Story and images: Ed Meyer
The upland game birds in the mountain fynbos above Voëlklip have had a very successful breeding season in 2015-’16.
Four or five pairs of Cape Spurfowl regularly visit our garden on the edge of the Fernkloof Reserve and have all produced at least two clutches of chicks from August through to January.
Initial clutch size has been on average five, however, the chicks seem to be most vulnerable to predators in the first few weeks before they can “flutter fly”. Clutch numbers raised to maturity average between two and three.
We recently witnessed, sadly, a mature young spurfowl being spectacularly caught by an African Goshawk, taken up into our red gum tree and devoured in our full view – a special sighting.
Helmeted Guineafowl have also bred successfully this past season. A very relaxed pair arrived in January with six juveniles, who were around with one parent bird for a few weeks.
Next thing was the mother arriving proudly with sixteen day-old chicks, her second clutch for the season. The juveniles disappeared and both parents then took care of the large brood of chicks.
We have had fun watching the development of the youngsters, but again sadly, predators have taken their toll and after two weeks their numbers are down to ten. They can now scurry for cover and dart away when there is any risk, so we watch with interest to see how many will survive.