Fernkloof this morning

Our short walk in Fernkloof this morning took place in cool conditions.  Rain threatened and we even had a few drops, but sadly, nothing came of it.  We wandered around the back of Lemoenkop and up the steep steps to the three dams, before returning to the Visitors’ Centre via the Fernkloof Gardens.

The litter at the base of the three dams is a cause for concern and I will forward the picture to the Municipality for their attention.

Birding around Caledon

Our trip to Caledon this morning in search of unusual Overberg birds was not unsuccessful.  We did not find what we were looking for, but the slow drive along farm roads was rewarding in that we did manage to see a good selection of the usual suspects.  There were very many larks, Red-capped and Large-billed, in the rocky fields as well as Pipits and Capped Wheatears.  Dams along the way abounded with Spur-winged Geese and there were many Blue Cranes in the wheat fields.  The Spotted Eagle Owl at the side of the road was a bonus.

We stopped in at the Caledon Cemetery to try to find some old family graves, but without success.  It was sad to see the neglect in this memorial garden.  A visit to the Wild Flower Garden was more rewarding, as we saw a juvenile Klaas’ Cuckoo near to the entrance and it allowed us to approach to within a few metres.  There were many sunbirds and other fynbos species on show.  Then, a visit to the settling ponds revealed many more Geese and a few other waterbirds such as Yellow-billed Ducks, Red-billed Teals, a few Moorhens and a Black Crake.  We got 75 species in all.

A Walk on the Contour Path

This morning’s walk along the Contour Path from the Visitors’ Centre to Elephant Path and back (a distance of 6.7 km) was attended by 18 Hurriers and one guest.  The weather was cool – perfect for walking – and we all enjoyed the sights and sounds of the mountainside, especially the views over Hermanus and Walker Bay.  The new Sports Centre, under construction on the north side of the High School, is progressing well and the tennis courts and astroturf  hockey field look ready for use.

Our walk was followed by a gathering at Fernkloof for tea and the planning of the 2019 First Half Hiking Programme.

Walking at Flower Valley

Despite the threat of a wet morning and some of the stalwarts being absent with sick leave, 14 Hurriers turned up at the Kraal Rock parking area at 07.30.

On arrival at Flower Valley Farm we were met by Kirsten Retief, Conservation Manager of the Flower Valley Conservation Trust, who told us something about the Trust and the work that it is doing on the farm and with various conservation agencies and organisations in the area.

The fynbos was in excellent condition and we enjoyed two of the shorter walks . First the circular Pincushion Walk which took us up and around a hill and through fields of pincushions.  We then took a ‘there and back’ walk to the Stinkwood Forest where we enjoyed a tea break under a canopy of magnificent old stinkwood trees.  On the way back to the office we found fresh tracks of one of the four leopards known to range in that area.

The total time for the walks, including breaks, was 2h 45m and the total altitude gain 255m.

It was a morning much enjoyed by all and we were back at Kraal Rock by 12.30.

Piet van Zyl (with photos by Piet and Ed Meyer)

Birding at Gifberg

A three night stay at the Gifberg Holiday Farm in the mountains south of Vanrhynsdorp, with the Hermanus Bird Club, allowed for some interesting birding and an enjoyable stay in this remote, but beautiful part of the Western Cape.  The accommodation is basic, but comfortable and the company was good.  Communal evening meals were delicious and a tribute to all the contributors.  We enjoyed some entertaining outings and saw a good number of birds – 107 species to be exact!