Posted on the 22nd November 2014

The first BirdLife Overberg BIRP count was highly successful and enjoyable ¬ great forest birding so close to Hermanus. Keir stated “imagine what the dawn chorus here must sound like”, not realising that he would be taken up on it. This morning we got up at three and got together at the CapeNature offices at four, ultimately reaching the Platbos Forest in the Gansbaai district just before five. Keir was still busy with his orientation to the site when all hell broke loose.

Keir giving his introduction
Bunch of loonies













CAPE BATISES, SOUTHERN BOUBOUS, OLIVE BUSH-SHRIKES, SOMBRE GREENBULS, AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHERS, CAPE ROBIN-CHATS, OLIVE THRUSHES and CAPE WHITE-EYES were some of the species that joined in on the cacophony. In the distance BURCHELL'S COUCAL, AFRICAN GOSHAWK and a SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL added other sounds to the party. A remarkable experience, but as Chris stated somewhat confusing as eventually one did not know what to listen at as it was all a beautiful mess. This lasted for about fifteen minutes and then sanity returned as it became light.

Sombre Greenbul  Image: Carin
Karoo Prinia    Image: Carin










The trail through the forest then started producing some wonderful birding experiences. Keir had two target species in BUFF-SPOTTED FLUFFTAIL and TAMBOURINE DOVE, both of which had been recorded at WITKRANS, about five hundred yards down the road. First we heard the unique mournful call of the flufftail to the delight of everyone present. Keir used play-back sparingly and at one stage we were convinced that the bird was within meters from us ¬ one could hear it in the leaf litter. Ripper!!!!!!!!!! Almost immediately Carin picked up the slow call of the TAMBOURINE DOVE, that then picks up speed before ending. We also spent a lot of time at an AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER nest. Soon afterwards we heard BLUE CRANES flying overhead, found a flock of AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEONS in a tree and then the distinct single note 'skree' of a KNYSNA WOODPECKER. Overberg forest birding at its best!

Dusky Flycatcher on nest



















We eventually reached the firebreak where bird-watching became less hectic and far more casual and relaxed. Some of the common species encountered here included BAR-THROATED APALIS, CAPE BULBUL, CAPE CANARY, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, KAROO PRINIA and two sunbirds. Also great to see good numbers of BARN SWALLOWS. This area was however dominated by sightings of raptors. A rufous-phased young BLACK SPARROWHAWK was a delight to see, an AFRICAN GOSHAWK gave great views up in the sky so that we all could study its short, broad wings and long tail and then Keir flushed a BARN OWL for all to see. A STEPPE BUZZARD flew past and shortly thereafter we saw a browner, more rufous buzzard sitting on a tree. Again a steppe? Closer inspection however revealed bright yellow cere and gape and a paler eye ¬ an immature JACKAL BUZZARD. As it took off it confirmed the identification when it joined a sub-adult bird in the skies.

Steppe Buzzard 1   Image: Riaan
Steppe Buzzard 2     Image: Riaan










These wonderful few hours again confirmed that bird-watching is about the quality of experiences, rather than the numbers seen. More information on Platbos can be obtained from our previous report on birding at this destination at the following link:

Our discussions over breakfast and well-deserved coffee resulted in a few interesting decisions: 1. Carin, Ilse, Chris and myself will start our Birding Big Day effort in this beautiful valley, and yes, you've guessed it, with another dawn patrol. 2. The dawn chorus outing should become an annual event. 3. Sleepovers at Platbos should be seriously considered as it would be great waking up to this cacophony. 4. We wonder how many more of these birding gems there are in the Overberg?

Ou man se baard     Image: Carin












Our next BIRP count will be on Wednesday 3 December to the De Mond Nature Reserve. We will meet at 07h30 at the CapeNature offices from where transport will be arranged. Bring a picnic basket. RSVP: Anton at 082 550 3347 or

Our sincere appreciation to Keir Lynch of CapeNature for setting this outing up and adding such quality to our bird-watching experiences.

Ramerons for Africa   Image: Carin
Olive Thrush at nest











DI PARKER (posted: 2014-11-24 10:32:15)
Hi Anton
Great morning, so glad I took part, even tho' I missed the rest. Thanks for organising it.
DEBBIE ALEXANDER (posted: 2014-11-23 22:05:35)
Thanks Anton and Keir
For those who slept in, you missed a great morning! I can't make the 3rd unfortunately.