Posted on the 12th September 2021

On Saturday BirdLife Overberg’s first official morning outing for a while took us along the ‘Helderstroom prison road’ along the Sonderend River to Greyton. Unfortunately only four members participated, with the two Steves (Peck and Bailey) from Napier joining us at the Greyton Nature Reserve. Kobus and Johan travelled in the one vehicle and Carin and me in the other – the two-way radios did help to facilitate communication.

We drove rather rapidly along the N2 and the R43 before turning off to the Helderstroom prison and the road that follows the Sonderend River to Genadendal and Greyton. The weather was brilliant for birding and we stopped for nearly everything that moved. The landscape was beautifully green with lots of water everywhere after the good rains. Many areas still had bright yellow canola and bits of snow on the Sonderend Mountain reminded us of the bitterly cold weather that we had experienced recently. Carin grew up in the area and it was wonderful listening to her running comments regarding the region – thanks Carin.

We had great fun watching species such as the bishops, CAPE LONGCLAW, CAPPED WHEATEARS and most of the usual doves, mousebirds and sparrows. We saw a flock of at least 50 PIN-TAILED WHYDAHS that included 5 males with their tails not yet fully grown – the waxbills around here must be living in fear. Birds of prey seen included the JACKAL BUZZARD, AFRICAN FISH EAGLE, BLACK HARRIER, AFRICAN MARSH HARRIER and BLACK-WINGED and YELLOW-BILLED KITES. We spent some time at a grove of casuarina trees and eventually heard the calls of CAPE SISKINS that we always look for at these trees.
Keep in mind that for birding purposes one should always travel along the northern (mountain) side of the river as one gets closer to the water allowing for better photographic opportunities. We stopped along the river for a bite to eat and enjoyed exceptional birding. The Riviersonderend was more like a floodplain after the good rains and the TWK Dam overflowing. Warblers were calling continually, several AFRICAN MARSH HARRIERS were quartering along the reedbeds and the vast majority of common waterbirds were on view. Wonderful birding. The sighting of the day however was a caracal in broad daylight in the middle of the road – huge excitement!

The arrangement was to meet the Steves at the waterfall in the Greyton Nature Reserve. We promptly took on the long trek up the gorge to the waterfall and when we got to the end there were not a Steve in sight – they went to the waterfall closer to the parking area. The birding was however out of this world up the slippery slopes of the gorge and the scenery absolutely stunning as can be seen from some of the images herewith. Stand outs were three JACKAL BUZZARDS (two adults with a youngster), BOOTED EAGLE, BLACK SAWWING, both resident martins, BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHERS and GREATER DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD, the latter that we don’t get in Hermanus. A family of CAPE ROCK THRUSHES created entertainment once we got back to the parking area and met up with the Steve’s at last. It was agreed that the Greyton Nature Reserve deserves a morning outing on its own.

We returned to Hermanus along the Swartrivier road, but it was now beyond midday and birding wasn’t at its best. We did though get most of the usual common suspects. In the end we managed to record 98 species with the Steves adding more on their trip from Napier. The full list of species recorded, together with some images is available under ‘SIGHTINGS’ on this website. This area is certainly one of the top birding spots in our region and certainly deserves a visit.

There is a huge demand for more outings at this stage and outings to at least Napier, De Mond Nature Reserve, the Gansbaai region and Elgin are currently being considered. Details of future outings will be released shortly. We would like to encourage members and friends to participate in these outings as we are in for a bumper birding season after the outstanding winter rains. Also keep in mind that we will be presenting the ‘’SUMMER MIGRANTS’ identification and appreciation course next week in preparation of World Migratory Bird Day on 9 October – contact us for details.

Classic Overberg landscape in spring - Image by Carin













Interesting juvenile Jackal Buzzard - Image by Steve
White-faced Whistling Ducks - Image by Steve









Cape Grassbird - Image by Johan












Black Harrier in the mist - Image by Steve















Pale fased Booted Eagle - Image by Carin
White-throated Swallow - Image by Johan











The highlight of the day: Caracal in broad daylight - Image by Carin















Cape Sugarbird - Image by Johan
Yellow Bishop - Image by Johan

















Black Sawwing - Image by Johan
Satyrium erectum, a late winter flowering orchid Carin



















Wonderful to see that farmers in this area are also protecting Renosterveld habitats in support of the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust campaigns - Image by Carin













The magnificent Greyton Nature Reserve
Johan hard at work - Images by Carin


















Towards the waterfall - Image by Carin








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