BirdLife Overberg’s first weekend morning outing of the year on 21 January took us to Rooiels and the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. We welcomed 12 new-comers to our activities in a group of more than 30 birders that participated in the event. We were initially joined by about 20 Somerset West Bird Club members and they decided to go to Harold Porter first as the group would have been too big for the Rooiels site. We later saw Gerald Wingate and friend from the Tygerberg Bird Club as well. It is really great to bump into birders from other clubs and to have so many birders out there.
Part of the group at Rooiels - Anton (2)
Cape Rock-Thrush - Riaan
The weather was beautiful and many participants commented about the surprising lack of wind at Rooiels. We were fairly disappointed that no Brunias were flowering yet – four years ago these brilliant plants were in full bloom on the same date. We debated this strange phenomenon at length. For starters we picked out the CAPE BUNTING and ROCK MARTINS were present in fairly large numbers. We were delighted to find a pair of CAPE ROCK-JUMPERS fairly close to the parking area and several members were able to get their first tics and/or photographs of this special bird. Other species seen included FAMILIAR CHAT, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH, CAPE SUGARBIRD and large numbers of ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRDS and the majority on common species to be expected in this type of habitat. The most interesting sighting of the day for me involved more than two adult WHITE-NECKED RAVENS feeding youngsters. Species that we often find at Rooiels, but not yesterday included GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, CAPE GRASSBIRD, ROCK KESTREL, VICTORIN'S WARBLER and GROUND WOODPECKER .
Orange-breasted Sunbird - Riaan (4)
I personally believe that the Rooiels site remains a TOP BIRDING DESTINATION. We left there having seen 32 species and if one considers the species 'name-dropped' above (and the endemic status of most of them) then one realises that many birders from elsewhere would jump at the opportunity to bird there. Maybe we are just spoilt?
The big news of the day was that a vagrant EUROPEAN ROLLER was located between Rooiels and Pringle Bay and we obviously went looking for it. We located it immediately and most members were able to add this tic to their provincial lists and some even to their life lists. Brilliant bird to see in our neck of the woods.
Roller Traffic jam - Carin
European Roller - Louis
Brilliant European Roller - Riaan
We then moved to the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, as most members of the group wanted to hike up Diza Kloof in search of the Red Dizas that are in bloom up at the waterfall at this time of year. An experience to behold. Good species that were seen in the lower sections of the garden included CAPE BATIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, KAROO PRINIA, BLACK SAWWING, CAPE SISKIN and SWEE WAXBILL and again CAPE SUGARBIRD and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRDS. BLACK SAWWING, BARN, GREATER STRIPED and WHITE-THROATED SWALLOWS and ALPINE, LITTLE and WHITE-RUMPED SWIFTS patrolled the skies.
Karoo Prinia - Riaan
Swee Waxbills - Louis
The forested areas of the trail produced species such as FAMILIAR CHAT, SOMBRE GREENBUL, CAPE ROBIN-CHAT, SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD and CAPE WHITE-EYE. We were entertained by AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHERS and AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHERS feeding chicks and spent a lot of time studying a pair of OLIVE WOODPECKERS foraging along tree trunks. We unfortunately missed out on the BLUE-MANTLED CRESTED-FLYCATCHER, but the Somerset West group got the bragging rights on this one.
African Paradise-flycatcher male feeding - Riaan
Female feeding chick - Riaan
African Dusky Flycatcher - Riaan
African Dusky Flycatcher - Louis
Most of us then enjoyed lunch at the restaurant. This outing once again illustrated the vast birding potential of our region – this potential becomes clear even further if one reads the four outing reports that we have posted on the club website so far this year. We all agreed that this was one of the best morning outings in the club's history. We hope that we can continue with this quality of outings and that all the new participants and members will gain much enjoyment out of future events.
Brilliant Red Disa - Paula
Circles in a forest - Anton
(The committee members are currently working on a new list of exciting outings for the rest of the year and this will be announced shortly. Credit and appreciation to Louis Alberts, Paula Combrink, Riaan Jacobs, Carin Malan and Anton Odendal for the use of their photographs).