(Only Dave de Beer and Anita de Jager went on the Thursday morning outing in May. Anita tells more):
Regrettably no one else turned up so – after some contemplation – Dave and I set out on our own. The morning started off by being overcast with an awesome lighting storm over Walker Bay. Dave had to stop to take some pictures. In Stanford we spotted two nice specials – some White-backed Duck and a lovely sighting of a Purple Gallinule amongst the reeds. Not special but also swimming around were a couple of Mallard Ducks with their mixed off-spring. We proceeded along the Akkediskloof Valley. Stopping at a bridge spanning the Klein River we saw some Reed Cormorants and Pied and Malachite Kingfisher. Unexpectedly the weather improved drastically when we hit the Oudekraal road. What a gem this road turned out to be. Rolling fields on either side and always the murmur of the Klein River winding it's way through pastures alive with sheep and their newly born lambs. At the farm called Klipdrift (as in the brandy) we turned off as Dave wanted to inspect the restaurant and accommodation on the farm with an eye to future stop-overs or possibly a weekend-outing. We had the experience of arriving simultaneously with 2 vehicles transporting about 20 elderly citizens from the Caledon old age home for a lunch in the restaurant. We met the owner's wife Madeleine du Toit who invited us in to have a look. We wound our way between crutches and walking aids and wheel chairs through a procession of 'dressed for the occasion' elderlies. We agreed that this could be a nice lunch venue (real boerekos including 2 bazaar puddings and a small bar) for a day outing. Weekend stayover – debatable. On the outside patio we spotted a Streaky-headed Seed-eater. On Madeleine's suggestion we then took a walk along the banks of a muddy little stream through some groves of assorted trees. What amazing birding this proved to be. Dave is of the very strong opinion that this would be an absolute birder's paradise in early summer. We spotted Bar-throated Apalis, Yellow Bishop, Cape Bulbul, Levaillant's Cisticola, Fork-tailed Drongo, Cape White-eye, Common Fiscal, Karoo Prinia, Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Robin-Chat, African Stonechat, Malachite Sunbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Common Waxbill, Cape Sparrow, Cape Wagtail and Cape Canary to name but some. We then hit the road towards Tesselaarsdal. Another scenic drive along a good dirt road. Blue Crane, Pied Crow, White-necked Raven, Hadeda, Cattle Egret, Yellow Bishop, Cape Weaver, Red-capped Lark, Cloud Cisticola, Black-headed Heron, Helmeted Guineafowl, Egyptian Goose, Cape Spurfowl, Jackal Buzzard, Black-shouldered Kite, Yellow Canary et al were spotted. When we reached the T-Junction with the Hemel-and-Aarde Road it was just on 1 o'clock. Dave picked up speed with the remark that this was not a very good road for birding. Too much traffic and dust. I had just settled down to give my back and eyes a rest after all the excitement when I spotted a big black bird sitting on a heap of dried grass approximately 25 metres from the side of the road. At first I thought to let it ride but then asked Dave whether he had seen same. Immediately he turned the Combi around and so doing spotted the black object. "It's a black cat" he observed. I thought I was going to die of shame and knew I would never hear the end of this black cat episode when it's silhouette took on the form of a bird. As we stopped next to it Dave grabbed his camera but as he opened the door this magnificent Black Harrier took of. Dave was absolutely devastated that he couldn't get proper action photo. !!!!
What an exciting end to a very lucrative and enjoyable birding outing. All in all we spotted in excess of 50 species.
Members and interested persons should really make a special effort to join Dave on these once a month Thursday outings.