(Melanie Honicke reports on a visit to Jessie Walton's farm at Grabouw). Yesterday morning’s outing (21 June 2008) was a huge success with a bird count of 45, at the dam and afterwards in the gardens at the farm. Only four of us went, being myself, Frank, Bob and Mike and the birding was excellent. Jessie has done a wonderful job with the bird hide and in creating the Goedehoop Bird Reserve. She is busy constructing a platform on the one side towards the middle section of the dam, which will also be excellent for photography purposes. We had just arrived at the dam around 08h30, when the Little Bittern made his appearance and we were able to view him for the better part of an hour. The Black Crakes were plentiful as well as the Cape Reed Warbler (we heard the African Sedge Warbler but didn’t see it). Other special sightings were an Olive Woodpecker, a Purple Heron, a Malachite Kingfisher and a pair of Giant Kingfishers. We also saw numerous Malachite Sunbirds and Lesser Double-collared Sunbirds as well as Cape Weavers, Cape Bulbuls, Cape White Eyes, Karoo Prinea’s, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Zitting Cisticola, Common and Swee Waxbills, Cape Wagtail, Cape Sparrow, Cape Robin, Olive Thrush, Fiscal Shrike, Fiscal Flycatcher, Brimstone Canary, Dusky Flycatcher, Speckled Mousebird, Bar-throated Apalis, the African Pipit and a female Yellow-rumped Widow. We also had a good look at a Jackal Buzzard flying overhead. Another special sighting was the Southern Grey-headed Sparrow.
Jessie says we are welcome to visit the hide at any time, but mentioned that the birding is definitely better in the early mornings. I wouldn’t encourage large numbers (5 to 6 maximum) as the bird hide is quite small and you would need to take your own chair until the seating has been completed.