.  The beauty of the mountains and valley is something that one cannot easily forget and we will return often to this lovely area.

A Winter Birding Traverse – Part 13 – Sanbonani to Hermanus

Our journey from Sanbonani took us down to Clarens in the eastern Free State, but not before we had had to cope with early morning rush hour traffic in Mbombela! The trip was uneventful and, with around 600 kilometres to cover, left little time for birding along the way.

We did, however, visit the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, where we experienced the beauty of the area in the setting sun.  At the vulture restaurant we did not see any vultures. and had to be content with a pair of Cape Longclaws pecking at the carcasses.

Our accommodation at Mill Pond Cottage was excellent and we awoke to a temperature of -3 degrees!  The birdbath in the garden had 15 cm of ice in it! Holding a frozen steering wheel was not too pleasant as we departed for Graaf-Reinet, but things soon warmed up and we had a pleasant drive down the Lesotho border.

On arrival we immediately set out for the Valley of Desolation, hoping to see some good birds, but there were none.  The best birds were in The Drostdy Hotel, which is presently home to the fabulous collection of original bird paintings that were commissioned for the first Roberts Guide. There are about 50 plates on show and they are well worth a visit.

Besides the bird paintings the hotel is full of wonderful botanical art as well as many artefacts from the early days of Graaf-Reinet.  The wine list in the restaurant was also something to behold!

From Graaf-Reinet, we had a good run home to Hermanus.  We had been away for 5 weeks and it would take some getting used to not birding all day! Our trip list numbered 393 birds – not bad for winter.  We covered 10300 kilometres – an average of 26 km per bird, and I estimate that we spent around 250 hours actually birding!  It was a truly memorable experience.

Grahame Snow who runs Reach Africa Birding Safaris was an excellent guide during the Zimbabwe leg of our journey.  I can recommend him to anybody interested in birding in the southern African region, where he conducts a wide variety of different excursions.