The last stretch of our tour included a quick stop at Hermanus for Whale watching. There were no whales but there were a good few birds. A couple of nights at the Devon Valley Hotel near Stellenbosch and three nights in Cape Town. Wherever I looked there were good places to go birding but you have to keep these obsessions in check. It was a holiday not a birding trip. For example my top place to visit in the area was the Strandfontien Sewage Works but I just couldn't see anyway of getting it onto Sue's two day agenda for Cape Town.
Hermanus continued the theme of touristy and up market but it was pleasant to walk around and it did give me a another bird and a couple of Gulls.
The Grey-headed Gull below is a Juvenile, probably second summer. It will develop a yellow eye as an adult.
I saw plenty of the South African national bird the Blue Crane but all from the coach so no pictures and there were a host of other ducks and water birds on various lakes and ponds that I couldn't stop to identify. Perhaps the only other one that I can claim is the Red-knobbed Coot. I didn't see the red knobs but there doesn't appear to be any other Coots in South Africa to confuse it with.
The hotel was good and again had some decent gardens. The most common bird was the Egyptian Goose. At least in South Africa they really do appear to be wild.
I was out again at dawn but as before the early morning light, or lack of it, made photography difficult. Plenty of birds about but the first picture I managed to get was this Olive Thrush.
Pictures of the Cape Robin-chat, Southern Boubou and Pied Crow are not worth posting although this female Common Fiscal was sitting out in some better light.
|Female Common Fiscal|
I missed a raptor that shot out of the trees, across the lawn and back into trees on the other side. Any raptor would do but I was betting on a Goshawk or something similar. When it reappeared from the trees I was ready for it and got a few pictures. I tried hard to match it to another raptor but I can only make it a Peregrine Falcon. All the raptors in Africa and I get one that I can see a few miles from home in the UK.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens was a great place to visit. They have a resident pair of Spotted Eagle Owls that have nested there for years.This species seems to be very tolerant of people. I had already seen one roosting in a tree in a busy car-park in Franschhoek.
The mother and chick were on the ground underneath a tree nesting/roosting in some undergrowth and quite well concealed. The male was up in the tree. The only protection for the nest was a six foot wide taped off area around the nest. It seems amazing that with all the people walking past they do not get scared away. Apparently you do get some people that disturb the mother to try to get her to open her eyes. I am told that some of them end up having a close up face to face with the male.
|Spotted Eagle Owl|
Much as I would have liked an open eye shot I did not disturb him.
I managed a few more life ticks around the gardens including the Cape Sugarbird and I am sure that if we had been able to follow the trails up onto the flanks of Table Mountain we would have found a lot more.
|Orange-breasted Sunbird - in the mist on Table Mountain|
The final few birds come from a trip down to the Cape of Good Hope. Although I did not photograph it I saw my first Ostrich running free in the National Park there. I am told that if they are in the park they are as close as you will ever get to a wild bird.
Just before Cape Point we saw hundreds of Terns resting out on the rocks. I searched them all but there was only one species there, the Swift Tern.
And finally Penguins at the colony at Boulders Beach
I just cannot stop thinking about the five or six hundred that I didn't get to see!