Elaine and myself are in beautiful Plettenberg Bay generating material for the development of a birdfinder webpage for the region. We are way too busy to draft a decent report (and there is soccer to consider) and therefore we only give some impressions of some of our highlights. Wilfred and Marcia Crous's apartment in the Goose Valley Golf Estate again serves as an ideal base to operate from. The view over the golf course and the Keurbooms River estuary is simply spectacular and the birds in the thickets around the estate marvelous. OLIVE BUSH-SHRIKE, BLACK CUCKOO-SHRIKE, BLACK-BACKED PUFFBACK, COLLARED SUNBIRD and GREEN WOOD-HOOPOE are just a few of the more than 80 species that we have seen from the veranda over the last five days. The cry of the AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE adds to the atmosphere and an OSPREY flying past at this time of year crowned it all.
On Friday I had a meeting with representatives of BirdLife Plett where it was decided that Gareth Robbins of Golden Orb Tours will prepare parts of the text. Lunch was at the Lookout Deck, our favourite eatery in Plett. The afternoon was spent along the Bitou River floodplain and as usual it impressed with the diversity of waterbirds on offer. The afternoon was ended off with tea at Sue Scheepers's Bitou River Lodge. One of THE birding destinations in the area. Read what Mike Graham had to say about birding there elsewhere under these trip reports.
On Saturday there was the first My Bird Patch count at Redford House in The Crags. I developed a cold and we did not participate in the walk as such and joined the group at 10h00. Gareth used this outing to demonstrate how My Bird Patch works and it is anticipated that these walks will be done regularly along the beautiful trails that Clive and Colleen Noble had developed on their property. We managed to add LESSER HONEYGUIDE here.
From here we went to the Tanikwa wildlife rehabilitation centre as we were invited to go on a tour of their facilities. These people are doing critical conservation and rehabilitation work and the set-up is simply very impressive and a real eye-opener. We will highlight their work soon. We had spectacular views of a FOREST BUZZARD here.
The Crags has a lot to offer birders as mixed habitats of indigenous forest, large stands of fynbos and exotics create huge species diversity. Several landowners here have developed hiking and mountain bike trails on their properties and there is a lot of exploring to be done. From previous visits to the region we were very impressed with Kurland Estate and Forest Hall and a visit to Birds of Eden is a must as one can read in several of the trip reports by BirdLife Overberg members over the years.
On Sunday we took it easy and visited the Plett sewage works and the area around Emily Moon and took a walk along the Goose Marsh. Many CAPE TEALS and a few COMMON WHIMBRELS the highlights.
This morning I took a walk through a very chilly Garden of Eden and was delighted to find KNYSNA TURACO, WHITE-STARRED ROBIN, GREEN WOOD-HOOPOE and YELLOW-FRONTED WOODLAND-WARBLER, with NARINA TROGON calling in the distance. A Drive through the Harkerville Forest to Kranshoek again confirmed that this remains one of my favourite destinations in the Plett region. The forests between these two spots must be experienced and the fynbos birding at the Kranshoek picnic site and lookout point highly recommended.
This afternoon we were invited to attend one of the shows at the Radical Raptors Rehabilitation and Awareness Centre and a short hike at Fynbos Ridge. The work being done at Radical Raptors needs to be commended and watching children being absorbed during the show a real highlight. We will report on this more extensively at some later stage.
The well kept gardens and mature fynbos at Fynbos Ridge must be experienced. The trail takes one through fynbos way over one's head and with Ericas in bloom the sunbirds were having a field day. Their brag bird is KNYSNA WOODPECKER. Spice was added by Pork Chops and friend that followed Elaine along the way. Elaine has placed this destination on the list of potential BLO break-aways. Watch this space …...
Tomorrow we're off to Nature's Valley and Tsitsikamma and so on. The Plett region has limitless potential for birding, little wonder that the Bitou local municipal region was ranked in the top three when the Western Cape municipal regions were prioritised. We'll try to add some more when we get the time.
Anton & Elaine.