Trip around the Koppies Road North of Villiersdorp on 16 February 2022
Posted on the 22nd February 2022
The day started off with a light drizzle on the way to Villiersdorp which cleared up before we reached Brandvlei. This time we decided to do the loop in a clockwise direction entering in at Moddergat Oos, then via Brandvlei and looping back to the R43 on the Villiersdorp side.
As we neared Brandvlei the calls of European Rollers filled the air, and it wasn't long before we had them circling overhead and perching on the Power Lines. The vlei itself held good numbers of all the more common water birds including African Swamphen, Glossy Ibis, Intermediate Egret, ducks, geese, grebes, spoonbills and warblers. Two small Falcons surprised us as they quickly flew past, but too fast for a photo or ID. There were no sign of the hundreds of Whiskered Terns that were breeding here last November, having already departed. A group of 5 Pearl-breasted Swallows gave great views as they perched on the roadside fence, followed by Acacia Pied Barbet and Karoo Scrub-Robin.
Continuing along the loop and into the first lot of farmlands we added Red-billed Quelea, African Reed Warbler, Southern Masked Weaver, Pin-tailed Whydah, and other common species. Our list was already well into the sixties!
We decided to stop opposite a rocky outcrop and out popped two black male Mountain Wheatears and a brownish female. It wasn't long before a Fairy Flycatcher showed itself along with Familiar Chat. Then we moved onto our 'reliable' Cape Siskin fir trees. By this time the wind had picked up and we had to work to find the Siskins, which we eventually located in the waving branches.
Just before the Bakleigat Tavern we took the side road south to a spot where we had previously found Layard’s Warbler. After a bit of splishing, out popped a Mongoose. He was a very unwelcome visitor and was immediately seen off by some very aggressive Grey Tits. We eventually got Chestnut-vented Warbler and a big surprise – a Black Cuckoo calling. This was followed by a Honey Buzzard appearing over the ridge giving us good views as it flew over.
Further down this road we eventually heard and found two Layard’s Warblers that came down from a steep rocky ridge to check on us! But no Cape Rock Thrush nor Cinnamon-breasted Buntings this time.
Returning back to the Koppies Road we continued on, but by this time it had become unpleasantly windy, with the birds now keeping low. We managed to add a number of White-throated Canaries, a Booted Eagle, and South African Shellduck on a farm dam. But the Fallow farmlands had become completely devoid of birds as we made our way back towards Villiersdorp. We had, however by this time, managed to accumulate a creditable 93 species. Surprisingly we did not find one Yellow-billed Kite or Common Buzzard.
This loop along the Koppies road is a great birding area and we would encourage more birders to visit. It is only an hour from Hermanus and gives a complete new suite of birds from the coastal areas.