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DAY OUTING TO DE HOOP NATURE RESERVE

Posted on the 7th October 2006

(We recently found this historic report in an old newsletter and thought that it would worth uploading. - Ed.)  The van Hoogstraten's were the highest bidders for a full day birding outing in the Overberg at the CleanMarine auction and Elaine and myself took them to De Hoop on Saturday 7 October 2006. Cecily Trumpelmann, Frank Spratt and Chris, a Chilean friend of Frank's joined us for the day. We were blessed with fantastic birding weather for most of the day. We stopped off at one of our favourite spots – a little bridge over the Kleinriver. There were droves of Swallows, Swifts and Martins and most of our region's LBJ's – we will return here soon to try our hand at photographing some of these.

Our tempo was destroyed by the Foot of Africa Marathon as there were thousands of athletes on the road between Napier and Bredasdorp. This was a stop-start affair, our highest speed was 20 km. per hour and birding was out of the question on this stretch. Carol and Cecily launched into hilarious and sometimes crazy running commentary of participants in the marathon and the tone was set for a birding outing with a difference. The group decided unanimously to take in breakfast in Bredasdorp and this led to a further 90 minutes of getting to know each other and talking very little ornithological.

The serious birding started after Bredasdorp and we were now down to snails pace. (We reached De Hoop only after 12h00!)

Black-crowned Night-Heron

The advantage of this style of birding is that we discovered one of the true gems of birding in the Overberg: the dirt road between Bredasdorp and De Hoop. The Capped Wheatears were performing all over and this re-affirmed Elaine's belief that this is one of her favourite birds. We were able to study the antics and song of Cape Clapper, Large-billed, Agulhas Long-billed and Red-capped Larks, as well as African and Long-billed Pipits. We all learnt a lot about LBJ's. One of the reedbeds along a river afforded us the opportunity to take in the frenetic courtship behaviour of Weavers and Bishops and also gave us species such as African Spoonbills, Black-crowned Night-Heron and the first Common (Steppe) Buzzards of the season. A few other selected specials on this road included Common Quail, Blue Cranes, Denham's Buzzard and Karoo Korhaan. Moral of the story? We often race to top birding destinations and do not take in the wonderful birding opportunities that most rural roads have to offer.

De Hoop is currently lush and green and the vlei is full to its brim. We were advised not to go down to Koppie-alleen due to the condition of the road after the floods and promptly decided to take in Elaine's lavish lunch in the picnic area. Underneath a milkwood tree we were entertained by Weavers, Boubous, Bokmakieries, a Cardinal and many more. Most of these birds were ringed and we decided that Mike must have spent quite some time here recently. We also saw our first Barn Swallows of the summer.

It was only then that Elaine figured that BLO has not been to De Hoop in more than a year and it was decided immediately that a club weekend outing is again in the offing. De Hoop remains one of our top birding destinations. This was not a twitching outing, although we saw more than 100 species when we drew up a list that evening – birding is such a wonderful way of spending a day and as we saw again there are so many ways of doing it. (We decided it certainly beats running marathons).

Anton

Capped Wheatear


Agulhas Long-billed Lark


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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