Whos keeping an eye on me....

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

South Africa 2016 - Hermanus (Whale Watching)

The last leg of the holiday (for me!, as Liz would stay another week and do some touring with a friend), was to the Whale Watching town of Hermanus. We would stop by at Agulhas and try for a special bird at Rooiels.

The southern most tip of the African Continent

The drive from Agulhas to Hermanus gives stunning views of the Babilonstoring Mountains 

somewhere along the way a Jackal Buzzard

and a Steppe Buzzard
We arrived in Hermanus and stayed at the wonderful Hermanus Beach Villa guest house, literally yards from the coastal path with views of the Southern Right Whales.
Not a bad view from the front of our accommodation...... and the Whale information board along the coastal path

Close ups of the Southern Right Whales

Just above the town is Fernkloof NR, we didn't have time to walk the trails or passes but spend some time at the lower levels in the gardens and picked up some common birds.
Cape White-eye
Cape Sugarbird 
Southern Double-collared Sunbird
Malachite Sunbird 

female Malchite Sunbird
Olive Thrush
What should have been a quick trip to Rooiels took longer than expected, firstly I somehow missed the only turn for the town and then the bird was a little trickier than I anticipated. But three hours later we got it.... or should I say them as we saw a pair.

Somewhere out there is a Cape Rockjumper.  Along way off!

Heavily cropped

Last stop Stony point  penguin Colony ay Bettys Bay.

Monday, 10 October 2016

South Africa 2016 - Southern Coast: De Hoop NR

We had visited De Hoop NR in 2013 but only spent a single night there which only gave us a snippet of what was on offer.

We travelled from Cape Town via the N2 to Swellendam where we stopped for an excellent lunch at a small coffee shop called MonKens Coffee Shop (53 Voortrek St) where we came away satisfied after an excellent (and rather large) lunch and with three oil paintings chosen from the many that adorn the walls from local artists that are for sale at very affordable prices.

We headed to De Hoop along the dirt track via Spitskop and Ouplaas. The whole 40km journey passes through farmland which I hoped would give me a good chance to pick up some Larks, Pipits and Raptors. As it happened the journey didn't disappoint. Capped Wheatear sat on virtually every fence post available, while I managed two life birds along the way with Agulhas Long Billed and Large Billed Larks.

Agulhas Long-billed Lark
Large-billed Lark
Capped Wheatear
the raptors didn't disappoint either
Yellow-billed Kite
Jackal Buzzard
Rock Kestrel
The drive from Swellendam to De Hoop passes 45km of farmland along 4x4 tracks.......

 The stunning Blue Crane were usually in pairs but we managed to find a group of 9


Cape Longclaw
The view of De Hoop NR looking down onto the reserve sitting on the banks of the estuary, while in the far distance the sand dunes and sea.
We stayed at the wonderful Otter Suits which were surrounded by the local wildlife which included Ostritch, Eland, Cape Mountain Zebra, Bontebok and Chacma Baboon
Not bad for the garden......Eland with Cattle Egrets

Ostrich ....... Beep beep! or is that a Roadrunner??
while a crowned Lapwing stays at a safe distance in the foreground.
Chacma Baboon.... noisy neighbours
Cape Mountain Zebra
around the rondavals  and the estuary we had Cape Spurfowl, Cape Sugarbird, African Pipit, Brown Throated Martins, Pearl Breasted Swallows, Alpine Swifts, Pied Starlings, Cape Canaries, Yellow Canaries, Capped Wheatear, Cape Bulbul, Caspian Tern, Cape Shoveler, a single juvenile African Fish Eagle, Greater Flamingos, Little and Great Crested Grebe
and this confiding pair of Southern Boubou

White Necked Ravens
Cape Robin Chat
Grey Headed Gull
Great White Pelican, and if you  look closely you will just about make about an African Darter
casting a reflection.....

A drive around the reserve on a Quad Bike nature trek was exhilarating and our guide  Louis was an excellent companion for the morning.
Later in the morning we drove down to Koppie Allen and the Sand dunes as of course De Hoop is noted for its excellent Whale Watching as dozens of Southern Rights Whales come into the coastal waters to give birth.
We were fortunate to see 6 individuals in the area while we were down on the Dunes.
Koppie Allen..... a good place for refreshments
White Horses

Southern Right Whale
a few birds displayed well down at the coast with Swift Terns, Karoo Prinias, Cape Bunting, Familiar Chat, Greater Double-Collared Sunbirds and a pair of African Oystercatchers
Cape Bunting
 Karoo Prinia
 African Oystercatchers
Back at the reserve this Fiscal Flycatcher tried its best to eat most of the annoying midges while we sat out and enjoyed a beer before the sun set.
Bar-throated Apalis

Looking down onto the estuary from the Otter Suites while the early morning sea mist sits on the water and a Cape Robin-chat looks on in silhouette. 
A fine 6am start to any morning
Familiar Chat in the car park
and on the thatched roof of the restaurant
Just before we left this Acacia Pied Barbet let me get one last image
Next stop Hermanus and some seriously close Whale Watching