BirdLife SA’s Birding Big Day 2018


In case you are not aware, BirdLife SA’s Birding Big Day event takes place on Saturday 24 November.  Teams from all around South Africa will be taking part in this exciting event. For details of how it works and registration, please see

Participants who take part in our own MBBD will have a head start as they will have sussed out the best birding spots and should know where to spend their time.

HBC will support any teams made up of our members by paying the registration fee of R300 per team.  Let’s put HBC on the map this year by doing well!

Mini Birding Big Day (MBBD) 2018


This year’s MBBD will take place over 12 hours (5:30 am to 5:30 pm) on Sunday 4 November, within a 40 km radius of Central Hermanus.  Teams will comprise 4 members and the usual rules will apply;  at least three members of each team must confirm each species identified and identification can be by sight or call.  You can only use bird calls if you have the relevant bird on your life list, i.e. you cannot use a bird call for something you have never seen.

Please submit your team name and members to me at by the end of October.

All participants (who by now will be thoroughly exhausted!) should meet at Fernkloof at 5:30 pm to compare notes and celebrate the winning team.  Bring along a drink or two as you are likely to be thirsty!

2018 MBBD Area

MBBD 2018 Competition Area

Liuwa Plains – Zambia, Birding through the Seasons

The next meeting of the HBC will take place in the Fernkloof Hall on Wednesday 17 October at 18h30.  It will be preceded by the usual drinks at 18h00.  Our speaker will be Gavin Turner.  Be sure to attend what will be a most interesting presentation!  Gavin and Cynthia Turner are old hands at the Liuwa Plains.  They write,

“Liuwa Plains is a remote National Park in Western Zambia best known for its

wildebeest migration, but has a wide variety and large masses of birds, which

for us is its main attraction.  As such it has become one of our favourites.

We have been there 4 times, in both the wet and dry seasons, which are quite  

different, and the presentation will cover these visits.”

Tierhoek Outing


Sixteen HBC members enjoyed a great three day outing to the Robertson area in early October, an ideal time of the year with the fresh green in the vineyards and fruit orchards and the birds chirping happily with the joys of spring.  This also meant that most of the males were in their most colourful breeding plumage.  We were based at Tierhoek Cottages on an organic fruit farm, surrounded by majestic  mountains and with great views down the beautiful Tierhoek Valley.   Our birding around the cottages and on the farm yielded some 35 or more species on the first day.  Birding specials were the Verreaux’s Eagle, Jackal Buzzard and Pale Chanting Goshawk, White-backed Mousebird, and the sunbirds and more common flycatchers and Robin Chats.

On Day 2 we moved down to a privately owned wine and fruit farm on the banks of the Breede River.   We enjoyed the privacy of a lovely grassed picnic site  and were able to bird in the vineyards, where we were lucky to see the fairly rare Cinnamon- breasted Bunting, African Stonechats, White -browed Robin chats,  sunbirds and other Karoo species.  On the Breede river banks  there were a variety of waterbirds, Swee and Common Waxbills and a Lesser Honeyguide.   Many colourful birds were enjoyed, but without doubt the most colourful and unusual sighting we had was of a swimming ‘Puffadder’, which swam across the wide river and came ashore at our picnic site!   By the end of the second day our bird count had increased to 76 and it was a contented bunch of birders who enjoyed their sundowners and braai in a great and tranquil setting at Fig Tree Cottage.

Day 3 we left the comfortable Tierhoek cottages a bit reluctantly to get down to the Cape Nature Reserve ‘Vrolijkheid’ near Mc Gregor to do some birding in the Karoo and Renosterveld habitat, which was very colourful and supported a number of different bird species.   We walked along the ‘Agama trail’ to the two bird hides and two separate dams, seeing many challenging LBJ species, which taxed our identification skills!  Specials that we saw here were displaying Clapper Larks, Fairy Flycatcher, Grey- backed Cisticola and the spectacular Red Bishops and Weavers at the dams.  Most of us returned to Hermanus via Stormsvlei where the count cut-off.  We ended the three day outing with a fairly respectable count of 99!  Thanks to Anne Philip for keeping the record.

Many thanks also to all the ladies for their contributions to the evening meals, to the men who braaied and to our two main photographers John Bowman and Jill Eckstein, whose excellent images accompany this report.

Ed Meyer


Happening from the 15th February 2019 to 17th February 2019


The SANParks Honorary Rangers West Coast Region in conjunction with the West Coast National Park (WCNP) invites you to participate in the WADER BASH 2019.

The SanParks Honorary Rangers are a group of passionate unpaid volunteers who give freely of their time and skills to support conservation in South African National Parks. This event serves to promote the WCNP and also improve knowledge of birding and conservation in general.

Here is your chance to experience birdlife in the WCNP which includes the Langebaan lagoon, a RamsarSite – a birding hotspot for migrant waders of international importance. All levels of birding experiences are catered for and your team of 4 accompanied by a bird expert will try to identify as many birds in a 24 hour period as possible. This fun-filled weekend offers you excellent birding, camaraderie, closer access to the Lagoon and a gentle competition in a beautiful setting.

The Wader Bash starts with a briefing and meeting your fellow participants on Friday afternoon at 17h00, followed by the 24 hour period from 17h30 on Friday afternoon until 17h30 on Saturday afternoon. You will then be a guest at the special prize-giving dinner at Geelbek on Saturday evening, and at Sunday morning’s entertaining talks by two prominent ornithologists.
All proceeds from this fun-filled weekend are used directly for SanParks Projects.

WHEN?? 15, 16 & 17 FEBRUARY 2019


COST?? Only R950 per person for a fun-filled Birding Weekend

Beverley Moll ( or phone/sms/Whatsapp 084 505 8967


Outing to Gabrielskloof


Around thirty birders attended our monthly walk at Gabrielskloof.  We were met by Barry Anderson, who took us to the farm and introduced us to the area, after which we were free to move around as we pleased.  This gave us the opportunity to explore a couple of habitats, before returning to our starting point for tea and a final update of our checklist.  We were pleased to note that we had observed or heard no less than 53 species.

These were;  Bar-throated Apalis;  Southern Red Bishop;  Yellow Bishop;  Bokmakerie;  Cape Bulbul;  Cape Bunting;  Denham’s Bustard;  Jackal Buzzard;  Brimstone Canary;  Cape Canary;  Familiar Chat; Grey-backed Cisticola; White-breasted Cormorant; Blue Crane;  Cape Crow;  Pied Crow;  Klaas’s Cuckoo; Cape Turtle Dove;  Red-eyed Dove;  Fork-tailed Drongo;  Yellow-billed Duck;  Common Fiscal;  Egyptian Goose;  Spur-winged Goose;  Little Grebe;  Helmeted Guineafowl;  Black-headed Heron;  Hadeda Ibis;  Blacksmith Lapwing;  Large-billed Lark;  Speckled Mousebird;  Speckled Pigeon;  African Pipit;  Karoo Prinia;  White-necked Raven;  Karoo Scrub Robin;  Cape Robin-Chat;  Cape Shoveller;  Cape Sparrow;  Southern Grey-headed Sparrow;  Cape Spurfowl;  African Stonechat;  Malachite Sunbird; Orange-breasted Sunbird;  Southern Double-collared Sunbird;  Greater Striped Swallow;  White-rumped Swift;  Spotted Thick-knee;  Cape Wagtail;  Cape Weaver;  Cape White-eye;  Pin-tailed Whydah.

The return journey along the Swartrivier road was undertaken individually and the species for this section were not included in the Gabrielskloof count, but there will have been many additional species along this well-known birding route.  Challenge participants will no doubt have added considerably to their lists for October.

We all owe Gabrielskloof and Barry a sincere ‘thank you’ for allowing us to spend an excellent morning on this great property.


A letter from Barbara


What a battle to get members to participate and educate themselves!

Graham and I went out this afternoon and thought maybe the following short account of our birding might enthuse one or two more members.

Day 1 of the HBC Challenge

Graham and I decided to kick off the 2018/19 Challenge with an afternoon’s birding on day 1.

Our first stop was the Vermont Salt Pan, which has quite a lot of water in at present.

Apart from all the usual species, we ticked off Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Greater Flamingo, Moorhen, Little, as well as Great Crested Grebe.

We then spent a leisurely 2.5hours along the Swart Rivier Road where specials identified included Burchell’s Coucal, Namaqua Dove and White-faced Duck.

Our total came to a respectable 54 species identified.

We are not participating in the Challenge to win, but to keep our eyes and ears tuned to the birds in our area, to enjoy the beautiful Overberg in its green and gold splendour and to support a club initiative.

The committee arranges these activities to help members to learn about our feathered friends.

Why don’t you challenge yourself and at the same time improve your birding knowledge?

Where are the Challengers?


Our annual Challenge starts today and we have had only 10 entrants so far.  Considering our membership of over 200 birders, one can’t help but wonder why there are not more of you wanting to participate in what is, after all, a fun event which encourages you all to do some local birding and improve you local knowledge.

Come on – if you consider yourself a birder, then at least show some interest!  The committee and certain members put a lot of work into this event and we do it so that the members can have an interesting project in which to participate.  The map and details of the Challenge appear in a previous post on this site.

Walk at Gabrielskloof


Our monthly walk takes place at Gabrielskloof next Thursday, the 4th October.  Please meet at the Onrus Trading Post (OTP) at 7:30 am to consolidate transport.  Barry Anderson of Gabrielskloof will be our guide and the journey to and from the venue should also provide good birding.