I have received a few images from Kim (the Sharklady and owner of the Majestic) and Ed, and thought it would be nice to share them on this platform ….. also added a few more of my own.
Only four intrepid Hurriers turned up for our Fernkloof walk this morning. We traversed around Lemoenkop, past the dams, and then down along the Mossel river as far as the main road. Yesterday’s rains meant that the water was up and we could go no further. It was really good to see the odd waterfall and walk along the burbling stream and, luckily, the rain had stopped so we stayed dry.
It was our first walk since Robin passed away, so we stopped and had a minute’s silence whilst we remembered him and the great contribution he made to our group. We will miss him and his wisdom.
On Sunday morning we set out with a group of friends to do some pelagic birding in the area south of Cape Point. This is where upwelling of bottom waters occurs and it is, therefore, a favourite fishing ground for the trawlers that operate out of Cape Town. We sailed on the well-equipped and staffed Majestic, a tuna boat based in Hermanus. Powered by twin 300 HP Suzuki outboards, this vessel fairly flew over the, at times, choppy water.
Our trip took us to an area 60 km south of Cape Point. This meant that we had to travel around 85 km from Hermanus, a journey that took us about three hours there and over four hours back. We saw little on the way out. The sea was rough (by my standards) with swells of around 2 to 2.5 metres, so we found it very difficult to stand steady, as is required for using binoculars or a long lens. At one time we passed a school of dolphins, and there were odd Albatrosses and Gannets around. We passed through the busy shipping route that circumnavigates the Cape and saw plenty of activity, even a lone yacht with no sails up.
Then, to our delight, we spotted a couple of trawlers and the birds were suddenly everywhere. Whilst there was a good number, there were not as many species as we had hoped for. Our list of 21 species included:
Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross; Black-browed Albatross; Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross; Shy Albatross; Sooty Albatross; Cape Cormorant; White-breasted Cormorant; Cape Gannet; Hartlaub’s Gull; Kelp Gull; African Penguin; Northern Giant Petrel; Southern Giant Petrel; Pintado Petrel; Spectacled Petrel; White-chinned Petrel; Antarctic Prion; Sooty Shearwater; Brown Skua; Wilson’s Storm Petrel; Arctic Tern.
There was a light breeze in the morning and the sea was, as described, difficult to cope with when trying to use a long lens, but the birds were very active and we had some wonderful sightings. Chumming from the boat added to the drama as the various species competed with one another for the scraps thrown overboard. The most aggressive feeders were the Brown Skuas. Perhaps the most beautiful sight was the flocks up to 20 or 30 Pintado Petrels with their wonderful pied plumage.
One exceptional bird seen by the Turners, and photographed by Cynthia, was the White morph of the Southern Giant Petrel and her beautiful image is appended below.
By the time we were half way back to Hermanus, the wind had completely dropped and the sea flattened out beautifully. If only this had happened earlier, but we were well pleased with our day and sorry to leave the boat when we returned at sunset. Walter Mapham arranged the trip and proved to be a great host, with his knowledge of the sea and boats, and our skippers, Boet and Glynn, accompanied by Manny, looked after us very well.
Our walk this morning was planned by Fran to ascend the ZigZag, traverse along the Jeep Track, and then descend down to Vogelgat via Mossel Nook. It started off pretty windy but six brave ladies and I decided to proceed – until we reached the top of the ZigZag – at which point the wind, which had, until then, been impeded by the mountain, hit us with its full force! I was blown off the path and Fran had her spectacles blown off her face. Luckily we found them, along with her hat, but we quickly decided to abandon the windy heights and set off back down to the contour path instead. We had a good walk in the end, covering only around 4.3 km, but it was at least in a protected environment and we could proceed without fear of being blown away.
This morning’s walk in Fernkloof could not have taken place under better conditions. No wind, and some welcome sunshine to warm our backs when we came out of the shade. There were nine of us present and we walked 7 km over Kanonkop and down Adder’s Ladder – and I still cannot find that elusive Hottentot Buttonquail!
A Bird Club visit to Greyton this morning reminded us of how the climate can change when one moves inland from the coast. It was freezing when we (16 in number) arrived at around 8:30 am. A 2,5 km walk to the south of the village soon warmed us up, however, and we spent a good couple of hours searching what looked like a very promising environment for local birds, but were disappointed to find very few.
We then returned to the village and drove through to the Nature Reserve. This drive revealed how the storm, which occurred about ten days earlier, had ravaged the town, There were scores of huge trees blown over or simply broken as they stood. Many had fallen on homes and there was quite a lot of roof damage visible. It must have been a frightening experience!
Our visit to the Nature Reserve was not much better from a birding viewpoint, with very many Cape Sugarbirds, but little else. We walked through some magnificent stands of varied proteas and saw some unusual ericas, so it was interesting and the walk was along quite a difficult path. This walk was also around 2,5 km, but took us quite a long while to traverse.