THE MORNING OF 1 JANUARY 2014: BIRDING AT ROOIELS AND STONY POINT
We have been birding several of the top birding destination along the Cape Whale Coast and have previously posted reports on Onrus and Swartrivier, as well as the area between Stanford and Danger Point. Dawid and Carin Malan and Elaine and myself decided to go out early on New Year's morning and explore the birding delights of ROOIELS and STONY POINT.
We reached Rooiels at around 08h00 and slowly started strolling down the dirt track. It was one of those few and far between champagne Western Cape mornings. Not a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind and the fynbos was brilliant after all the rains we've had this year. And the birds were out in force: a pair of GREY-BACKED CISTICOLAS was involved in courtship displays that we had never witnessed before. Large numbers of CAPE BUNTING, FAMILIAR CHAT, CAPE GRASSBIRD, KAROO PRINIA, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH, CAPE SUGARBIRD, ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD, the list just goes on. It was astonishing to see how many endemics and near-endemics were on display in this relatively small area. We unfortunately missed out on Victorin's Warbler and Ground Woodpecker.
Young Black Eagle flying against the sun
For more than an hour we watched a pair of VERREAUX'S EAGLES gliding along the cliffs with an extremely vocal juvenile bird in hot pursuit. An image of the young bird created very interesting responses and debate on Facebook. Wonderful to watch such a spectacle!
The mission of the morning however was to find CAPE ROCK-JUMPERS, that would have been lifers for Dawid and Carin. We walked for a very long time and it was becoming VERY hot and thoughts of turning back started entering our minds. We were well on our way to HANGKLIP when the birds were located. There were three birds present, the one being a juvenile and they were gradually moving from the area below the cliffs towards the road. They would sit on the rocks, drop down into the fynbos, disappearing from sight only to re-appear again a few yards away. At other time the would fly for about ten to fifteen yards from one rock to another, but gradually they kept on moving in our direction. Dawid went up the hill and started photographing the birds and our excitement reached fever pitch when on bird landed some ten yards from us and offered a variety of poses. Breath-taking stuff!!!!!!! We include several of our images:
This experience basically took all our motivation to bird for the day away and we decided to go to Stony Point before having lunch at HAROLD PORTER. Stony Point was a revelation as huge numbers of visitors were present here – great to think that this destination has now become so popular, even though this is not condusive for slow birding. The moulting AFRICAN PENGUINS are a pityful sight and the vast numbers of CAPE CORMORANTS present yesterday were simply overwhelming.
(We will merge our four reports on birding in the Overstrand during the Festive Season at some later stage. Images used by Carin, Dawid and Anton. - Ed.)