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

WEST COAST NP WADER BASH 2019

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

WEST COAST NP WADER BASH 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

WHERE?? GEELBEK STABLES WCNP

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

INTERESTED??
FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO BOOK YOUR PLACE CONTACT
Beverley Moll (waderbash2019.wcnp@gmail.com) or phone/sms/Whatsapp 084 505 8967

 

Outing to Gifberg in November

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At Gifberg Farm

A trip has been arranged to Gifberg, near Vanrhynsdorp by John  Saunders who will lead the outing.

12 – 15 November 2018

We will stay at Gifberg Holiday Farm.

Previous visits have proved that this is a very popular venue. Surrounded by mountains just over the Gifberg pass, this is a beautiful setting and we should have some excellent birding.

The accommodation that has been reserved consists of two four bedroom cottages (two bathrooms in each cottage) plus one two bedroom cottage (one bathroom)

The planned itinerary is as follows:-

Day 1 – Monday, 12th November.

We travel up the N7 towards Vanrhynsdorp (approx 4 hours drive) and then 3 km before you reach Vanrhynsdorp turn right following the Gifberg Farm signs (a further 30 – 45 minutes drive)

Meet at 15.30 and do the Pot Hole 2 km walk, with a few ups and downs.

Day 2 – Tuesday, 13th November

We have three options.

1.The Gifberg Trail – 9 km    (This trail is more strenuous, taking 4 hours to complete. It takes you through some spectacular rock formations about midway. It is suggested that you wear long trousers as the bush scratches your legs severely.)

2. The Hamerkop Trail – 4 km   (This is an easy trail and takes about two hours to complete. This trail is ideal for the less experienced hiker. A natural pool, in which you can take a cooling swim, forms part of the trail).

3. The 4 x 4 trail   (The 11 km long route will take you to the Doring river. The same route will get you back, but the scenery and magnificent view will give you a whole new perspective of the area.)

Day 3 – Wednesday, 14th November

Meet at 0800. Drive to Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve (R30 entrance fee per person)  – 10 kilometres outside of the little town of Nieuwoudtville, situated between Van Rhynsdorp and Calvinia.

Day 4 – Thursday, 15th November

After breakfast drive home after a very exhilarating and enjoyable trip.

Prices per person will be R875.00 per person. R1750.00 two people sharing ( Double or Twin beds). Bookings will be on a ‘first come first served’ basis.  A  50% deposit is required for us to secure this unique, quality accommodation, so if you are keen to join this Hermanus Bird Club outing please confirm your booking as soon as possible. The required deposit can be paid into the HBC bank account once your place has been secured.

This is a self-catering trip as usual with evening braais together.

Please book with Craig at pcsholmes@telkomsa.net

HBC Outing to Red Stone Hills and Die Hel – May 2018

 

“On the 7th of May 2018,  eight couples headed east to Calitzdorp for a four day birding outing in the Swartberg area.  Led by our Chairman Craig and Sue, the group included the Bowmans, Fynns, Meyers, Palmers, Pitlos, Pybuses and the Saunders.

Outside Calitzdorp we turned off the R62 towards Kruisrivier, driving through productive farms emblazoned with glorious autumn colours. The cool, rustic cottages welcomed us at Red Stone Hills and we enjoyed a birding walk around the farm, although the birds were a little scarce after the long drought.  Back at the farm’s central entertainment area we soon washed down the dust and enjoyed our braai on the excellent coals prepared by Graham and the starters, salads and desserts prepared by team members for our evening meal.

Next morning a group of 11 hikers were driven by tractor and were dropped off at the start of a 7,5 km trail around the unique Red Stone Hills outcrops. Graham shared his geological knowledge with explanations of the rock formations we walked through. Birds again seemed fairly limited, but our count improved in the late afternoon as we drove for coffee to the ‘Gallery’ at Kruisrivier.  At the evening bird count, our efficient recorder Barbara advised that our numbers were significantly down on the previous visit 5 years ago.

Day 3 saw us drive up the impressive Swartberg Pass and we stopped for our coffee break near the turnoff to ‘Die Hel’ on a road that was described on the sign board as ‘Very Dangerous’! The views of ‘Gamkakloof ‘ as we descended down the steep zigzag road into the valley were spectacular.  We stayed in the historic cottages of the original resident farmers of the valley, beautifully restored by Cape Nature and spread out in the Acacia bush, which sustained many bush birds, kudu and various other wildlife.   Birding was once again quite challenging, the numbers being lower than on the last visit, but according to Barbara’s count we landed up with a combined total of 81 species, not too far off the previous occasion.  We just enjoyed seeing some of the Karoo specials in the bush habitat, so the numbers were not that crucial.  One of the birding highlights were the pair of Verreaux’s Eagles that circled overhead on a few occasions.

Our shared evening meals, the camaraderie around the braai fires and the good company of like-minded birding friends made it a most memorable experience for us all.   The brilliant , unpolluted night skies were amazing!   John Saunders entertained and informed us of the various galaxies using his pointer and his wide knowledge of the constellations.

All in all , it was an excellent HBC outing and our thanks go particularly to Chairman Craig and Sue for organising it and to everyone one who was on the trip for their contributions.”

Ed Meyer.

REDSTONE HILLS and DIE HEL

 

WE HAVE HAD A CANCELLATION FOR A COUPLE OR TWO SINGLE PEOPLE – IF YOU ARE INTERESTED PLEASE MAIL ME ASAP at pcsholmes@telkomsa.net

We have arranged for a special trip away and this is notice long in advance. This is due to the difficulty in getting accommodation and stringent reservation protocols by Cape Nature.

The itinerary is as follows:

May 7th  Make our way to Calitzdorp and on to Redstone Hills where we will spend the next two nights. We will explore the farm and the area around the farm looking for the many species in the area. On our last visits we have managed to see over 70 species

May 9th  We will leave Redstone Hills and make our way up the Swartberg Pass – at the top we will turn left and head off for Die Hel – a two hour drive part of which is a very steep and winding road down to Die Hel and our accommodation in the Cape Nature restored cottages.

We will spend the next two days exploring this amazing place – birding is difficult but I am sure we will have some good sightings.

As usual we will share accommodation and we will make sure that we have braais ready to cook on each evening.  We will have catering teams to ensure that the evening meals have salads etc each evening. You would need to bring your own breakfast and lunches and of course drinks and meat for the braais.

The road down to Die Hel is a gravel road and it is recommended that vehicles with high clearances only use the pass. Having said that I have seen VW Golf’s in the valley but higher ground clearance would be clever.

The price of this trip is R1025.00 pp – or R256.25 per night – a bargain say I – BUT I do need a 50% deposit upon confirmation as I have to make payment to Cape Nature and Redstone Hills. If you are under 60 I am afraid the price will change as this is senior citizens rate. I will also need valid Wildcard numbers with the bookings please – no Wildcard means that there is a Conservation fee to be paid.

Bookings are on a first come first served basis.

Craig

Outing to De Hoop

 

The weather, though overcast, did not result in those who went to De Hoop being downcast.  Spotting waders at De Hoop was part of the fun had by 16 of us.  In total 111 species were counted.

Anne Philip

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On the Klein River with the Lady Stanford

 

The Stanford Bird Club very kindly invited a representative of HBC to join them on their inaugural cruise down the Klein River in the newly launched ‘Lady Stanford’ and Renee and I were the lucky participants.  We set off at 7:30 am this morning along with around 20 local birders and spent three and a half hours enjoying the wonderful birding along the river.

The Lady Stanford is a purpose built river boat and it provided a wonderful platform from which to enjoy the abundant birdlife that the region has to offer.  We saw no less than 70 species.  There were many Giant Kingfishers, abundant African Darters, all the Grebes, three Herons, Falmingos galore and much more.  The juvenile African Harrier-Hawk was a highlight as it pecked at its branch, and we saw two Osprey, as well a s a number of Fish Eagles.

At one point, a Bontebok on the bank with a large piece of vegetation attached to its horns kept us entertained.  Above it, a beautiful Common Buzzard looked down and wondered what all the fuss was about!

Thank you to Peter Hochfelden and the Stanford Club for an enthralling morning!!

Ronnie

Any Interest in a Pelagic Trip?

 

John Saunders has made some inquiries into the possibility of a pelagic trip for club members.  It appears that the costs are around R2000 per person for a one day outing from the Simonstown harbour.  Participants would need to board at 7:00 am, so a very early start from Hermanus or an overnight stay in CT also form part of the equation.  There is also the possibility that the trip may have to be held over for a day or so depending on the weather.

Would members wishing to pursue this option, which needs a minimum of 6 people, please let Craig know asap.