BirdLife Overberg’s morning outing on 24 March took us to Rooiels and the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, while a few of us popped into Stony Point briefly. We welcomed new-comers including Astrid, Vera, James, Ken and Manie and his enthusiastic son to our activities. The weather was beautiful, even though partially cloudy and many participants commented about the surprising lack of wind at Rooiels. We were delighted that for a start WHITE-NECKED RAVENS were chasing a pair of VERREAUX’S EAGLES around “False Hangklip”. Carin displayed her usual patience by trying to point out the eagle nest up against the cliffs. We initially picked out the CAPE BUNTING, FAMILIAR CHAT, CAPE SUGARBIRD and large numbers of ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRDS. We then experienced a lean period with the odd GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA and SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLOURED SUNBIRDS showing well. We eventually managed to find a group of four CAPE ROCK-JUMPERS a long way down the road and strangely enough below the road towards the sea.
Three of us then returned to the vehicle to meet up with Clifford and Beate with their friends at Harold Porter. Along the way we were delighted to record a CAPE ROCK-THRUSH and a few GROUND WOODPECKERS. We were surprised to miss out on the CAPE GRASSBIRD, ROCK KESTREL and not even a call from a VICTORIN'S WARBLER. We left there having seen just over 30 species. The rest of the group added ALPINE SWIFTS before they returned to Harold Porter. I personally believe that the Rooiels site remains a TOP BIRDING DESTINATION despite the fire that had swept through there a year ago.
At the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens nine of us slowly worked our way up to Diza Kloof. SOUTHERN BOUBOUS, SOMBRE GREENBULS, CAPE ROBIN-CHATS, and CAPE WHITE-EYES were very active and noisy while BLACK SAWWINGS swept over the lawns. We then heard the distinctive call of the AFRICAN GOSHAWK and eventually found it circling high up in the skies. LITTLE and WHITE-RUMPED SWIFTS also patrolled the skies.
The forested areas of the trail towards the waterfall however produced the goods. Good species that were seen included CAPE BATIS, KAROO PRINIA, AMETHYST and MALACHITE SUNBIRDS and SWEE WAXBILL. The second bridge across the river produced a cracking pair of AFRICAN BLACK DUCKS, together with the calls of OLIVE WOODPECKERS. The rest of the group then caught up with us and the action really started. AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHERS and AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHERS were prominent, but then we started picking up on the calls of BLUE-MANTLED CRESTED-FLYCATCHERS. This was Steve’s mission for the day – he drove all the way from Napier as he needed this lifer. Carin and Jenny (Parsons) spent a lot of time with him and they were eventually awarded with clean sightings of this elusive and hugely sought-after bird. And Steve got his photographs!!! Ultimately we were entertained by OLIVE WOODPECKERS foraging along tree trunks.
By the time we reached the gate a drizzle started and we decided to pack it in.
Jenny (Westwater), Ken and I decided to go to Stony Point anyway and Manie and his son joined us there. The AFRICAN PENGUINS are extending their digs significantly and are now well on their way to the beach area of Betty’s Bay. One can only hope that the avian flu outbreak amongst seabirds does not take hold in this important colony of critically endangered birds. The BANK, CAPE and CROWNED CORMORANTS were also on show, together with a few SWIFT TERNS. Finally we found the two target species of our conservation program – AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER and WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER.
In the end we managed to spot more than 70 species of which a whopping 30 are endemic or near-endemic. We all agreed that this was an outstanding outing, once again illustrating the vast birding potential of our region. So, if you have the slightest interest in birds and birding then this is certainly an area to investigate during the coming holiday period. Keep in mind that all the top bird-watching destinations along the Cape Whale Coast are described in detail at this link:
(Images taken previously).