Posted on the 7th November 2012


I used to go to Bredasdorp once a week for several years in the past. Conditions were never optimal for birding as the sun was in front of me going there and coming back home. I did however decide from early on to count bird species to break the boredom of driving at relatively high speeds. The numbers I kept revealed two clear patterns - a winter score and a summer score with changing patterns during autumn and spring. The winter counts had the following averages: By the time I reached Stanford I was on 19 species, at the van Brakel junction 25, at Napier 32 and Bredasdorp 40. I never reached 60 species upon my return to Onrus in winter. Summer counts went something like this: Stanford 30, Van Brakel junction 40, Napier 50 and Bredasdorp 60 species. My summer average upon my return to Onrus stood on 78 species.

Pied Starling
African Stonechat











Yesterday, 6 November, (more than two years since I stopped going to Bredasdorp regularly) I had to attend several meetings in Bredasdorp and Agulhas. True to habit I had to keep my little tape recorder busy again. This is how it went: at Stanford I was on 31 species, van Brakel junction 42, Napier 51 and Bredasdorp 64. Nothing has changed, in fact there was an uncanny similarity to species that I always found in the past. There were Greater Flamingos on the Kleinrivier estuary, Red-winged Starlings just outside Hermanus, Cape Sugarbirds in the Fynbos on the left and Forest, Jackal and Steppe Buzzards before I reached Stanford. Little Grebe on the ponds on the left just before the village. Blue Cranes within three km. from Stanford and Black-shouldered Kites before the cheese factory. I also always found African Stonechat and Pied Starling at the Oudekraal turnoff. Napier was the same: Cape Teal and Black-winged Stilt at the sewage works, Diederick and Red-chested Cuckoos calling in the blue gum trees as one enters the village and Southern Masked-Weavers breeding in the reeds as one exists and Rock Martins over the river. Totally weird that everything seems to remain the same.

Agulhas Long-billed Lark


Denham's Bustards







Elaine usually prepared a packed lunch for me and this I enjoyed while driving slowly to the Nachtwacht Guest House on the Arniston road and back. I drove this again yesterday and true to form everything still remained the same. There were Crowned Lapwings in the first field on the left, Denham's Bustards in the third field, many Blue Cranes, Cape Crows, Hadedas and Egyptian Geese and Agulhas Long-billed, Cape Clapper and Large-billed Larks. The Capped Wheatears were displaying yesterday – what a wonderful sight! The African Darter was still perched on the same tree trunk after all these years. Upon my return to Bredasdorp I literally burst out laughing when I found a Red-capped Lark at the same intersection as one enters the town. I told Rory Allardice about these uncanny similarities and he was of the opinion that this probably indicates stable environmental conditions and a lack of degradation. I will forward this lot to a few ornithologists and ask them to comment on it.

White Stork


Glossy Ibis







Then I drove to Agulhas along the R319 and experienced a feast of water birds. The Heuningnes River has flooded and some of the areas literally look like floodplains. There were good numbers of White Storks, Sacred and (many) Glossy Ibis, lots of egrets and herons, ducks aplenty and a Greater Painted-snipe flew past at breakneck speed. There were also many raptors along this road including Black Harrier, African Marsh-Harrier and Black Sparrowhawk. Rory told me that the Nuwejaars River system is similarly brilliant at the moment and Emmerentia de Kock of SANParks believes that the salt pan is the best that it has ever been, with droves of flamingos and waders aplenty. Many years ago Elaine and myself visited the Agulhas Country House and at that stage the owner was very proud of a pair of Rock Kestrels that started breeding in his roof. Guess what was on the roof as I drove past there yesterday? Two immature Rock Kestrels!

The Cape Agulhas region must certainly be the most underrated birding region in the Western Cape Province and needs far more publicity. Go there now before the water recedes. My count for the day stood on 92 species by the time I returned home – keep in mind that this happened at relatively high speeds. What an enjoyable and rewarding day's birding! (Images not taken yesterday)

Young Rock Kestrel


Capped Wheatear


























LESLEY RICHARDSON (posted: 2012-11-07)
Thanks for that great trip report Anton.
Truly a birderís paradise! Hopefully we can find a way to get the info out more widely through a joint effort on the Agulhas Plain.
Kind regards
Lesley Richardson