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.