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.