We presented the Flight for Birders course at beautiful Montagu on Friday and Saturday. We were pleasantly surprised with what the town and environs offer from a birding perspective. Abigail’s Garden Cottage served as an ideal base for the two evenings spent in the town as the garden produced more than 30 species in the short time that we had available for birding before nightfall on Thursday.
At Abigail's Garden Cottage, Montagu
The participants in the course were very enthusiastic and it seems as if there is a strong need for the creation of at least a birding interest group. Several discussions about the birding potential of the region resulted in Elaine now investigating the possibility of BirdLife Overberg spending an away weekend in the area, probably in March or April next year.
The birding tourism potential of the region was also discussed extensively and we will most likely look at the possibility of developing birdfinder web pages for either the Montagu region, or the Langeberg municipal region as a whole. There are many wonderful birding destinations along the Breede River and birding at the Vrolijkheid and Pat Busch Nature Reserves are well known.
We spent some time at the Leidam in the centre of Montagu as part of the practical outing. Vast numbers of Cattle Egrets and African Sacred Ibis are breeding there at the moment and several common garden and water birds were also on view. A large flock of Alpine Swifts also staged a dramatic fly-past. Willie Long is part of a group looking after the dam and they are considering creating a floating island on it improve birding opportunities. We referred him to Dale Wright, the BirdLife South Africa conservation manager in the Western Cape, as he has a lot of experience in this regard.
Practical outing at "Die Leidam". Montagu
There were several chats concerning birds in the district and it seems as if there are at least three breeding pairs of Verreaux’s Eagles in the mountains around Montagu. Booted Eagles are apparently also regularly present. Interesting that this is one of the areas where the distribution ranges of Karoo and Olive Thrushes overlap and I see from the literature that the probably hybridise. I Include images of the two species below to illustrate differences.
There are so many wonderful and relatively “undiscovered” birding hotspots in the Western Cape that still need to be introduced to the growing birding tourism market and the village of Montagu and surrounds certainly serves as a prime example of this.
The next Flight for Birders course will be at Sedgefield on 10 & 11 November. Contact Elaine at firstname.lastname@example.org or 082 455 8402 for details and to register.
Olive Thrush - Note orange flanks, bolder streaking on throat, dark eye-ring. white undertail coverts & dark base to the culmen
Karoo Thrush - Note very little orange on belly and not flanks, very little streaking on throat. orange eye-ring and pure yellow bill.