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BIRDSONG IN VERMONT, HERMANUS

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Birdsong, Hermanus sits nestled in a grove of Milkwood trees, overlooking the Vermont Saltpan, a very well known bird sanctuary. The four bedroom, three bathroom house is fully equipped for eight people. The house has a fully-equipped kitchen, and a spacious dining and lounge area with TV, DSTV and DVD Player. The living area has a wood-burning stove which warms the house while creating a cozy atmosphere. The large verandah at the front of the house has a built-in braai and offers spectacular views from where one can watch the mountains change colour as the sun sets and birds fly in roost for the night. The grove of Milkwood trees at the back offers a cool place to shelter from the summer sun. This house is the ideal location for all nature lovers wanting to relax away from the city.

Birdsong is however any birder's delight. There is a great diversity of waterbirds here and it is often possible to see up to thirty species from the patio. Common species include Yellow-billed Duck, Hartlaub's and Kelp Gulls, Kittlitz's and Three-banded Plovers, Cape Shoveler, Little Grebe, Black-winged Stilt and Cape and Red-billed Teals. Large numbers of White-breasted Cormorants and Grey Herons breed here in summer. The saltpan also produces Maccoa Ducks fairly often and vast numbers of Pied Avocets and Greater Flamingos are seasonally present when conditions are optimal.

The areas around the pan host endemic species such as Cape Bulbul, Fiscal Flycatcher, Karoo Prinia, Cape Spurfowl and Cape Weaver, with Cape Sugarbirds being plentiful during summer months. The reedbeds hold Levaillant's Cisticola and Common Waxbill, as well as the two resident warbler species, Lesser Swamp-Warbler and Little Rush-Warbler, with African Reed-Warbler being very vocal in summer. Purple Herons and Black-crowned Night-Herons often fly about over the reeds, particularly early in the morning. More secretive species such as Common Moorhen, Black Crake and African Purple Swamphen are also present in good numbers. Vagrant species recorded here in the past include Common Cuckoo, African Openbill, Marabou Stork, Hottentot Teal and Sedge Warbler.

The large grove of Milkwood trees on the Birdsong property bring a different suite of birds into play. Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis, Bokmakierie, Southern Boubou, African Dusky Flycatcher, Sombre Greenbul, Cape Robin-Chat and Olive Thrush are common. African Paradise-Flycatcher, which regularly nest in the trees, and several cuckoo species create huge entertainment in summer months. African Olive-Pigeon, Southern Tchagra and Cardinal and Olive Woodpeckers are recorded occasionally. African Hoopoe is an occasional visitor.

The eucalyptus trees to the north and west of the pan should also be investigated as there are breeding records of African Goshawk, African Harrier-Hawk and Black and Rufous-chested Sparrowhawks here. These species often hunt in the Birdsong garden with the African Goshawk frequently seen flying through the milkwoods in the back garden.

Hermanus offers many outstanding nature-based activities and is world renowned as one of the best land based whale watching destinations. Ultimately Birdsong serves as an ideal base from which to investigate many of the top birding destinations along the Cape Whale Coast. Details to be found at this link: http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/overberg/routes.php