We enjoyed a straightforward trip on tar roads from Hermanus alongside the bright yellow fields of Canola, through Napier and Bredasdorp toward Struisbaai. A Yellow-billed Kite was our first special sighting followed by close encounters with a Steppe Buzzard and an aerial battle between a Black-shouldered Kite and a raptor which we could not identify. Once the family visit was concluded we turned towards home and knew we could not miss the opportunity to go ‘off-road’ onto the Overberg gravel roads. We made a decision to take the Elim turnoff outside Struisbaai towards Baardskeerdersbos. What an exhilarating decision it turned out to be.
The road borders with the Agulas National Park and the wetlands alongside the road were soaked with water, and we were pleased to have made the journey after a few days of dry weather!
What a treat those wetlands are – from the side of the road as we drove along we identified the below specials in abundance:
2 Fish Eagles within 50 metres of the car, 14 (maybe more) Purple Swamphen foraging around like chickens 5 metres away, a Marsh Harrier quietly surveying his territory near Zoetendal Wine Farm, 6 Denham’s Bustard, Black-headed and Grey Herons, Pied and Brown-hooded Kingfishers, White-faced and Yellow-billed Ducks, Red Bishops and many Blue Crane, and both Crowned and Blacksmith Lapwings – around 35 other species were added to our ‘spontaneous Sunday’ list.
Unfortunately we had to turn back outside Elim as the river water across the road was too deep, but as it turned out the road through Elim towards Wolvengat was covered with stunning Proteas in full bloom which attracted all the Sunbirds. We had a great sighting of a Peregrine Falcon about 60 metres away, which gave us a good 30 seconds viewing before flying off- we saw around 48 species all in all.
If you can find the time, drive out to those wetlands during the next 6 weeks while the water and the birds are up close and personal.
The gravel roads were fine to use – we joined up with the Pearly Beach tar road, and returned to Hermanus through Gansbaai – another wonderful Overberg outdoor opportunity gobbled up with delight!