Posted on the 20th November 2018

Eighteen BirdLife Overberg members again spent five days at Kostaplentie, the fantasic Nature's Valley home of Buks and Annette de la Rey. The buildings are well appointed and marvelously equipped and serve as a perfect base for exploring birds in the area. One always gets the feeling of “being in the forest” at Kostaplentie and this makes for outstanding birding. The braai area is ideal for a group of this size and most evenings were spent socialising around the fire. 

At the fire at Kostaplentie
Ross, Willemien, Tommy and Mark











The birding in this garden was however the highlight of our stay, although it was not as good as January 2015 when the Milkwood trees had fruit. The upper deck allowed for wonderful birding in the forest canopy and the garden. The sunbirds were particularly attracted to the garden and during the week we were able to identify AMETHYST, GREATER and SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED, GREY and MALACHITE SUNBIRDS. Other species that regularly used the trees included CAPE BATIS, FORK-TAILED DRONGO, SOMBRE GREENBUL, BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE, BLACK-BELLIED STARLING and CAPE WHITE-EYE.

Female S Double-collared Sunbird at ringing session


Female Cape Batis










Birds heard continually (and seen often) included BAR-THROATED APALIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, OLIVE BUSH-SHRIKE, AFRICAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER, BLACK-BACKED PUFFBACK and KNYSNA TURACO. Other species included GREEN-BACKED CAMEROPTERA, AFRICAN GOSHAWK and OLIVE WOODPECKER. My favourites however were a pair of AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHERS that were preparing a nest in a hole in a tree trunk some 2 metres from our vantage point on the deck. CHORISTER ROBIN-CHAT made for great fun at the end of each day as they mimicked away giving real meaning to their Lawaaimakerjanfrederik name in Afrikaans. We also often heard AFRICAN BLACK OYSTER-CATCHERS calling as they flew past along the beach some hundred yards away. This certainly is garden birding at its best!

Our flycatcher preparing the nest
Piet, the resident loerie









We spent a lot of time birding along the Grootrivier boardwalk. There were droves of BAR-THROATED APALIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE, KNYSNA TURACO and SOMBRE GREENBUL everywhere, causing a constant din in the forests. Other fairly common species that were encountered included noisy CHORISTER ROBIN-CHATS, GREEN WOODHOOPOE and OLIVE and KNYSNA WOODPECKERS. Specials for us Hermanus birders included TERRESTRIAL BROWN-BUL, OLIVE BUSH-SHRIKE, BLACK and GREY CUCKOO-SHRIKES and LESSER and SCALY-THROATED HONEYGUIDES.

The early morning hike produced rippers such as FOREST CANARY, BLUE-MANTLED CRESTED-FLYCATCHER, KLAAS'S CUCKOO, AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON and PIET-MY-VROU. We also heard the calls of TAMBOURINE DOVE and NARINA TROGON, but were unfortunately unable to get sightings of them. The same applies to the AFRICAN EMERALD CUCKOO that was calling continually and Elaine and I spent a few hours trying to locate the bird in the treetops, but with no luck.

The most popular sighting of the week was of the nest with two chicks of a CAPE BATIS pair that was discovered close to the road near the bridge. There were hundreds of photographs taken of the feeding activity and we are looking forward to receiving images of the action!









On Tuesday morning we were again fortunate to attend a ringing session by Dr Mark Brown and his colleagues from the Nature’s Valley Trust. Mark’s patience and calm attitude blew the group away, particularly those who had not attended a ringing session before. And watching those faces as they hold the birds before releasing it is always something to behold. Mark then visited us at Kostaplentie to give a brilliant illustrated talk on latest developments regarding AFRICAN PENGUIN conservation. Many thanks Mark! I also chucked in the latest edition of my brood parasite talk on Thursday afternoon.

Kostaplentie also serves as a perfect base from which to explore the birding delights of surrounding areas. Several members visited the dam at Kurland Estate where AFRICAN JACANA chicks caused a huge sensation – a wonderful breeding record for the Western Cape Province. Others visited the Tsitsikamma National Park and Birds of Eden and came away with great birding experiences.

Dr Mark Brown at the ringing session
Part of the group








We were able to positively identify 107 species at Nature's Valley of which 48 were seen at Kostaplentie garden as such. The list is available from us. The entire trip produced 147 species of which a BLACK-CHESTED SNAKE-EAGLE outside Swellendam was the most exciting for me.

But these outings are not just about birding. The early morning atmosphere in the forests with the sun gradually filtering through the leaves of ancient yellowwoods cannot be described in words and needs to be experienced. And the sense of cameraderie around the fire is simply wonderful – not to mention all the laughs. Little wonder that several of us described sadness and nostalgia when we had to leave Nature's Valley. 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. We will create a photo gallery of the trip once we have received images from all the participants.

Our appreciation to all participants who contributed to making this such a memorable week. We also thank Buks and Annette de la Rey for the use of Kostaplenti. We'll be back.

Brimstone Canary
Forest Canary








The beautiful Groot River
En daar was soms gebraai ook









CARIN MALAN (posted: 2018-11-21 08:24:13)
Wow, what an amazing trip you guys had !! 48 species in a garden !!!!!! Thank you for sharing. xc