Baboons

A birding walk on Lemoenkop, in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve, this morning turned up a few good birds, as well as a meeting with a small troop of baboons.  The latter were in our path and were not inclined to move on when approached.  John walked to within a metre or two of the Alpha male, but he would not budge, until John made to throw something at him.  Only then did he trundle away.  Austrian visitors with us were quite disconcerted by the whole thing and were very glad when the path eventually cleared!

Birding in the West Coast National Park

The Hermanus Bird Club organised a three day outing to the WCNP and we were lucky enough to be on it.  We were accommodated at the comfortable Duinepos camp and birded not only in the park, but also at Veldrif and at the saltworks at Kuifkopvisvanger farm.  The latter proved to be a treasure in terms of waders, although we did not see our target bird, the Red-necked Phalarope.  We managed to identify 120 birds in all, so were well pleased with our effort.

Despite forecasts of rain, we managed to stay dry as the showers fell on Monday night.  The veld was much in need of some water and the plants and animals must have been delighted!  A cold westerly wind meant that we froze in some of the bird hides, but birders are a hardy lot and they shivered in silence!

Fernkloof after the Rain

A short walk in Fernkloof this morning was a pleasure after the good rains of the past two days.  Everything was clean and wet and the waterfall was flowing well; just a pity about the ugly boardwalk that leads up to it.  It was sad, however, to see the deterioration and overgrowth on the contour path heading west above Hermanus Heights.  The municipality really should do something about clearing and maintaining the paths in the Reserve, instead of wasting time and money on plans to destroy part of our heritage!

At one time we were rained upon, but for the rest, it was a beautiful day and a beautiful walk – pity there were only 4 us us doing it!

Cutie Pie

A chance happening on a juvenile Brimstone Canary right close to our cottage, whilst Orchid hunting at Barrydale, provided an opportunity to get close to this interesting little bird (what a fantastic hairdo!).  It’s parents were nowhere to be seen and it did not appear to be bothered by our presence.  We were worried as it was sitting in a cold wind and had a somewhat forlorn look about it, so I was relieved to note that an adult pair frequented the same area the next morning, suggesting a nearby nest and a re-united family!

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Juvenile Brimstone Canary

Please Prevent Fernkloof being turned into a Theme Park!

Many readers are no doubt aware of the current proposals for the so-called upgrades to the Fernkloof Nature Reserve (FNR).  These can be viewed at the following website:  https://www.overstrand.gov.za/en/documents/strategic-documents/management-plans/4727-integrated-management-plan-for-the-fernkloof-nature-reserve-hermanus

The public is urged to lodge objections, as this development is likely to cause huge damage to the FNR.  These can be sent to ldevilliers@overstrand.gov.za

My own response (which has been registered) was;

As a member of the Hermanus Botanical Society and a keen walker, amateur botanist, photographer and birder, I wish to state my strong objection to the plans presented for the further development of Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

This reserve is world-renowned for its dedication to preserving the integrity of our natural heritage and serves as a window into the fascinating flora and fauna of the region.  All it requires in terms of future development is the retention and upkeep of its wonderful network of paths, which allow the public to wander freely and enjoy and discover nature at its best.  Trying to convert it to some form of theme park is abhorrent to all nature lovers and the idea of cableways and cafes reflects a mindset which is completely at odds with the original Fernkloof ideals.

I cannot stress strongly enough the antipathy which your proposals generate within the community of Hermanus nature lovers, be they birders, botanists, zoologists or whatever, and I urge you and your colleagues who are responsible for this new plan to think again and withdraw your proposals, in favour of retaining the present state of FNR, but with better attention to the maintenance of the paths so that more people are able to enjoy our wonderful heritage in safety and comfort.

‘River Queen’ continued

Our visit to ‘River Queen’ included some birding and we managed to see 73 species in the immediate area, but strangely, no Kingfishers.  We also walked in the surrounding veld and noted a few interesting flowers, the most exciting one being an Orchid, Holothrix, but we were unable to identify the species.

Keagan picked up my camera and showed his skill as a portrait photographer with some good images.

Walking in Fernkloof

Only five members of the Hurriers turned up this morning at Fernkloof for our weekly walk.  We had intended to climb Hangklip, but there was trouble in Kleinmond, so we decided to not take a chance on the road.

The weather was perfect for walking and it was good to see that the fynbos is really starting to show its Spring flowers.  The slopes of Kanonkop were covered in Aspalathus caledonensis and Geissorhiza ovata, whilst there were many Gladiolus hirsutus and G. debilis.  We also saw Liparia splendens and a single Protea scabra.

It was good to hear the Red-chested Cuckoo calling again and we also got Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Grassbird, Red-winged Starling, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Southern Boubou and Karoo Prinia on the mountain slopes.