BIRDING IN THE KLAASVOOGDS REGION NEAR ROBERTSONPosted on the 16th May 2021
Members of BirdLife Overberg received an invitation to visit the Galloway Guest House in Klaasvoogds West outside Robertson to explore birding opportunities in the region. Nine of us stayed in the very comfortable and well equipped lodge and Frank and Riaan stayed at the Mallowdene Cottages some 700 meters away. Upon arrival on Tuesday afternoon we settled in and walked around investigating the various small holdings in the area.
|Entrance road to Galloway Guest House|
|View to the east from patio|
|View to the north from the patio|
|Preparing for a braai|
Several small dams allowed for great birding and collectively we managed to find species such as Black Crake, Water Thick-knee, Common Moorhen, African Spoonbill, four species of kingfishers and the common geese, herons and ibises. The well maintained garden of the lodge as such produced all three mousebirds, Cape Robin-chats, African Stonechats and a large flock of all-brown Southern Red Bishops foraging on the lawns. The calls of the Acacia Pied Barbet, Bokmakierie and Southern Boubou were heard continually and other endemic species located on the property included Cape Bulbul, Cape Canary, Karoo Prinia, Pied Starling, Cape Weaver and Cape White-eye. This immediately showed that the lodge can be used very effectively for visiting local and international bird-watchers.
|Purple Heron - Charles Britz|
|Jackal Buzzards - Charles Britz|
The Mallowdene Cottages are very well situated and feature well established gardens with massive old trees – any birder’s dream. This is an ideal spot for two couples to have a peaceful break-away. The Bar-throated Apalis, African Olive Pigeon, several sunbirds and most of the species mentioned earlier were located there. Charles and I spotted nearly all-black Black Sparrowhawk flying towards the mountains, David found one with a lot of white in the chest and Riaan photographed a rufous juvenile.
We braaied together in the evenings and enjoyed supper around the long table, which is ideal for lots of bantering and the sharing of stories of birds seen during the day. The excellent wines and olives of Exdiem are also on sale and we all agreed that Galloway is an outstanding destination for a small group of birders wanting to explore this hugely underrated area on a self-catering basis. An added bonus was the calls of Spotted Eagle-Owls, Fiery-necked Nightjars, Crowned Lapwings and the two thick-knees that could be heard at night.
|Charles explaining to Susjan, Richard & Elsabe|
|Serious duo - Frank & Riaan|
On Wednesday morning we all explored different opportunities in the surrounding areas. David and Anne went to Montagu and Kogmanskloof, MC and Corrie went hiking in the Dassieshoek Nature Reserve and Charles and Bunty visited Vredelus Farm higher up in the valley towards the mountains. Richard and Elsabé and Frank, Riaan and I explored the road up to the gate of the Pat Bush Nature Reserve, as well as the circle route through the Klaasvoogds area. The three of us also drove up to Dassieshoek and briefly visited the Robertson sewage works. Some good species added to our list included Cape Batis, Purple Heron and Karoo Scrub Robin, with a Jackal Buzzard seemingly all white in the chest and belly stealing the show.
In the afternoon David volunteered to give us an illustrated talk on the geology of the creation of the Cape fold mountains, even though he could only use his laptop. The talk was very well received by the group and our hosts. It was supposed to last for about 20 minutes and in the end went on for more than an hour. It was agreed in principle that this fascinating talk will be presented at a future club meeting when we feature a non-birding talk once a year.
On Thursday morning we visited Vredelus Farm, the home of the Exdiem Wine and Olive Estate owned by our hosts. The mountain stream on the farm is well-wooded and really made for excellent birding. The calls of birds were heard continually and we were able to add several species such as African Goshawk, African Hoopoe, Common and Swee waxbills and Pin-tailed Whydah. Our hosts regularly find African Fish Eagle, Tambourine Dove, Fairy Flycatcher and Southern Tchagra in this area. Birding was dominated by large flocks of African Olive Pigeons obviously benefitting from the ripening of olives at this time of year much to the irritation of the owners. The highlight of our visit was undoubtedly the discovery of a small group of Red-billed Firefinches in the Acacia thickets. Charles submitted his BirdLasser list to SABAP2 and obviously received an ‘Out of Range’ card. Fortunately Riaan got some images. One wonders how many other out of range species could be found in this hugely underrated region. We then joined the owner for some wine tasting and left with gifts of limes and butternuts.
|Vredelus dam 1|
|Vredelus dam 2|
|Red-billed Firefinch male|
|Red-billed Firefinch pair - Riaan Jacobs (2)|
Frank organised that we visit the Excelsior Wine Estate for lunch and going there we added Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Hamerkop and Grey-winged Francolin to our growing list of species recorded. Freddy and Kathy de Wet have created and marvellous three-day wine walk visiting various wine estates in the area during which participants find out more about farming practices and other interesting things in the region. These trails go through most of the habitats types of the region and afford excellent birding. This needs to be investigated seriously – visit https://www.excelsiorguesthouse.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Excelsior-Advertorial-final.pdf to find out more about this exciting venture.
|At Excelsior Wine Estate|
|Wine tasting at Exdiem|
In the end we were very impressed with what this area to the east of Robertson has to offer from a tourism perspective, keeping in mind that we have previously posted some reports on visits to Barry House at Riverton Stud. More than this, birding in the region is however outstanding and it is hoped that the development of a birdfinder web page and a checklist for the region will contribute significantly to the marketing of the Langeberg region as a top birding destination. The next article in my column in Landbouweekblad will also highlight birding opportunities in the area.
We express our sincere appreciation to Koos and Susjan and Johan and Jana for their wonderful hospitality and generosity and we are sure that more birding groups will visit this region in future. Visit Galloway Sel-Catering House | GALLOWAY ALL S/C (gallowayguesthouse.co.za) and Mallowdeen Self-Catering Cottage | GALLOWAY ALL S/C (gallowayguesthouse.co.za) to find out more about Galloway Guest House and Mallowdene Cottages.
16 May 2021.
(More bird images will be posted as these are received).
|Road sign showing what is available along the Klaasvoogds Meander|
|Cardinal Woodpecker - Charles Britz|
|African Olive Pigeons - Charles Britz|