Posted on the 10th September 2020

Representatives of CapeNature requested BirdLife Overberg to undertake regular quarterly CWACs (Co-ordinated WAterbird Counts) at the De Hoop Nature Reserve. Preliminary discussions were undertaken and yesterday Klaas, Linda, Carin and Anton visited the reserve to investigate the sites from which these counts should be undertaken. Alexis Olds guided us through the area and we were fortunate to be shown sections of the reserve that are not accessible to members of the public.

Carin and I decided to make the best of the day’s outing and also recorded all the species seen on the day. The Overberg wheatfields are at its most beautiful at the moment and we were able to record many of the sought-after species to be expected in the region. Blue Cranes were out in force and most of the LBJs and canaries were seen. Some of the intra-African migrants have arrived and we saw the Yellow-billed Kite and some swallows.

Spotted Thick-knee
Capped Wheatear












Alexis served as an entertaining and knowledgeable guide after we met her at the Soutrivier. We approached the reserve from the northern side not known to any of us and we were blown away by some of the geological formations. We hiked a long way along the Soutrivier where it enters the vlei and were exposed to excellent birding. The river produced species such as Hamerkop, African Fish Eagle, African Black Duck, Cape Teal and many more. The trail runs along hills that are covered in indigenous forest and heavy thickets and the calls of Southern Boubou, Olive Bush-Shrike, Cape Bunting, Brown-hooded Kingfisher and most of the common birds to be expected in such thickets were heard. 

Alexis along the inlet of the Soutrivier
Rank vegetation along the Soutrivier








We then travelled quite a distance over very rocky (and bumpy) roads to observe this section of the vlei from another point in case low-water bridges are flooded when we need to do a count. The birding here was outstanding as we added brilliant species such as Cape Grassbird, Greater Honeyguide, Fairy Flycatcher, Cardinal Woodpecker and Klaas’s Cuckoo to our list, but most excitingly Klaas (excuse that one) and Linda found a Hottentot Buttonquail strolling over the two-wheel track in front of their vehicle.

We then went to the more accessible sites along the vlei from where we need to do counts. All of these sites are at higher vantage points and allow for marvellous views across the water mass. There were huge numbers of birds at some of these sites – the two flamingo species, pelicans, cormorants, terns, waders, too many to mention in a report of this nature. We also studied the aerial photos of the vlei to make sure of the exact spots from which the counts need to be undertaken. Final arrangements are currently being discussed with the first quarterly count to be undertaken sometime in October. Details of this will follow.

View from one of the vantage points
Pied Starling








In the end we managed to record an impressive 105 species on a “working day” pushing the BirdLife Overberg monthly count for September up to 184 species – not too shabby at all. This certainly shows that the De Hoop Nature Reserve is a hugely underrated birding destination and we are really looking forward to these counts in future. We thank Alexis Olds and Kevin Shaw of CapeNature for this opportunity.

10 September 2020.

Beautiful geological formation. David will have to explain this one - one wonders what breeds in there













Hundreds of birds on an island in the vlei


















GARY BAUMGARTEN (posted: 2020-09-11 09:48:41)
Would love to be part of these counts please Anton