Brummer, Dave, Frank and myself did our normal BLSA Birding Big Day in a different way. We experienced a brilliant weather day compared to what we have seen over several months now. This caused extended walks in beautiful habitats, taking photographs rather than twitching and generally having a good time (and watching the rugby test – unfortunately). We did though decide to give feedback on some great experiences and a few fantastic birding destinations:
THE MILKWOOD GROVES ALONG THE OVERSTRAND COAST: We started the day at Brummer's place in Kleinbaai and decided to first do our coffee in the garden and down the road. The name “CAPE” was operational as batis, wagtail, robin-chat, turtle dove, bulbul, weaver and several other dominated early morning proceedings. A CAPE LONGCLAW seemed strangely out of place in this habitat and a SOUTHERN TCHAGRA, together with a pair of SPOTTED EAGLE-OWLS got the day off to a flying start. These habitats are available all along the Overstrand seashore.
THE DANGER POINT COASTLINE: All cormorants, but BANK, the gulls, thousands of swirling terns and a variety of fairly common waders are available here, but the highlight was certainly droves of AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER nests all long the shore. Such a pity that despite signs erected by the Overstrand municipality to request people to stay clear of the nests, there were local people gathering bait right at some of these nests – we still have a long way to go as far as environmental education is concerned.
THE POPLAR GROVE AT THE ENTRANCE TO FLOWER VALLEY: Brummer was knocking on wood and soon three woodpeckers appeared within a minute of each other: CARDINAL, OLIVE and KNYSNA showed themselves perfectly, not to mention most local canaries, flycatchers and buzzards. What an experience – this spot remains one of my first choices for birding in southern Africa!
THE VAN BRAKEL'S STORE INTERSECTION AND THE FIRST FOUR KILOMETERS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE OUDEKRAAL ROAD: I have to drive to Bredasdorp for work purposes at least once a week and I have realized that the roughly three square kilometers around the intersection between the R316 and the R326 affords one the quickest summery of Overberg's LBG's and many other avian delights. Within an absolute maximum of ten kilometers driven yesterday we found (inter alia) all of our region's cisticolas, RED-CAPPED and LARGE-BILLED LARK, our local bishops, AFRICAN and LONG-BILLED PIPITS, CAPPED WHEATEAR, PIED STARLING, several chats and most of our local swallows, swifts and martins. Highlight: a pair of LESSER STRIPED SWALLOWS, previously considered not to be an Overberg bird. Not to mention the BLUE CRANE and a wide selection of waterbirds. An total hotbed of Western Cape endemics.
FERNKLOOF NATURE RESERVE: We spent lunch here and were rather paranoid given recent burglaries into vehicles and serious muggings in this magnificent reserve. We were able to see most of the “fynbos specials” though. I am currently researching this sad state of affairs related to criminals impacting on our right to watch birds and to enjoy nature and will report on this soon.
We had an outstanding day birding in the Overstrand and will do this again and again. Elaine and myself had our annual holiday recently and took a decision to do three half a day's worth of birding in the three sections of the Overstrand municipal area and will report on this over the festive season. Have a good one.