We are at Nature's Valley with 19 (mostly) BirdLife Overberg members. On two mornings at 05h00 I took out some participants on a dawn chorus patrol to the Grootrivier boardwalk and trail. One cannot do justice to these unbelievable experiences with such brief reports as birding continued throughout the days – herewith merely a short name-dropping exercise. In both cases the cacophony started with the CHORISTER ROBIN-CHATS and CAPE WHITE-EYES all around us. The robin-chats caused total confusion as a variety of mimic attempts of many other species made it almost impossible to identify anything. We gradually started getting positive identification on some species as the dark subsided.
My favourite - Lawaaimaker Janfrederik (Chorister Robin-Chat)
AFRICAN WOOD-OWL and SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL caused excitement, but this was soon followed by the BUFF-SPOTTED FLUFFTAIL foghorn and to crown it all a momentary sighting as it moved across the boardwalk. And soon there were BAR-THROATED APALIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, SOMBRE GREENBUL, BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE and KNYSNA TURACO everywhere, causing a constant din deep in the forests.
Other fairly common species that were spotted included CAPE BATIS, TERRESTRIAL BROWN-BUL, GREEN-BACKED CAMEROPTERA, FOREST CANARY, BLUE-MANTLED CRESTED-FLYCATCHER, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, AFRICAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER, BLACK-BELLIED STARLING, OLIVE THRUSH, GREEN WOODHOOPOE and OLIVE WOODPECKER . A variety of sunbirds were seen including both DOUBLE-COLLARED variaties and AMETHYST, GREY and COLLARED SUNBIRDS.
Birds that were heard, but not seen included OLIVE BUSH-SHRIKE, KLAAS'S CUCKOO, PIET-MY-VROU, NARINA TROGON and KNYSNA WOODPECKER. SCALY-THROATED HONEYGUIDES were calling constantly and we were eventually rewarded with a clear sighting. This was soon followed by sightings of both BROWN-BACKED HONEYBIRD and LESSER HONEYGUIDE. This morning an AFRICAN EMERALD CUCKOO called for a long time and Charles managed to get a good view (as well as photograpahs) of it. The intense colouration of this birds simply blew us all away. Another wonderful find was the positive identification of a BLACK CUCKOO – a great find in the Western Cape.
But these dawn patrols are not just about spotting birds. The atmosphere in the forest with the sun gradually filtering through the leaves of ancient yellowwoods cannot be described in words and needs to be experienced. Little wonder that both Charles and nine-year-old Tristan came along on both mornings. This brief description clearly illustrates the vast birding potential of the Nature's Valley region. This is certainly one of the top birding destinations in the Western Cape Province as far as forest species are concerned.
(I will attempt to describe these dawn patrol outings in more detail once we return to Hermanus).