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MOUNT CEDER, CEDERBERG GUEST COTTAGES

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NEWS SNIPPETS

  • Jaen-Marié Marais of Mount Ceder recently photographed Cinnamon-breasted Warblers on the farm

    - 2016-08-30


Mount Ceder is found on the main route through the Cederberg Mountain range and represents a perfect weekend and holiday destination. It offers visitors a host of exciting accommodation options and a diversity of outdoor activities to choose from. The valley is surrounded by rugged and arrestingly dramatic mountains, with majestic views and amazing spring flowers, particularly during August and September. The summers are very hot and dry, while the winters are wetter and the higher peaks receive a dusting of snow in winter.

Mount Ceder offers a variety of self-catering accommodation options and is able to serve as base for larger groups such as bird clubs. The units are fully equipped and each cottage has its own charm with fireplace inside and a braai area outside. The Old Millhouse Restaurant offers sumptuous, home-cooked meals. Breakfasts, dinners and formal meals need to be booked in advance. Braai packs can also be ordered from reception and include a selection of meats and some salad. A small country shop allows guests to purchase cooldrinks, fruit juices and various homemade preserves. Olives are grown on the farm and a selection of olive products are for sale in the shop. Mount Ceder is proud to be bottling fresh spring water under their own label which is available to guests. Don’t forget to pick up some olives, grown on the farm! Details of all available facilities are described on our website.

Activities on the property are numerous: Hiking and mountain biking are very popular and in summer visitors can swim, or canoe in the river. The unique rock formations feature delicate San rock art and contain bands of shale where in recent years a few important fossils have been discovered. Visitors can harvest their own olives in season and star-gazing at Mount Ceder is one of the main features of the establishment. Many visitors do however prefer to just simply relax and enjoy the exhilarating peace of this unspoilt paradise from the luxury of their cottage. Mount Ceder's website describes all the activities at the property, as well as well researched overviews of the fauna and flora present in the form of a handy “top 7” highlights.

Most importantly Mount Ceder is any bird-watcher's delight. Situated at the southern end of the Cederberg Wilderness the vegetation is dominated by Karoo scrub, even though agricultural lands and the rugged mountain scenery with lots of water host a great diversity of bird species – well over 100 species have been recorded. This is one of the closest regions to Cape Town where arid Karoo species may be found. Mount Ceder further serves as a perfect base from which to explore the birding delights of the Cederberg Wilderness, the Swartruggens road (with the Katbakkies picnic site) and of course the Tankwa Karoo. Detailed descriptions of bird-watching opportunities in the region are available at this link:

http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/winelands/routes.php

Birds found in the immediate area around the most of the cottages include the BOKMAKIERIE, KAROO PRINIA, SOUTHERN MASKED-WEAVER and CAPE ROBIN-CHAT. Other interesting birds are the BROWN-THROATED and ROCK MARTINS and WHITE-BACKED MOUSEBIRD. The DUSKY, MALACHITE and SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRDS are plentiful when the aloes are flowering and other birds attracted to this bounty are the CAPE BULBUL, PALE-WINGED STARLING and CAPE WEAVER. Some other endemic species in the area are the CAPE SPARROW, CAPE SPURFOWL and CAPE WHITE-EYE.

Rocky outcrops at higher altitudes often host an entirely different selection of species. The CAPE BUNTING, GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH, LAYARD'S TIT-BABBLER, MOUNTAIN WHEATEAR and GROUND WOODPECKER are all on record. Birds of prey seen here include the JACKAL BUZZARD, BOOTED and VERREAUX'S EAGLES and ROCK KESTREL. Other raptors in the general area are the PEREGRINE and LANNER FALCONS, SOUTHERN PALE CHANTING GOSHAWK, with the BLACK HARRIER seen less frequently. At night one can often hear the SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL, but listen carefully for the pronounced call of the RUFOUS-CHEEKED NIGHTJAR.

Mount Ceder is also well known for its wide selection of LBJs. Larks include the LARGE-BILLED, RED-CAPPED and SPIKE-HEELED LARKS, with CAPE CLAPPER LARK and KAROO LARK being particularly prominent in breeding season. The FAMILIAR, KAROO and SICKLE-WINGED CHATS are all available. On the more visually appealing side, expect to find good numbers of CAPE, BLACK-HEADED, WHITE-TROATED and YELLOW CANARIES, as well as STEAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER.

Rank vegetation along the water courses can produce the PRIRIT BATIS, LONG-BILLED CROMBEC, FAIRY FLYCATCHER, KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN, CAPE PENDULINE TIT and GREY TIT. Waterbirds abound at several dams on the property and the BLACK CRAKE, AFRICAN BLACK and YELLOW-BILLED DUCKS, SOUTH AFRICAN SHELDUCK and RED-BILLED TEAL feature prominently. GIANT and MALACHITE KINGFISHERS are also present, while the reed beds host the LITTLE BITTERN, LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA, LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER, COMMON WAXBILL and LITTLE RUSH-WARBLER. Summer migrants include all of the swallows and swifts of the region, as well as the EUROPEAN BEE-EATER and AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER. The EUROPEAN HOBBY and LESSER KESTREL have also been recorded.

Mount Ceder is however best known for hosting some of the special and sought-after species of the region. The CINNAMON-BREASTED WARBLER is notoriously difficult to find due to its shy and secretive behaviour, but is present on the rocky slopes, as is CAPE ROCK-JUMPER. It is a prime area for sightings of the CAPE EAGLE-OWL, CAPE SISKIN and RUFOUS-EARED WARBLER. The SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN, PROTEA SEEDEATER and BLACK STORK are also found in suitable habitats. This is certainly a massively underrated birding hotspot, surrounded by some of the top birding destinations in the sub-region.