TBC OUTING TO ROOI ELS, HAROLD PORTER AND STONY POINT
Posted on the 12th January 2015
TBC OUTING TO ROOI ELS, HAROLD PORTER AND STONY POINT - 18 October 2014
(This report initially appeared in the January 2015 edition of “THE KITE” (No 106), the newsletter of the Tygerberg Bird Club. - Ed.)
I am sure the members sensed that Spring was in the air as they headed southwards to Rooi Els where there was not a breath of wind. While we waited for the members to assemble at the restaurant, Jurie started compiling the SABAP2 card. A very vocal male Cape Rock-Thrush sat conspicuously and entertained us with his musical prowess. We then took the short drive to the gravel road and ambled towards the Cape Rock-jumpers’ territory. Progress was rather slow because we were constantly interrupted by birds that were posing for a photo-shoot. Familiar Chats and Grey-backed Cisticolas were outshone by Orange-breasted Sunbirds and Yellow Bishops in fresh plumage.
This site’s target species was avoiding our attention and later, when Ina’s face lit up, there was no doubt that she had nally managed to connect with a resident pair of Cape Rock-jumpers. Ooohs and Aaahs were uttered as all 19 members managed to get views of these erratic endemics.
As usual, Harold Porter always has something special to offer. A drab Sombre Greenbul, which is usually a canopy creeper, sat conspicuously on the top of a dead tree from where it persistently uttered its loud calls. A rather quiet walk towards Disa Kloof was spiced up when a pair of Giant Kingshers cackled hysterically as they ew along the stream. One bird was later seen perched in a tree near their nesting hole in the bank of the river. Jurie followed a suspicious shape darting into the leafy understory and returned to report that it was just an African Goshawk. We were welcoming the cool shade provided by the tall trees near the upper ablution block when some visitors pointed to a large black boomslang that had caught a rather rotund Cape River Frog. It was difcult to distinguish all of the details of the ensuing battle in the shady undergrowth so I wandered closer to obtain a better view. Brigid, without a moment’s hesitation, asked if I had signed an indemnity form.
The tussle between the slender serpent and the abject amphibian was soon forgotten when Wilfred pointed to a pair of Olive Woodpeckers that were seriously attempting to demolish a tree. A Cape Batis was following the foraging birds closely and it would appear if he was opportunistically feasting on ying insects that were being disturbed by the vigorous hammering of the ‘Peckers’.
By 11 o’clock it was time to feed the troops so we lugged our chairs and bulging picnic baskets to a shady spot near the entrance. After a welcome snack I read through the bird list to ascertain how our spotting had faired. By this time our birding tally was at 53 species. Instead of awarding a prize to the person who guessed the total correctly, I handed the lollipop to Ina for spotting the elusive Cape Rock-Jumpers earlier that morning.
The bolstered convoy headed to Stony Point where we found the parking area almost full and the boardwalk cluttered with foreign tourists who were making the most of the beautiful weather. Imagine that: A day at Stony Point without any wind at all!! The rocky beach was crowded with African Penguins who all seemed to be loitering in the sun after a busy morning at sea. Brigid obtained an update from the conservation ofcer on the status of the colony, as well as some info about the conservation initiatives. A Penguin chick was spotted with a pink stain on its belly. This marking indicated that the young bird had been taken into care at SANCCOB and released from Milnerton once it was able to fend for itself. It had found its own way back to its natal colony. Careful searching revealed a number of Bank Cormorants amongst the many Cape Cormorant. No Crowned Cormorants were observed. Further entertainment was provided by a Rock Hyrax with three small “puppies”, and blue-headed Rock Agamas doing press-ups.
The beautiful weather had set the scene for an enjoyable outing. A big thank-you to Jurie and Brigid who attended to the SABAP2 bird lists and also ensured that all the members got to see the various species.