Atlassing with Lester and Cheryl


Cape Penduline Tit

Cheryl and Lester will be doing regular atlassing in the Overberg area and kicked off on Thursday 18th April doing the 4 pentads that the Koppies road loop incorporates, just north of Villiersdorp. We were able to put together a wonderful list of birds that we typically do not easily find around Hermanus. The habitat on this loop includes general farm lands, a section of very good Karoo type vegetation, riverine areas, farm dams, the wide shallow, flat drainage area of Moddergat (mostly dry at the moment) and the surrounding rocky hills and Mountains. We were very excited to find lots of Cape Penduline tits, a number of Fairy Flycatchers, Long-billed Crombecs, Rufous-vented Tit-babblers, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Grey Tit, Layards Tit-babbler, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Black Harrier, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, and many other species – and only about 60 Km from Hermanus. Our total list for the 4 pentads was 76 species – this place will be great in Spring!!

Our plan is to attempt to go out once a week (except the week of scheduled HBC outings)  – and over time, to atlas as many pentads as possible in the Overberg area (from Rooi-els to Die-Dam) and to possibly also go as far inland as Vrolijkheid. We would welcome anyone who would like to join us. The outings will unfortunately? be long – typically 4 to 5 hours excluding travel time so if you think you are tough and can withstand really focused birding then please consider joining us. (Of-course anyone can peel off at any time). You do not need to be an expert birder – in fact these outings will be a great chance to learn and improve your birding skills in a small group environment. You also do not need to know anything about atlassing – it’s just about recording species seen in each pentad (I use the Birdlasser App which gives all the info we need). A lot of the outings will take the format of driving various dirt road loops stopping frequently, birding a small area and then moving on. We will also focus on checking out new areas and on finding the ‘specials’ in the Overberg.

If you are interested, send me an email so I can include you on details where to meet etc prior to each outing.

My e-mail address is (note it is jvg not ivg) and cell number 0785938977.

Outing to Vrolijkheid Reserve


There will be a full day outing to Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve on 2nd May 2019.

Meet at the Onrus Trading Post at 06:30 (we need to get away early as it is about a 2 hour drive).

We will spend 3 to 4 hours birding the Reserve. There is a lovely picnic site near the entrance so bring whatever you need to enhance your experience!!

Birds: The special birds to look out for: Fairy Flycatcher, Grey Tit, Layards Tit-babler, Rufous-eared Warbler, Namaqua Warbler, Aghulas Long-billed Lark, Karoo Korhaan, Long-billed Crombec and many others!

There are two options to return to Hermanus (Each party to decide for themselves):

Go back via Robertson, Worcester, Villiersdorp (ie returning the way we arrived)

Take the back (dirt) roads to the R317 and on to Stormsvlei, and Riviersonderend.

Both options have potentially good birding opportunities along the way.

Directions from Hermanus: (Probably a good idea to check out the route on google maps!)

Take the R43 to Bot River, then N2 towards Caledon for a few Km, then turn left off the N2 onto the R43 towards Villiersdorp, Turn right at the ‘T’ and continue through Villiersdorp on the R43 to Worcester and before reaching Worcester turn right onto the Road sign posted to Robertson and the R60, and then turn right onto the R60 towards Robertson. Once in Robertson take the turn off towards Mcgregor and the Reserve will be on the left hand side. Overall distance is about 160 Km.

Contact: Lester van Groeningen 078 593 8977

Mkuze Game Reserve


On Wednesday evening, Lester van Groeningen will be sharing his and his wife, Cheryl’s experiences of the Mkhuze Game Reserve and their wealth of knowledge of Zululand Birds.  This should be a very interesting presentation and will highlight the diversity of birds in the Reserve.

Kick-off in Fernkloof will, as usual, be with drinks at 6:00 pm, followed by the meeting at 6:30 pm.

MBBD – A great Day’s Birding


It was a great day’s birding, but sadly, it was enjoyed by only a few.  Thanks to those who made the effort and took part.  They all agreed that it was very worthwhile and most enjoyable.  Barbara Palmer wrote, “Please HBC committee, never cancel our MBBD!!”  Sure, it rained a bit, but this did not impede us unduly and we all achieved good counts and even had some really spectacular sightings!  The prize in this respect must surely go to John and Roy, who visited Genadendal and saw a Narina Trogon!!  What an amazing bonus for them to find this spectacular bird so far out of its range.

By mid afternoon the weather had cleared and our day ended with a fine, if cold, picnic in Fernkloof when we swapped stories and compared sightings.

The scores were;  Chaetops frenatus (Ronnie and Renee Hazell, Barbara Swart and Margie Ogston) 118 species;   G(r)abar Goshawks (Barbara and Graham Palmer, Chris Cheetham and Jenny Fynn) 113 species;  Bowmacs (John and Shelagh Bowman, Mike and Helen MacNaught) 107 species; and Dozy Darters (John Saunders and Roy Whitaker) 97 species.  By taking a road less traveled and going to Genadendal, the latter added quite a few one-off sightings.

Lady Birds (Anne Philip and Margaret Loesch) could not make Sunday, so went out in the rain on Saturday anyway and achieved 64 species.  Well done for making the effort!!

For the Challengers, it was a good opportunity to add some birds to their Big Birding Year score and we are looking forward to the first set of results which are due at the end of May.

The combined list of 159 species is as follows:  Bar-throated Apalis;  Pied Avocet;  Cape Batis;  Southern Red Bishop;  Yellow Bishop;  Bokmakerie;  Southern Boubou;  Cape Bulbul;  Cape Bunting;  Denham’s Bustard;  Common Buzzard;  Forest Buzzard;  Jackal Buzzard;  Brimstone Canary;  Cape Canary;  Yellow Canary;  Familiar Chat;  Grey-backed Cisticola;  Levaillant’s Cisticola;  Red-knobbed Coot;  Bank Cormorant;  Cape Cormorant;  Crowned Cormorant;  Reed Cormorant;  White-breasted Cormorant;  Black Crake;  Blue Crane;  Cape Crow;  Pied Crow;  Klaas’ Cuckoo;  African Darter;  Cape Turtle Dove;  Laughing Dove;   Namaqua Dove;  Red-eyed Dove;  Rock Dove;  Fork-tailed Drongo;  African Black Duck;  White-backed Duck;  White-faced Whistling Duck;  Yellow-billed Duck;  African Fish Eagle;  Verreaux’s Eagle;  Little Egret;  Western Cattle Egret;  Peregrine Falcon;  Common Fiscal;  Greater Flamingo;  African Dusky Flycatcher;  Fiscal Flycatcher;  Spotted Flycatcher;  Cape Gannet;  Egyptian Goose;  Spur-winged Goose;  African Goshawk;  Cape Grassbird;  Great Crested Grebe;  Little Grebe;  Sombre Greenbul;  Common Greenshank;  Helmeted Guineafowl;  Grey-headed Gull;  Hartlaub’s Gull;  Kelp Gull;  Hamerkop;  Black Harrier;  African Harrier-Hawk;  Black-crowned Night Heron;  African Hoopoe;  Black-headed Heron;  Grey Heron;  African Sacred Ibis;   Hadeda Ibis;  Rock Kestrel;  Giant Kingfisher;  Malachite Kingfisher;  Pied Kingfisher;  Black-shouldered Kite;  Yellow-billed Kite;  Blacksmith Lapwing;  Crowned Lapwing;  Large-billed Lark;  Red-capped Lark;  Brown-throated Martin;  House Martin;  Rock Martin;  Common Moorhen;  Red-faced Mousebird;  Speckled Mousebird;  Common Moorhen;  Neddicky;  Fiery-necked Nightjar;  African Black Oystercatcher;  African Penguin;  African Olive Pigeon;  Speckled Pigeon;  African Pipit;  Common Ringed Plover;  Grey Plover;  Kittlitz’s Plover;  Three-banded Plover;  White-fronted Plover;  Karoo Prinia;  White-necked Raven;  Cape Robin-Chat;  Cape Rockjumper;  Cape Rock-Thrush;  Curlew Sandpiper;  Marsh Sandpiper;  Black Saw-wing;  Secretarybird;  Streaky-headed Seedeater;  Cape Shoveler;  Cape Siskin;  Cape Sparrow;  House Sparrow;  Southern Grey-headed Sparrow;  Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk;  African Spoonbill;  Cape Spurfowl;  Common Starling;  Pied Starling;  Red-winged Starling;  Black-winged Stilt;  Little Stint;  African Stonechat;  White Stork;  Cape Sugarbird;  Amethyst Sunbird;  Malachite Sunbird;  Orange-breasted Sunbird;  Southern Double-collared Sunbird;  Barn Swallow;  Greater Striped Swallow;   African Swamphen;  Little Swift;  White-rumped Swift;  Cape Teal;  Red-billed Teal;  Common Tern;  Sandwich Tern;  Swift Tern;  Spotted Thick-Knee;  Water Thick-Knee;  Olive Thrush;  Narina Trogon;  Ruddy Turnstone;  Cape Wagtail;  Lesser Swamp Warbler;  Little Rush Warbler;  Common Waxbill;  Swee Waxbill;  Cape Weaver;  Southern Masked Weaver;  Capped Wheatear;  Whimbrel;  Pin-tailed Whydah;  Cape White Eye;  Cardinal Woodpecker.

MBBD Final Notice!!


The prevailing mood is that we should proceed with the MBBD tomorrow, weather notwithstanding.  We will all be under the same handicap and the skill will be in trying, not only to find birds, but to keep dry!!

Kick off will be at 6:30 am (or whenever you choose) and we will meet at Fernkloof at 6:30 pm for our picnic.  Please remember to bring a funny story of the day!  We certainly won’t be expecting any record breaking scores, but at least we will be participating!

To those who unfortunately cannot make it, we apologise and look forward to the next occasion when we may get better conditions.  Please drive carefully!!

Of MBBD and Rain…


Predictably, when one arranges something that requires good weather, it rains, and tomorrow’s MBBD is obviously no exception!  There is an 80% chance of all day rain tomorrow, so we are postponing the event until Sunday  –  however, Sunday doesn’t look all that good either, so we will look at the forecasts again tomorrow and confirm in the afternoon.  Sorry to be a wet blanket, but it won’t be much fun birding in the rain all day and we will be better off waiting for a good day.

MBBD ???


The weather forecasts are flip flopping and we really won’t know what is going to actually happen on Saturday until Friday’s forecast; so lets keep hoping that one of the two days will be fine.  I am going away until Friday and will communicate again on my return.  Sorry that we cannot be firmer at this stage.  In the meantime, I suggest you liaise with John Saunders and Lester should you wish to finalise arrangements prior to my return.  I will be out of range until then.


MBBD Update

Pikkusirri - sade

Unfortunately, there is a lot of rain forecast for the 13 April – the day of the MBBD.  It is still early days, so things might change, but would there be any objection to moving the competition to Sunday the 14th?  Please post your comments on this site.

Outing to Meerensee


Lester and Ian Glenn led a very enjoyable outing to Meerensee and the surrounding estates this morning.  There were no less than 30 members present and the parking lot reflected this, with 11 vehicles taking up all the space!

We walked around the western edges of the Bot river lagoon and adjacent gardens and managed to record no less than 66 species, despite the cool, windy and sometimes rainy weather.  Perhaps our most interesting sighting was of an immature Cape Cormorant attempting to devour what looked like a snake, but could have been an eel.  It really struggled to swallow the c. 60 cm reptile and even regurgitated it at least once, before making off into the deeper water with its catch.  We never did see how the episode ended.

Our list, which includes birds seen at the Hawston Settling Ponds on the way home, comprised;

African Oystercatcher; African Pipit; African Sacred Ibis;  Bar-throated Apalis;  Bokmakerie;  Southern Boubou;  Cape Bulbul;  Brimstone Canary;  Cape Cormorant;  White-breasted Cormorant;  Long-billed Crombec;  Laughing Dove;  Fork-tailed Drongo;  Little Egret;  Peregrine Falcon;  Southern Fiscal;  Greater Flamingo;  Fiscal Flycather;  Cape Gannet;  Sombre Greenbul;  Common Greenshank;  Helmeted Guineafowl;  Hartlaub’s Gull;  Kelp Gull;  Black-headed Heron;  Grey Heron;  Hadeda Ibis;  Sacred Ibis;  Rock Kestrel;  Pied Kingfisher;  Blacksmith Lapwing;  Brown-throated Martin;  Red-faced Mousebird;  Speckled Mousebird;  Speckled Pigeon;  Common Ringed Plover;  Three Banded Plover;  Kittlitz’s Plover;  White-fronted Plover;  Karoo Prinia;  Cape Robin-Chat;  Cape Sparrow;  Grey-headed Sparrow;  Common Starling;  Black-winged Stilt;  Southern Double-collared Sunbird;  Malachite Sunbird;  Barn Swallow;  Greater Striped Swallow;  Little Swift;  White-rumped Swift;  Olive Thrush;  Cape Wagtail;  Common Waxbill;  Cape Weaver;  Cape White-eye;  African Spoonbill;  Cape Spurfowl;  Cape Teal;  Caspian Tern;  Sandwich Tern;  Swift Tern;  Purple Swamphen;  Common Moorhen;  Yellow-billed Duck;  Cape Shoveller.

The outing provided a good opportunity for Challengers to add a few birds to their lists.