(Kindly note that I have now also loaded Carin's brilliant images of the red dizas at the bottom of the artilce. - Anton)
In search ...............................
Near perfect camouflage
BirdLife Overberg’s first morning outing of the year on 21 January took us to Rooiels, Stony Point and the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. It was fairly cloudy with a gentle breeze early in the morning, a welcome relief of the heat of the last week. Richard, Carin, Dawid and myself went to Rooiels early in the morning hoping for some good photographic opportunities. Richard and myself got a fleeting glimpse of a single CAPE ROCK-JUMPER when we started at the entrance gate, but it strangely flew off towards the back of the top row of houses. We worked the area extensively and were able to see many of the regular species such as GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, FAMILIAR CHAT, CAPE GRASSBIRD, ROCK KESTREL, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH, CAPE SUGARBIRD, large numbers of ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRDS and VICTORIN'S WARBLER.
White-necked Raven feeding young
The heat increased dramatically by the time the rest of the group (totaling 19) arrived and birding became more difficult. A word of welcome is extended to Hugo and Vivie who took part in a morning outing for the first time. Most of the group still need both the CAPE ROCK-JUMPER and GROUND WOODPECKER for their lifelist and it proved to be another frustrating morning for these members as the birds were nowhere to be seen. Reactions included 'it's a myth, the bird does not exist', 'I'm never going there again' and 'maybe we should try going there in the late afternoon, photographic opportunities will be better anyway'. The latter should probably be considered as I am at present having to answer several 'where do we find the RJ's?' from birders planning visits to our shores during February.
I personally believe that the Rooiels site remains a TOP BIRDING DESTINATION, regardless of the RJ. I left there having seen 42 species and if one considers the species 'name-dropped' above (and the endemic status of most of them) then one realises that many birders from elsewhere would jump at the opportunity to bird there. Maybe we are just spoilt?
Many penguins are moulting
From here we went to Stony Point and stand-out species included ALL FIVE SOUTH AFRICAN CORMORANTS!!!, AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER, AFRICAN PENGUIN and at least three TERNS. Many of the penguins were still moulting and made for a sorry sight. One in particular did not look at all well and this caused major debates. The endangered BANK CORMORANTS are still breeding and created great entertainment. Stony Point remains one of the Western Cape's most important birding assets: it is very well maintained and managed by the Overstrand Municipality and Elaine commented on the good number of foreign visitors that we engaged with on the boardwalks.
Bank Cormorant bringing in nesting material ..............
... and landing at the nest
Most members had run out of steam by the time we reached the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, although most of the group trekked up Diza Kloof in search of the Red Diza that is in bloom up at the waterfall at this time of year. An experience to behold. A few members (I nogal assumed non-Western Province or Stormers supporters) stayed behind in the comfort of the patio at the restaurant and did some casual birding in that area. Good species that were seen by the entire group included CAPE BATIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, BLACK SAWWING, CAPE SISKIN and SWEE WAXBILL.
Part of the group at Harold Porter
Sandwich Tern (note yellow tip on bill)
The diversity of habitats represented by these three top birding destinations in the Overstrand really makes for very good birding for a day outing and the consensus was that each one of these in its own right deserves to be visited for a morning outing. This particular morning outing turned into a day outing as most of us went to the new 'waterfront' development at Kleinmond for a well-deserved lunch, resulting in us only getting back home after 16h00. The jury is out on the Kleinmond development and will be debated for a very long time.
All in all though it was a wonderful day's birding that gave us good sightings of many of the species that makes the Western Cape such a top birding destination. That is now if one forgets about that 'mythical bird'. Maybe next time chaps.
Images by Carin & Dawid Malan, Richard Masson and Anton Odendal