Grootvadersbosch Away Trip

It started out as an outing for 20 members, but Cape Nature had a drainage problem and the numbers had to be reduced to 12.  The Palmers kindly agreed to camp, so in the end 14 of us set out on Monday.  Numbers continued to diminish for various reasons and by the time Wednesday evening came along, we were down to only 10.

We were very pleasantly surprised by the excellent accommodation available and looked forward to our first forest walk.  This took place on Tuesday morning, when we hiked for three and a half hours in desperate search of Trogons, Flycatchers and Turacos. Sadly, it was not to be – our total count for the forest reserve was only around 30 species, but we were well rewarded with an excellent sighting of a Barn Owl as well as large flocks of African Olive Pigeons – up to 40 or 50 birds on one occasion!

That afternoon some of us went up into the foothills of the Langeberg behind Heidelberg where we managed to add to our trip list. Unfortunately, the roads were very dusty and this, combined with a setting sun in our eyes, made for difficult birding.

On Wednesday eight of us visited the Bontebok Park outside Swellendam and were rewarded with good sightings, including African Marsh and Black Harriers. By the time we returned to Grootvadersbosch that evening our bird count was at 85, which was certainly more than any of us expected!  I managed to add another 24 species on the journey back to Hermanus, including a magnificent Martial Eagle near Bredasdorp.

As usual, catering was of a very high standard and we had three wonderful dinners! Being a small group also enabled us to get to know each other well, thereby meeting one of the objectives of such outings.

June Walk

The walk for June 1st will  be to the Beaumont Wine Estate. A walk around the lake and the estate will be led by Margie Ogston & Barbara Swart, after which we will drive back along the Swartriver Road.

We meet at the Onrus Trading Post at 7.30 am, so as to be at the wine estate at about 8.00 – 8.15 am

Grootvadersbosch Outing

 

There has been a cancellation, so there is room for a single lady to join this outing which promises to be one of the highlights of the year!

The itinerary and dates are as follows:

GROOTVADERSBOSCH  ITINERARY

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.

Tuesday 23rd May. Meet at the designated spot at the chalets at 08:00.  We will 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 again consolidate transport at 08:00 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, where we will have an audit of the sightings we have had.

Thursday 25th May. 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.

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 Buffeljags River, take the left-hand turn-off for Suurbraak/Barrydale. Continue through the town of Suurbraak and past the turn-off for Barrydale via Tradouw Pass. 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.

The cost is R590.00 which is very reasonable.

If you want to participate please contact Craig at pcsholmes@telkomsa.net or on 0283132458

The Flock Report – by Trevor Hardaker

 

I am sure that Trevor Hardaker won’t mind my copying his excellent report on the Flock at Sea, as it provides an interesting insight into an incredible event.

‘We are back from the Flock at Sea AGAIN! 2017 cruise and there is only one thing that can really be said about it… if you were NOT on this cruise, you have almost certainly missed out on one of THE most amazing birding events ever to have taken place in Southern African birding history!!

I’m sure a full trip report will be published in due course which will include the long list of mouth-watering rarities that we were lucky enough to see on this trip but, without a doubt, the bird of the trip was Southern Africa’s 15th ever LIGHT-MANTLED ALBATROSS that was seen well by a large majority of the observers on board on Tuesday morning, a true mega indeed! This was so far removed from everyone’s radar that it wasn’t even included as a possibility on the list of outlandish rarities that we might stand a miniscule chance of seeing on this trip, so caused quite a bit of celebration on board! I can quite honestly say that the birding that we experienced on Tuesday morning was some of the best and most exciting birding that I have ever experienced anywhere in Southern Africa! Given where my list currently is, I would normally be very happy to be able to get 2 new birds for my list over the course of a year, so to be able to add 2 new birds to my list before 9am on the first morning of the cruise was completely insane indeed!

Yes, there may have been things that didn’t go completely as planned or things that could have been done differently but, overall, to pull off a trip of this scale so successfully is a massive feather in BirdLife South Africa’s cap! It’s always difficult to single out any particular person or people when congratulating a team but I think we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to, amongst others, Mark Anderson, Emma Askes, Gisela Ortner, Ross Wanless, Nini van der Merwe and all the others involved behind the scenes who pulled this trip off. I would also like to thank all my co-guides on board for doing your bit to find all the good birds and make sure that as many people as possible could get on to them. If I have left anyone else out, please accept my apologies, so also just a general big thank you to any and all who were involved in some big or small way to put this trip together.

There were some amazing birds seen, some great lectures presented and, of course, some wonderful socialising as well. It was fantastic to see many old friends as well as get to meet so many new ones and eventually put faces to names. It was also wonderful to see Mr SABAP himself, Prof Les Underhill, be honoured yesterday at the BLSA AGM by receiving the Gill Memorial Award, a testament to all the fantastic work that he has done over a lifetime of bird-related research.

There were also many listing milestones reached on this cruise and I’m sure that I will be busy for a long time still highlighting some of those on my Facebook group but, for now, two birders deserve special mention for cracking what is probably considered to be the ultimate birding milestone in Southern Africa, 900 species! Congratulations to Robin Gray and Jonathan Rossouw who both managed to reach this magical milestone on the cruise and, in doing so, took the total number of birders ever to have reached this milestone up to 9 birders. Who is going to be the 10th person to ever reach 900 species in Southern Africa? We’ll just have to wait and see…

The only thing that could have possibly made this trip even better was to disembark this morning and have all 1945 birders on board rush off to twitch a mega somewhere… and it almost happened too! A KING PENGUIN turned up on Hout Bay beach yesterday afternoon and, had it been left in place, it would quite easily have generated the largest twitch in SA birding history almost instantly. I’m still not sure of all the details as yet but have heard that the bird has been removed from the beach and moved to a rehabilitation centre. More details as and when I find them out.

I am sure that many of you will still be doing a lot of local birding on the upcoming long weekend but we are due for a major update of the various listing clubs hosted on www.zestforbirds.co.za so, when you get a chance, please do send your latest totals through for the various listing clubs to me by the end of next Friday at the latest, so that I can then include them in the next update.

Lastly, just thank you again to everyone involved in the Flock at Sea cruise and for allowing me to be a small part of it – it was an incredible trip! I will leave you with one of the most memorable views of the last few days… see you all again on the next one – I know that I will certainly be signing up as soon as it is announced!

Flock

Kind regards

Trevor’

Stanford Outing on 4 May

John Saunders writes as follows:

“Irene and I did a recce today of the Stanford Wandelpad and glad that we did. We found that one part of the footpath is underwater due to the high water of the river which will be that way until or unless the Grotto Beach access to the sea is breached. Hence we had to divert to other roads and join the path further along.

We also met an extremely nice chap…who is also a keen member of the Stanford Bird club… Royd Frith… and he pointed out an excellent side track with superb views of the river. He also knows Peter Hochfelden and suggested we ask him to be our guide on the 4th May.

On our return home I phoned Peter Hochfelden and he has willingly agreed to be our tour guide for the visit. I have discussed this with Mike Brian and he is very happy with this idea.

Hence…for the blog…  we still meet and Fernkloof at 0800 and once we have consolidated cars we drive to Stanford to meet Peter at the Information Shop along Queen Victoria road.

For any members who wish to meet us there I suggest that they park along Longmarket (3rd turning on the left after turning off the R43 ) next to the Village Green where there is plenty of space for parking.

The walk is about 2 kilometres, so please bring liquid refreshment to keep you cool en route.

Cheers.    John”

BLSA Affiliation

 

At the Special General Meeting held on the 19th April 2017, with over 50 members in attendance, it was unanimously agreed that Hermanus Bird Club should become an affiliate member of BLSA. The details of the Affiliation agreement and the revised BLSA Constitution were circulated to all members on March 11th 2017, as was the wording for the change to the Hermanus Bird Club’s required addition to the constitution. This wording –“The HBC supports the aims and objectives of BLSA and agrees to abide by the revised BLSA Constitution adopted on 21 March 2015” will be included in the updated HBC Constitution, which will be sent to all members.

Craig

A Frustrating Day

Renee and I spent a few hours at Strandfontein yesterday morning, hoping to see a Sand Martin.  We did not, but we saw plenty of other birds, none of which added anything to my challenge list!  Then, when we arrived home in Hermanus, I opened my mail to see a notice from Trevor Hardaker advising of a Western Yellow Wagtail at Strandfontein. Then a Squacco Heron and, this morning, a Lesser Crested Tern!!  Talk about bad luck – the Tern would have been a lifer for me.  Pity Strandfontein is so far away.

Ronnie

Its Nesting Time! – Please Help

As you are probably aware, our club is mounting a stand at the annual Fernkloof Flower Festival, which is held in September.  Our theme this year will be nesting, so if you have any disused birds’ nests lying around please let either Craig Holmes or Pat Redford have (or borrow) them.  Keep you eyes open for failed or disused nests in the wild too, but please do not disturb or damage any active nests.  We need around 100 nests to build the envisaged stand, but have only received 6 to date.