Strandfontein Outing


A visit to Strandfontein offers members the chance to see some rare birds, as a number of them have recently been recorded at this famous locality.  Those wishing to attend should meet at the Onrus Trading Post at 7 am next Thursday (the 6th April) to consolidate transport. Barbara will lead the outing and Challengers should use this opportunity to augment their lists.

Please ensure that you have sufficient food and drinks to see yourself through till around 2 pm, when we hope to be back in Hermanus.

Birding at Vrolijkheid Reserve


The club’s 2017 Challenge is not a competition, unless you are RH or MF!

Mike Ford, the forerunner at the end of February, left on Sunday for 3 months to man the Aras bird ringing station in Turkey for the 3rd time.  In a last minute effort to get as many species as possible for his challenge list, Graham and I were invited to join him and Valerie on an overnight trip to Vrolijkheid Reserve near McGregor. The aim was to get as many Karoo habitat species as possible.

We knew we were in the Karoo when we saw our first Pale Chanting Goshawk.  We stopped along the road, picking up good species like Cape Long-billed Lark and Karoo Chat and arrived at the reserve just before 10:00.  The day was warming up and we immediately set off to the hides, being greeted by an Acacia Pied Barbet. Along the way we picked up Dusky Sunbird, Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler and White-backed Mousebird.  The waterhole at the first hide was pretty empty but there were a couple of waders about, including Black-winged Stilts and Little Stints.  This was also where we saw our first Fairy Flycatcher, one of my favourite little birds.

The day was getting unbearably hot so we checked into our chalet, Jakkalskuil, and tried to keep cool. This proved just about impossible and the ceiling-fans did little to help. A cold shower was the answer.  Eventually we could bear it no more and opted to go for a drive so that we could use the car’s air-conditioner.  The next day we heard that the temperature was 42°!  A huge fire in the Langeberg did not help.

At the Robertson water purification plant we saw a number of ducks, including a pair of South African Shelduck, Cape and Red-billed Teals and Lesser Swamp-Warbler. Next on our list was a spot under a bridge where we had previously seen Barn Owls. We made a hasty retreat as we encountered first a group of guys loitering and then a group seeking respite from the heat, including a stark naked man!

Back at Vrolijkheid we drove to the dam at the left of the main entrance but there wasn’t much of interest, except a pair of Water Thick-knees.  Home for a rest and a braai.

Thursday morning was very overcast with bad light but we were up at dawn and went for a long walk, first to the dam on the left, then to the first hide by which time it started to warm up. Karoo Scrub-Robins were everywhere.  Highlights of the morning were Pearl-breasted Swallow, Rufous-Eared Warbler, a Layard’s Tit-Babbler identified on call and a Klaas’ Cuckoo. While looking at the Cuckoo, a Spotted Eagle-Owl flew by!

Mike added 12 species to his challenge list and Graham and I double that to ours.

The dip of the trip was a Namaqua Dove and I have a feeling Mike boarded the plane on Sunday still moaning “I want a Namaqua Dove”!   Mike, I hope you see many beautiful Lifers at Aras to make up for the dip.

In conclusion I would like to have a word with the newer, less experienced birding members of our club. The only way you will learn about birds and birding spots around you is to go out there and find them!  Join the club’s First Thursday outings. Enter the challenge for your own enjoyment. Enter Mini Birding Big Day, go out and have fun with a friend or two and train yourself in identifying the species.  No, you probably won’t win, but you would have learnt an awful lot.  Truth: when I went on my first ever MBBD, I was lucky to be in Mike’s team, but when he called a ‘crow’ a White-Necked Raven I thought he was bonkers.  I’ve learnt a lot since then.  See you on the 2nd at the MBBD braai!!

Barbara Palmer

Repairs to the Heronry at Vermont


Some guys just can’t resist a day in the mud, especially when it is accompanied by the fine aroma of well weathered Guano!!

Guy and John, with assistance from Vuyo, have fixed up the heronry by adding new branches for future nests.  This has resulted in a much upgraded platform and members are encouraged to get down to the Vermont pan to do some birding and see the benefits of their hard work. Well done!!  A smelly and dirty job done with absolute dedication to the cause and the HBC.



The Macnaughts’ account of their recent trip prompted us to send a brief account of ours to Addo last month.  Hope it may be of interest. 


Tony & Heather


Our first stop was at Ebb-and-Flow in Wilderness – a place much visited by Hermanus Bird Club over the years.  Our log cabin overlooked the river and we didn’t have to leave our deck to see a lot of birds: seven spectacular Knysna Turacos flew into the tree opposite to be followed by a Brown-hooded Kingfisher who stayed there awhile.  A beautiful Purple Heron stalked in the reeds – we had never been aware before of the intricate pattern and colours on the head and neck and the purple on its body.  Usually when we have seen them they have been in flight and just look brown. Black-headed Orioles called and Saw-wings flew by us, and an African Hoopoe pecked around in the grass.

Prince Albert was not great for birds but we were interested to see that the Red Bishops were still in breeding plumage in February, whereas in Fisherhaven they had reverted to their non-breeding plumage many weeks before.
Graaf Reinet produced Masked Weavers and not a lot of other birds, but a lovely town to visit.
We had never been fortunate to see many birds in Addo: maybe the elephants got in the way or – more likely – we didn’t get up early enough.  However, this time we were rewarded with close-up views of a pair of Secretarybirds and also a pair of Denham’s Bustards.  In the dark one night a pair of nightjars flew up from the road (presumably fiery-necked) and, some creatures we had never seen before – two spring hares leaped about like little kangaroos.

Then back to Wilderness where we stayed in Kingfisher Country House which is well-known to birders.  The owners feed the birds as well as their guests and while we had our breakfast, turacos came down to the feeders almost within arms-length of us.  They were joined by Chorister Robin-Chats, Fork-tailed Drongos, Forest Canaries Common and Swee Waxbills,and Cape Whiteeyes.  Very difficult to concentrate on breakfast, but a delight to see these birds at such close range.

The House is near the lakes and it was easy to drive along to the hides.  A Painted Snipe had been reported on Rondevlei but it must have gone back into the reeds by the time we got there.  However, we enjoyed Glossy Ibis, Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Stilts and flamingos.

Finally back to Fisherhaven where the sunbirds were waiting for us.



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. We will announce the meeting place for tomorrow morning’s excursion tonight.

Tuesday 23rd May. At 08:00 we 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 consolidate transport at 08h00 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, but before we do that, we will have an audit of the sightings we have had.

25th  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.

As usual the group will be in catering teams and they will create the starter, vegetable, salads and potatoes for one of the three evenings.  These teams will be allocated once we know the names of all on the trip. Breakfast and lunches will be enjoyed in your cottage.

The cost per person is R590.00 sharing a two bedroom cottage with a bathroom (shower only) and lounge/dining area. The kitchen is equipped with Eskom power points for all appliances including fridge/freezer, microwave and toaster, as well as an electric oven and gas hob with four burners. The reports that I have had are that the accommodation is lovely.

Payments must be by EFT please – if not, cheques should have R40.00 added and if cash the cost is an additional R60.00 – bank charges are huge and we make very little on these tours. Please note that if you cancel for any reason we will charge a handling fee of 10% IF we can find a replacement – if we can’t find a replacement then sadly we cannot refund at all.

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 Buffelsjag River, take the left-hand turn-off for Suurbraak/Barrydale. Turn left and continue through the town of Suurbraak and past the turn-off for Barrydale via Tradouwpass. 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.

If you want to join this outing please mail me at – as usual first come first served – payment will be required upon confirmation please as we need to make payment to Cape Nature by the month end.     Please include your date of birth and Wild card number when replying.


Mini Big Birding Day


MBBD Map 2017

Map showing area covered by the MBBD

We are nearing the Mini Big Birding Day and we would welcome some more entries.  The day is NOT the Olympic games where everybody hopes to win a medal, but a fantastic way to improve your knowledge about the local birds and birding spots and to hone your observation skills.

Please think again and let me have your entries as soon as you can – the date is 2nd April and its 06h00 to 18h00 followed by a braai at the hall when the days sightings will be shared amongst the participants.



HBC Library


The following titles are available through our inhouse Library which is kept by Craig.


BOOK NAME                                      AUTHOR  


Birds of the Lowveld  by  Peter Ginn

Birds of the KNP   by  Kenneth Newman

Bird behaviour  by   Robert Burton

Birds of Southern Africa  by  O P M Prozesky

Chamberlain LBJ’s  by   Faansie Peacock

Camera Studies of SA Birds  by   C J Uys

Colour Encyclopaedia of Birds  by   Euan Dunn

Distribution & Status of Birds of Kruger  by  A C Kemp

Garden Birds of SA   by   Ginn/McIllron

Garden Birds of SA  by   Geoff Lockwood

Gardening with Birds   by   Tom Spence

More Garden Birds of SA  by   Ginn/McIllron

Mondi Southern Birds   by  Petersen/Tripp

Migrating Raptors of the World  by   Keith Bildstein

Roadside Birds of SA  by   Kenneth Newman

Seabird Identification Guide  by   Peter Harrison

Sibley Birding Basics   by  David Sibley

South African Birds  by   Leonard Gill

SA Birds – Photographic guide   by   Ian Sinclair

The Birds around us   by   Richard Liversidge

The Bird- Master of Flight  by   Harrison/Loxton

Vanishing Eagles   by    Philip Burton

Wildfowl-Ducks,Geese & Swans   by    Madge/Burn

Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas of SA




V1 To Fly or not to Fly

V2 The Mastery of Flight

V3 The Insatiable Appetite

V4 Meat Eaters

V5 Fishing for a Living

V6 Signals and Songs

V7 Finding Partners

V8 The Demands of the Egg

V9 The Problems of Parenthood

V10 The Limits of Endurance

V12 Okavango Magic

V13/14 Sasol Birds of Kruger

V16 Attenborough in Paradise

V18 S A Bird Sounds

V19 S A Bird Sounds

V20 City Slickers

V21 Raptor Force

V22 Bird Song of Southern Africa

V23 Winged Safari

V24 An introduction to SA Birds




C1 Bird Calls for Beginners

C2 S A Bird Sounds

C3 The Hermanus Cliff Path Experience

April Meeting


Please note that the April Meeting will be on 19 April and will commence with a Special General Meeting to consider the matter of affiliation with Birdlife SA. This will be at 18h00.

It will be followed by the talk by Giselle Murison, who is the Project Manager for the Western Cape Estuaries Conservation Project. Funded by the WWF- Elizabeth Harding Bequest, the project is focused on formal protected area expansion and on improving conservation action at priority estuarine IBAs within the Fynbos. She is based in Cape Town, within reach of the initial project sites identified through the preliminary scoping phase of the project, namely the Berg River, Klein River and Bot-Kleinmond River Estuaries.