Sixteen BirdLife Overberg members, together with four from the Stanford Bird Club, went on a morning outing to the Caledon Wildflower Garden on Saturday 13 April. A beautiful day with clear skies and no wind (when the day started). I started off early and worked my way around Harderbaai. Great to still find some Common Whimbrels, as well as the normal garden birds and some of our local (and often endemic) specials. African Black Oystercatchers, Cape Cormorants, the gulls, Swift Tern and so on. The Onrus lagoon produced Black-crowned Night-Heron, as well as Black Crake and Common Moorhen feeding on the lawns. By the time we got together with the rest of the group I was on 40 species – not bad for the time of year when most of the migrants had already left.
Spotted Thick-Knee. Image: Carin
Black Sparrowhawk Image: Carin
The decision was to travel to Caledon via the Karwyderskraal and Swartrivier roads and the first bird we found was an African Goshawk perched on a telephone wire along the R43. The Karwyderskraal Road was fairly quiet , but we managed to find huge numbers of Blue Cranes, all three crows, Bokmakierie and so on. The highlight was certainly an immature Black Harrier quartering over a patch of Rhenosterveld. Dawid and Carin came from a different direction and added Burchell's Coucal and Black Sparrowhawk to the day's list.
The Swartrivier Road was once again very entertaining and created some really slow birding. It took us two hours to get from Onrus to the N2 at the Gabrielskoof winery. We managed two larks, two pipits, three cisticolas with the expected African Stonechat and Capped Wheatear. We spent a lot of time studying an adult and then later a pale immature Jackal Buzzard floating against the wind and a Lanner Falcon also made a brief appearance. The dam at Gabrielskloof also produced large number of Yellow-billed Ducks and Red-billed Teals. By the time we reached the N2 we were already on 76 species for the morning – great going for this time of year.
Adult Jackal Buzzard
Immature Jackal Buzzard
What a revelation the Caledon Wildflower Garden was! We have not been here for several years and were delighted to see that the garden is now being managed fairly well. A minimal entrance fee now applies and clearly work is being done on the the maintenance of the garden. The nectar feeders were out in force and Cape Sugarbirds and Lesser Double-collared and Malachite Sunbirds were all in various forms of preparation for the breeding season. The forest type of habitats gave us Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis, Karoo Prinia, Cape Bulbul and the to be expected Cape Robin-Chats and Olive Thrushes. Up the trails and into the hilly habitat Cape Canary, Cape Bunting, Cape Siskin, Cape Rock-Thrush, and Ingrid nearly stepped on a massive puffy. There were still a few Barn and Greater Stripped Swallows working the skies. This is certainly a hugely underestimated birding destination and several participants remarked that this is a preferred venue when compared to the more formal and well manicured Harold Porter Botanical Gardens.
Chirpy Cape Sugarbird
Part of group at Dassiesfontein Image: Waiter
The group then left for lunch, some having picnic in the garden and others going to Dassiesfontein and others to Gabrielskloof. Ingrid got an image of a Secretarybird in flight on her way back to Hermanus and in the end our combined species ended on 96 species – not to bad for the time of year when most of the migrants have left. There are so many fantastic birding destinations in close proximity to us that we need to investigate more regularly.