DE HOOP TRIP SEPTEMBER, 2014 – Dawn Pearce
(This report first appeared in the November 2014 edition of the BirdLife Plettenberg Bay newsletter. - Ed.)
On 16th September 19 enthusiastic birders left for De Hoop Nature Reserve, some of us experiencing the pont at Malgas on route. We were greeted with the warmest of welcomes by Nini Stephens and her staff, who treated us to a sumptuous afternoon tea with delicious cake and quiches.
We then strolled along the vlei, which is so full at the moment and took in the beauty of the reserve. In the evening much fellowship was enjoyed round the braai and once again, had everything beautifully laid on for us.
On Wednesday morning we split up into 2 groups – 8 of us going in the vehicles with Delfrenzo to the plains, fynbos and de Mond, and 9 going walking along the vlei with Pinkie. Both groups had a most enjoyable morning with very enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides. In the afternoon, some of the group then did the vehicle outing and some walked while others of us opted to go to Koppie Alleen to look for the whales, which were plentiful.
Thursday’s weather was somewhat unkind to us as the wind was very strong and the rain kept coming in squalls. We changed plans several times and were about to embark on an indoor bird quiz and some games but at the last minute took a gap and jumped into our cars and headed to a neighbouring farm to go to a vulture restaurant. We saw some Cape Vultures flying above us in the distance but on the way back 15 of them sat in a field on the side of the road near de Hoop so we were rewarded by that. Kudos to Jackie who braved the howling wind and bit of rain to hobble with her crutch up the hill to look for the vultures!! In the afternoon some snoozed, some drove and some played canasta!!
On Thursday evening we had a very delicious 3 course dinner in the restaurant, where, once again Nini and William excelled themselves with their hospitality and service and the dinner was superb!
Oh yes, it was birding we went for.... We saw close to 100 species and so some of the specials we saw were Karoo Prinia, Cloud Cisticola, Cape Clapper Lark, Aghulas Long Billed Lark, Large Billed Lark, Red Capped Lark, Denims Bustard, Grey Wing Francolin, Southern Pochard, Crested Grebe, Black Necked Grebe, Greater and Lesser Flamingoes, Caspian Tern, Capped Wheatear, Cape Shoveler, Shelduck, Macoa Duck, Yellow Billed Kite, Cape Vultures, Southern Tchagra, Black Harrier, Karoo Scrub Robin, Acacia Pied Barbet, Black Crowned Night Heron, Sugarbird, Grassbird, Malachite Sunbird and Kingfisher, White throated Canary, Mallard, Burchell’s Coucal.