7 TO 9 JUNE: HOUTKAPPERSPOORT MOUNTAIN RESORT
Elaine and myself spent a few days with Charles and Colleen Naude at the Houtkapperspoort Mountain Resort in the Hout Bay valley. Our plan was to visit several of the peninsula's top birding destinations and for Charles to join some other members and friends on a pelagic bird outing with Trevor Hardaker of Zest for Birds. We do not have the time to report on all of our visits and outings comprehensively and only give some brief observations. The weather was dreadful not allowing us to go to all the places that we wanted to, but at least this let us watch the two tennis finals and the Springboks in front of a warm fireplace.
Houtkapperspoort was a huge suprise. The chalets are beautifully and practically appointed with most of the modcons needed and the gardens are simply gorgeous. Massive old trees and lots of shrubs and thickets should make for great birding – the species mentioned herewith are just some of those that we enjoyed seeing in trying conditions. This venue is centrally positioned for visits to many of the peninsula's top birding hotspots and we have little doubt that this will be the venue for one of the club's future midweek breakaways. (Colleen and Elaine also believe that it will be great to be used as base to take in movies or shows or to visit several of the fantastic markets in the area.)
SOME GREAT SPECIES SEEN: African Dusky Flycatcher, African Harrier-Hawk, Fiery-necked Nightjar, Black Sparrowhawk and Olive Woodpecker
FRIDAY 6 JUNE: CAPE OF GOOD HOPE NATURE RESERVE
On Friday morning we went to Cape Point and really enjoyed a slow drive past the Constantia Greenbelts and False Bay. What a beautiful country we live in! At the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve we spent most of our time along the road to the Olifantsbos Point and Charles had a great time photographing most of the fynbos specials on view here. There were huge numbers of tourists at the point enjoying the excellent views out to sea and over False Bay. No tourist went to the he lighthouse on foot due to the blustery conditions and most used the Flying Dutchman funicular.
From here we returned to Hout Bay via Scarborough, Kommetjie, Noordhoek and the spectacular Chapman's Peak drive. The southern peninsual is always worth a visit and the birding potential highly underrated.
SOME GREAT SPECIES SEEN: Cape Gannet, Cape Grassbird, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird.
SATURDAY 7 JUNE: INTAKA ISLAND, CENTURY CITY
I had to attend the Western Cape Birding Forum meeting at Intaka Island and went there early to do some birding and check out some details for the text for the City of Cape Town birdfinder web-page descriptions. Intaka (“bird” in Xhosa), is a 16 ha sprawling series of wetlands in the heart of Century City and beside the Canal Walk shopping mall. It contains four permanent and one seasonal wetland with marked trails and two hides. Close up viewing and photography of breeding waterbirds is possible. This is a wonderful example of a rehabilitated urban wetland where nature lovers can just get away from busy city life. Birding here never disappoints and the photographic opportunities are often outstanding.
SOME GREAT SPECIES SEEN: Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, Black-crowned Night-Heron and African Purple Swamphen.
SATURDAY 7 JUNE: PELAGIC OUTING WITH TREVOR HARDAKER OF ZEST FOR BIRDS
Earlier the morning I took Charles to the Hout Bay harbour from where they departed on the pelagic cruise. Read Richard's report and enjoy his spectacular images at the following link:
SOME GREAT SPECIES SEEN BY THE GROUP: Black-browed, Indian Yellow-nosed and Shy Albatrosses, Pintado and White-chinned Petrels, Antarctic Prion, Great and Sooty Shearwaters and Wilson's Storm-Petrel.
SUNDAY 8 JUNE: FALSE BAY ECOLOGY PARK
Charles and myself left early to visit the Strandfontein sewage works and Rondevlei Nature Reserve. Conditions were once again not ideal for birding and we spent most of our time taking photographs from the vehicle. The CAPE FLATS WASTE WATER TREATMENT WORKS, or simply STRANDFONTEIN as it is known to birders, forms part of the FALSE BAY ECOLOGY PARK and is registered as an IMPORTANT BIRD AREA. Birding opportunities here are outstanding for both novice bird-watchers and serious twitchers alike. Vast numbers of shore and waterbirds are on view seasonally (more than 200 species of which 11 are red data species have been recorded and 30,000 birds have been counted in one summer) – little wonder that Strandfontein is regarded as one of the top birding destinations in the Western Cape. A further advantage is that a visit here can comfortably be combined with birding at the adjacent Rondevlei Nature Reserve. The weather had turned ugly by the time we reached Rondevlei and very few birds were on display. Little doubt however that this birding destination will have vast potential in less trying conditions. Rondevlei Nature Reserve allows for casual birding as the pathways taking one from one hide and viewing deck to the other are clearly marked and not strenuous at all. A small museum is situated close to the entrance, together with picnic and public toilet facilities. Boat trips are also available allowing for closer views of the bird colonies on the islands.
GREAT SPECIES SEEN: Pied Avocet, Greater Flamingo, Black-necked Grebe, Glossy Ibis, Great White Pelican and African Purple Swamphen.
The bad weather could not hide the vast birding potential at so many top birding destinations in the Cape Town peninsula. These destinations should be marketed far more meaningfully and it is hoped that the project that we are currently busy with will contribute significantly to this.