Posted on the 28th January 2012

Louise and I recently returned from a blissful 5 days at Little Stone Cottage at Laaiplaats near Mossel Bay. Our purpose was that we just needed to be away from people for a while after a very busy & trying year.

We could not have chosen a better place. The cottage is well equipped, comfortable and ideally located. Our hosts, Marius & Joeline were a delightful couple who are passionate about nature and conserving this remnant of indigenous forest as well as its fauna & flora.

Birding was quieter than expected for the first few days which were hot & mainly overcast. After an overnight shower on the 4th night the picture changed dramatically with previously shy birds coming out into the open and calling.

I managed a total of 62 species with highlights being a juvenile Crowned Eagle which came in at 8pm every evening to roost on a kranz next to the cave and then leave again at 5h30 in the morning. Its call - kewee-kewee-kewee whilst on the wing would alert me and I would rush out with bins swinging frantically to get a view before the bird landed. This bird is still in the blonde phase and so I would assume it is still relatively young. The light was unfortunately never good enough for a photo.

Other good birds were Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Brown-backed Honeybird, Amethyst Sunbird (completing its nest right next to the deck of the cottage), African Firefinch, Tambourine Dove and an interesting sighting of a male Paradise Flycatcher chasing the resident Forest Buzzard off his perch! On one occassion we heard Wood Owl calling in the middle of the night from across the river.

Anyone visiting his beautiful spot, when you turn off the tar road in the direction of Laaiplaats, do take a look in the paddocks of the Percheron Stud Farm on the corner where I picked up Blackwinged Lapwing. The stud is worth a visit as well, also very nice people.

Little Stone is very highly recommened but do take everrhing with you as you are a long way from shops and if you cannot live without your TV, laptop or cellphone then rather go somewhere else!

On the way home we stopped in at Vleesbaai and managed to get to grips with the Hudsonian Godwit & 1 x Pectoral Sandpiper.

I have some photos up on my facebook page which can be viewed at should you be interested.

Happy birding!

Chris Spengler



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