Jenny Parsons, Liesl and Aidan van Heerden
Sunday, 25 February 2019
Liesl and Aidan joined me for an hour at Rooiels. We started at 8am, but the birds were quiet (it was Sunday morning and maybe they were enjoying a slow start to the day)! At the start we spotted the usual’s – Cape Bulbuls, Southern and Malachite Sunbirds, Cape Buntings and Cape Rock-Thrushes were perched on the roofs of the houses.
As we wondered down the dirt road, Familiar Chats and Orange-breasted Sunbirds were flitting about. The haunting call of the Red-winged Starlings made sure we noticed them while the Verreaux’s Eagles circled the top of Klein Hangklip mountain. Speckled Pigeons were sunning on the rocks and initially no sign of the Cape Rock-jumpers or Ground Woodpeckers!
Aidan spotted a few Common Waxbills and then I noticed the familiar movement characteristic of the Cape Rock-jumpers quite high up on the mountain. Aidan got his lifer, and they left soon after to go to church. I decided to see if the Rock-jumpers would come down the mountain, there were now 3 separate pairs in quite close proximity (a little unusual I thought). After almost 40 minutes of quietly watching and waiting, my patience paid off! They came right down that I could almost have reached out and touched them! No more than 3m away. What a privilege – they totally ignored me and were happily foraging for insects. This is my best sighting to date of this handsome and confiding bird.
Cape Rock-jumper 1
Cape Rock-jumper 2
Heading back to the car, I spotted Cape Siskins eating the grass seeds and Cape Buntings were calling. Quite a few magnificent Cape Sugarbirds with extraordinary long tails flitted about. All in all Rooiels produced four of the eight fynbos endemics. A true hotspot for local birding!
Cape Siskin 1
Cape Siskin 2
Next, I checked out the tern roost on the Rooiels beach and could add Swift and Common together with African Oystercatcher, Kelp Gull and a Giant Kingfisher was perched on the rocks near the river. In the car park a Fiscal Flycatcher and Speckled Mousebirds were busy.
I then headed off towards Betty’s Bay and along the R43 White-necked Ravens, a Yellow-billed Kite plus a Common Buzzard were all patrolling the burnt areas. A lone Jackal Buzzard perched on a telephone pole. Helmeted Guineafowl and Cape Spurfowls were busy in Betty’s Bay and Barn Swallows were sitting on telephone wires. All the usual Doves were spotted – Red-eye, Laughing and Cape Turtle. Just outside Stony Point was a Fork-tailed Drongo.
Stony Point was busy, 2 big busses of tourists had just arrived. Their excitement over the penguins was contagious and I offered to take lots of photographs with the African Penguins as a back drop. I was also asked to point out the different cormorants – as they could not distinguish the birds without binoculars. The White-breasted outnumbered the Cape and there was a small group of Bank, unfortunately no Crowned Cormorants were seen. Next to the slipway - Cape Wagtails, Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gulls, Oystercatchers and a Little Egret was fishing. In the sea grass a Hadeda Ibis kept his distance. A fly over of Sacred Ibis on my way out of Betty’s Bay was a bonus.
So, I made our lunch date with 5 minutes to spare! However late afternoon we walked the dogs at Hangklip Lighthouse where I managed to find a few Crowned Cormorants on a roost below the lighthouse and a single Caspian Tern among the Sandwich, Common and Swift Terns on Moonlight Beach. A Rock Kestrel hovered over the strandveld. White-fronted Plovers were busy at the base of the sand dunes and some oystercatchers look like they are still sitting on nests.
Back home sitting on our deck – Rock Martins, Cape Robin-Chat, Streaky-headed Seedeaters, Yellow Bishops, Cape Weavers, Southern Grey-headed Sparrows and Cape White-eyes were all feeding at my feeding station. Lesser Striped Swallows sat on the telephone wire. Our resident Spotted Eagle Owl was heard before he was seen just after the sun went down!
All in all, today once again made me realize how special, what I think of as my “home patch” is. Seeing 66 birds no more than 15km from our home in Pringle Bay is truly special. I am sure if I used bird calls my count would be higher, but I only bird on sight!