The Macnaughts’ account of their recent trip prompted us to send a brief account of ours to Addo last month.  Hope it may be of interest. 


Tony & Heather


Our first stop was at Ebb-and-Flow in Wilderness – a place much visited by Hermanus Bird Club over the years.  Our log cabin overlooked the river and we didn’t have to leave our deck to see a lot of birds: seven spectacular Knysna Turacos flew into the tree opposite to be followed by a Brown-hooded Kingfisher who stayed there awhile.  A beautiful Purple Heron stalked in the reeds – we had never been aware before of the intricate pattern and colours on the head and neck and the purple on its body.  Usually when we have seen them they have been in flight and just look brown. Black-headed Orioles called and Saw-wings flew by us, and an African Hoopoe pecked around in the grass.

Prince Albert was not great for birds but we were interested to see that the Red Bishops were still in breeding plumage in February, whereas in Fisherhaven they had reverted to their non-breeding plumage many weeks before.
Graaf Reinet produced Masked Weavers and not a lot of other birds, but a lovely town to visit.
We had never been fortunate to see many birds in Addo: maybe the elephants got in the way or – more likely – we didn’t get up early enough.  However, this time we were rewarded with close-up views of a pair of Secretarybirds and also a pair of Denham’s Bustards.  In the dark one night a pair of nightjars flew up from the road (presumably fiery-necked) and, some creatures we had never seen before – two spring hares leaped about like little kangaroos.

Then back to Wilderness where we stayed in Kingfisher Country House which is well-known to birders.  The owners feed the birds as well as their guests and while we had our breakfast, turacos came down to the feeders almost within arms-length of us.  They were joined by Chorister Robin-Chats, Fork-tailed Drongos, Forest Canaries Common and Swee Waxbills,and Cape Whiteeyes.  Very difficult to concentrate on breakfast, but a delight to see these birds at such close range.

The House is near the lakes and it was easy to drive along to the hides.  A Painted Snipe had been reported on Rondevlei but it must have gone back into the reeds by the time we got there.  However, we enjoyed Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Stilts and flamingos.

Finally back to Fisherhaven where the sunbirds were waiting for us.



Monday 22nd May. Arrive at Grootvadersbosch at 14h00 (*see directions below) – a short time to get organised and let’s meet at 15h00 to explore the area around the chalets. We will meet at the lapa, which is near the camping area, for a braai at 18:30. This is the only area suitable for getting our group together.  You will need to take your cutlery, crockery and glasses from the cottage each evening as the lapa will only have seating and tables. We will announce the meeting place for tomorrow morning’s excursion tonight.

Tuesday 23rd May. At 08:00 we drive to the reception area from where we will explore another part of the forest. Suggest we take along a mid-morning snack and drink. We’ll meet again at 18:30 at the lapa at for tonight’s braai.

Wednesday 24th May. This morning we will consolidate transport at 08h00 and depart for a trip to Bontebok National Park.  We’ll go to the campsite from where we will do the river walk. Next we’ll drive the loop road and afterwards end up at Die Stroom for our snack/lunch in the picnic area. Those who rather want to go into Swellendam for lunch can do so. Back at Grootvadersbosch we’ll meet at 15h00 for a drive along the lower slopes of the mountain above the forest, enjoying the birds in the fynbos habitat. We will have our last braai at the lapa, but before we do that, we will have an audit of the sightings we have had.

25th  Sadly time to leave and we need to be out of the cottages by 10h00 – please be ready to go as they need to get the chalets sorted out and ready for the next guests. Of course once you are out of the cottage you can do some last minute exploring before heading home.

As usual the group will be in catering teams and they will create the starter, vegetable, salads and potatoes for one of the three evenings.  These teams will be allocated once we know the names of all on the trip. Breakfast and lunches will be enjoyed in your cottage.

The cost per person is R590.00 sharing a two bedroom cottage with a bathroom (shower only) and lounge/dining area. The kitchen is equipped with Eskom power points for all appliances including fridge/freezer, microwave and toaster, as well as an electric oven and gas hob with four burners. The reports that I have had are that the accommodation is lovely.

Payments must be by EFT please – if not, cheques should have R40.00 added and if cash the cost is an additional R60.00 – bank charges are huge and we make very little on these tours. Please note that if you cancel for any reason we will charge a handling fee of 10% IF we can find a replacement – if we can’t find a replacement then sadly we cannot refund at all.

Here are the directions to Grootvadersbosch and some information you might find interesting. Take the N2 from Cape Town towards George. Just past Swellendam and Buffelsjag River, take the left-hand turn-off for Suurbraak/Barrydale. Turn left and continue through the town of Suurbraak and past the turn-off for Barrydale via Tradouwpass. The tar road becomes a dirt road. Continue till a T-junction, turn left and keep left at the next fork in the road. The reserve is well signposted. The road ends at the entrance gates. GPS: 33 59 08.4 S 20 49 24.7 E      Office hours: 07:30–16:00   Tel: +27 (0)28 492 0001

Grootvadersbosch comprises 250 hectares of indigenous forest in the Langeberg region, close to Heidelberg.  It is an excellent birding destination with more than 196 bird species recorded.  Specials are Black, Crowned and Booted Eagles, the rare Striped Flufftail, the Narina Trogon, Layard’s Titbabbler and Red-necked Spurfowl. Sighting the forest emperor butterfly and a subspecies of the rare ghost frog would be the highlight of a visit here, as they can only be found in this particular forest.

If you want to join this outing please mail me at – as usual first come first served – payment will be required upon confirmation please as we need to make payment to Cape Nature by the month end.     Please include your date of birth and Wild card number when replying.


Mini Big Birding Day


MBBD Map 2017

Map showing area covered by the MBBD

We are nearing the Mini Big Birding Day and we would welcome some more entries.  The day is NOT the Olympic games where everybody hopes to win a medal, but a fantastic way to improve your knowledge about the local birds and birding spots and to hone your observation skills.

Please think again and let me have your entries as soon as you can – the date is 2nd April and its 06h00 to 18h00 followed by a braai at the hall when the days sightings will be shared amongst the participants.



HBC Library


The following titles are available through our inhouse Library which is kept by Craig.


BOOK NAME                                      AUTHOR  


Birds of the Lowveld  by  Peter Ginn

Birds of the KNP   by  Kenneth Newman

Bird behaviour  by   Robert Burton

Birds of Southern Africa  by  O P M Prozesky

Chamberlain LBJ’s  by   Faansie Peacock

Camera Studies of SA Birds  by   C J Uys

Colour Encyclopaedia of Birds  by   Euan Dunn

Distribution & Status of Birds of Kruger  by  A C Kemp

Garden Birds of SA   by   Ginn/McIllron

Garden Birds of SA  by   Geoff Lockwood

Gardening with Birds   by   Tom Spence

More Garden Birds of SA  by   Ginn/McIllron

Mondi Southern Birds   by  Petersen/Tripp

Migrating Raptors of the World  by   Keith Bildstein

Roadside Birds of SA  by   Kenneth Newman

Seabird Identification Guide  by   Peter Harrison

Sibley Birding Basics   by  David Sibley

South African Birds  by   Leonard Gill

SA Birds – Photographic guide   by   Ian Sinclair

The Birds around us   by   Richard Liversidge

The Bird- Master of Flight  by   Harrison/Loxton

Vanishing Eagles   by    Philip Burton

Wildfowl-Ducks,Geese & Swans   by    Madge/Burn

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas of SA




V1 To Fly or not to Fly

V2 The Mastery of Flight

V3 The Insatiable Appetite

V4 Meat Eaters

V5 Fishing for a Living

V6 Signals and Songs

V7 Finding Partners

V8 The Demands of the Egg

V9 The Problems of Parenthood

V10 The Limits of Endurance

V12 Okavango Magic

V13/14 Sasol Birds of Kruger

V16 Attenborough in Paradise

V18 S A Bird Sounds

V19 S A Bird Sounds

V20 City Slickers

V21 Raptor Force

V22 Bird Song of Southern Africa

V23 Winged Safari

V24 An introduction to SA Birds




C1 Bird Calls for Beginners

C2 S A Bird Sounds

C3 The Hermanus Cliff Path Experience

April Meeting


Please note that the April Meeting will be on 19 April and will commence with a Special General Meeting to consider the matter of affiliation with Birdlife SA. This will be at 18h00.

It will be followed by the talk by Giselle Murison, who is the Project Manager for the Western Cape Estuaries Conservation Project. Funded by the WWF- Elizabeth Harding Bequest, the project is focused on formal protected area expansion and on improving conservation action at priority estuarine IBAs within the Fynbos. She is based in Cape Town, within reach of the initial project sites identified through the preliminary scoping phase of the project, namely the Berg River, Klein River and Bot-Kleinmond River Estuaries.

West Coast Update



Helen and I have just returned from a two week caravaning and birding trip to the West Coast and think it might be a good idea to give members an update on conditions there.

Our first camp was in Yserfontein which was ideally suited for visits to the West Coast National Park. We spent two days in the park and quite a few hours in the hides.

Our timing for the Geelbek Hide was perfect. We arrived just after high tide. There were large numbers of waders to our left and as the waters receded they began to move in mass across the front of the hide and then, gradually, as more of the mudflats were exposed, they moved further out.

We have never seen so many there before. They ranged in size from Curlews and Whimbrels, Green Shanks, Black-winged Stilts, Common Sandpipers , various Plovers, etc. By far the greatest number were Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stints.

Flamingos of course by the thousand – both Greater and Lesser.

In the park we had great views of a Black Harrier. We drove to the Churchhaven side of the Lagoon and then down to Tzaarsbank (?) and saw a flock of Turnstones with the Oystercatchers

Our next camp was Dwarskersbos – 12 km north of Laaiplek at the mouth of the Berg River.  We have always enjoyed staying here because of the proximity to the lower part of the Berg River and day drives further in the area and northwards.

On this occasion however by 11 o’clock each day we were confronted with high winds and extreme temperatures – 38 to 40 degrees centigrade. The countryside  here and northwards was extremely dry. There were very few waders on the river or on the salt pans..

On the river we did see many Flamingos, Pelicans, Swift Terns and thousands of Cape cormorants and Gannets offshore. Plus some Great Crested Grebes and Malachite Kingfishers.

Sadly, the Hide at Veldrift is in a bad state. Part of the roof is missing. There was rubbish and worse in it as well. We could not understand how they could neglect a facility like that.

We decided to visit Rocher Pan. This was also a disappointment as it was totally dry.  So we went further north to Verlorenvlei which as we know from the past covers a considerable area of wetlands.There was not a drop of water in it – and no birds at all.

We then went on to Baboon Point, where there were many Cormorants as well as Common and Swift Terns.

On the way we did see some Chestnut-Vented Tit-babblers and Pale Chanting Goshawks.

We then decided to head for Greener Pastures. So next up was Silver Strand on the Breede River at Robertson. Some Birders that we had previously met had advised us to go birding near the Aerodrome and along some of the farm roads.We spent three days there. The area was beautiful and green with vineyards and fruit orchards.The last of the seasons grapes were being harvested.

We saw a Secretary Bird, Large-billed and Karoo Larks plus more PC Goshawks.

A walk on the Vrolijkheid Reserve near McGregor yielded, amongst others, some nice views of Fairy Flycatchers and, rather surprisingly, on the dam, a small flock of Little Stints.

It was then time to come home.

Our total bird count was a modest 96 species, influenced, no doubt, by the hot, dry and windy conditions.

Nevertheless it was an enjoyable couple of weeks away.

Mike Mac Naught

An Appeal to Club Members

Those of you who attended the Flower Festival last spring will recall the very successful stand mounted by the Hermanus Bird Club.  Pat Redford put it together and she has once again volunteered her services to design and build our 2017 stand.  This year’s theme will be nests and members are asked to assist in this regard

Pat asks that you should look out for abandoned or fallen nests (please do not touch active ones!)  Her advice is:

  • Shake them off a bit,
  • Spray with a little bit of insect spray to rid nest of mites etc,
  • Store in a ventilated cardboard box in their garage until September.
  • If you know for sure which bird species the nest belonged to, can you label the box accordingly.
  • If you are not sure, perhaps you can do research themselves to establish the most likely species, a good learning experience?
  • Alternatively we will get the nests all lined up and ask our experts to ID them, so we can label and display.

She would love to have about 100 nests, even if there are several the same, it would make an awesome display! We have at least 100 active members, so she am sure 1 per member or per couple could be achieved? Specially in the windy stormy winter ahead. She would also like to have photographs of nests or birds nesting.  These should be emailed to her at so that she can start compiling the information and plan the display.

Glenda Furst recently took the photograph below.  Mike Ford has identified it as a Little Swift, and it is the sort of image that is needed, so lets get cracking!


Little Swift and nest

The 2017 Challenge

The 2017 Challenge is well on its way and we are into our second month.  Of course, the first month is the easiest and many challengers already have a substantial list.  This means that it gets harder to keep adding new birds, but this is why it is a challenge – because it pushes us to do more!

Needless to say Mike Ford is in top position with 404 points at the end of January.  He is followed by Ronnie Hazell with 361 points and Sheelagh Bowman who is on 289 points. For those of you who are new to this competition, points are awarded according to the degree of difficulty in spotting a particular bird; thus a Cape Robin Chat is worth 1 point, whereas a Striped Flufftail gets its spotter 10 points.

Since the Challenge runs until the end of July, there is still plenty of time should any late comers wish to join the fray.  Please contact Graham Palmer at his email address if you are interested.

88 km area

The Area covered by the Challenge

New Committee Members


Mike Bryan

Mike was born in KZN and grew up in the village of Kloof Near Durban.  Following his marriage to Kathy, they lived there for another 20 years before moving to Cape Town where they settled for 15 years. They moved to Hermanus in 2004.

Mike spent his entire career in various capacities in the textile industry.  His interest in birding was sparked some 30 years ago, when he and his young family holidayed in the Kruger Park.  His three children and their families now reside in Surrey, UK, so he and Kathy get to travel there quite frequently.  They have been members of the club for 13 years.  Mike is taking on the important role of Treasurer

Ronnie Hazell

During his working career as an exploration geologist, Ronnie traveled to many parts of the world and had excellent opportunities to see all manner of exotic birds.  Regrettably, he did not utilise these openings and only dabbled with birding in a very superficial way.

 He only got really interested after retirement, when an ex-colleague took him and Renee to Namibia on a birding trip around 16 years ago.  This was an eye-opener and the start of an ongoing love of birding.  Whilst he has done some birding on other continents, his main area of interest is the Southern African birding area where, with a lot of hard work in the future, he hopes to progress his list to over 800 species.  Whilst group birding trips can be informative, Ronnie and Renee prefer birding on their own, as this affords a better opportunity to come to grips with identification.

 He says, “Taking over responsibility for the HBC blog will be a pleasure, as I first put Barbara on to the idea of a blog and helped her to set it up 5 years ago.  I already have my own blog, started in 2010, and also publish the ‘HERBS’ blog on behalf of the Botanical Society.  I will try to keep abreast of the club’s activities so that I can report on them, but will obviously be relying on members to submit their own stories and reports on club outings and achievements.”

 John Saunders

 John has recently returned to SA from the UK – as you will recall he was a member of the Committee prior to going to the UK. John was born in Twickenham and spent 40 years at Heathrow. He became interested in birds at age 8 when his mother gave him the Observers Book of British Birds and has not lost his passion for our friends, the birds.  Apart from birds, John has a great interest in astronomy. He and his wife Irene first came to Hermanus in 2005 and have happily returned after their short time back in the UK.  John will be looking after the Walks and Talks portfolio.

 Monika von Oppell

 Baroness Dr Monika von Oppell was born in Pretoria and is an esteemed academic. She developed a thinking skills curriculum into an Australian Private School before reporting the outcomes on the world stage. More recently she has been assisting in getting education reforms in Abu Dhabi where she researched the implementation, challenges and teachers belief. This has been written up in PhD research. She “retired” to Hermanus 2 years ago and loves the people, the environment and of course our wonderful birds.  Monika joins the committee as Secretary.

 Mariette Pitlo

 Mariette was also born in Pretoria but was schooled and lived in Johannesburg till Matric. She spent 10 years in Holland before returning to SA to get married. She has lived in Cape Town for 35 years where she enjoyed hiking, gardening and visiting nature reserves all over SA – this is where she learnt to love birds. She is very actively involved in searching for and recording rock art in the Eastern Cedarberg with other likeminded  people. Mariette is new to Hermanus and only arrived here in 2016 to be with her two children who have lived here for 10 years. She will be taking on the Public Relations and Events with Daphne Hutton.

 Daphne Hutton

 Daphne is from Limpopo originally being a farm girl which is where her interest in the outdoors, wildlife and birds started. Moving on she lived in Mpumalanga and KZN before moving to the UK where she spent 10 years – however the draw of the bush and the sun called her back and she chose to settle in Hermanus – which she says is so rich in flora and fauna, birds and of course a wonderful lifestyle where wondering on the mountains and beaches makes for a relaxed and fulfilling life. She joins the committee with Mariette looking after PR and Events.