After we had picked up some people in Observatory at Koornhoop Guest house and Villa on 10 Durbanville Guest house, we hit the road towards Darling. Despite of a misty day we saw a few beautiful flowers in the Tienie Versfeld Nature Reserve outside Darling. African Snipe popped up out of the grass and some of us were lucky so see it. The Cloud Cisticolas were all over the place, busy displaying and singing, but it was not possible to take pictures of this tiny little bird.
We visited the West Coast National Park and at Tzaarsbank the Crown and Cape Cormorants and Afr Black Oystercatchers perched on the rocks. Cape Gannets were diving for fish.
This time of the year the Postberg section is open to the public and what a thrill it was to see all the beautiful flowers. A wide variety of Mesembryanthemaceae species like Drosanthemum striatum, Lampranthus aureus, L. emarginatus and Cephalophyllum were in full bloom. Gazanias, Polygala myrtifolia, Oxalis flava, O.obtusa and O. purpurea carpets are all over the place.
Grey-winged Francolins sneak around together with Cape Spurfowl. The entuthiastic photographers could take photos of Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Clapper Lark and Karoo Larks, all surrounded by flowers.
We slept over at Kuifkop Chalets on the banks of the Berg River (www.kuifkop.co.za). Grey Tit, Pied Kingfisher, Southern Black Korhaan, Capped Wheatear, Red Bishops and Common Greenshanks were tick off.
The next morning we went down to Paternoster and found the Antarctic, Swift and Common Terns on the beach. The Antarctic Tern was for most of the birders a lifer. The veld around Paternoster was cover in the most beautiful flowers.
At Rocherpan the birds were a bit of a disappointment because of the lack of water. The flowers from there towards Elands Bay were stunning. From Elands Bay to Lamberts Bay we saw Lesser Flamingoes, Pied Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. We slept over at Seafront Guesthouse – a place with a beautiful sea view where one can relax.(www.lambertsbay.com)
From Lamberts Bay to Doring Bay and Strandfontein we saw Booted Eagles and a bird party of Black-headed Canaries, Long-billed Crombec, Dusky Sunbird, White-throated Canary, Fairy Flycatcher and Large-billed Lark. The photographers were in there element with all the photo opportunities.
At Vanrhynsdorp we drove up the spectacular Gifberg Pass and saw Grey-backed Cisticola, Grey-backed Sparrow-lark, Large-billed Lark and Wattled Starlings. The pass itself was a lifer for the most of the people. Halfway up the pass, we saw a pair of Black Harrier in the restios that could be a breeding pair. We stayed over at Vanrhynsdorp Self-catering Resort. (www.facebook.com/Vanrhynsdorp-Selfsorgoord)
From Vanrhynsdorp to Garies the veld was lush and Ludwig Bustards were seen. We took a detour road that leads towards the Groen River Mouth. We saw Grey Tit, Dusky Sunbird, Black-headed Canaries and Grey-backed Cisticola. Flowers seen include Euphorbia hamata, Namaqua daisies and Sarcocaulon species.
We slept over at Garies Self Catering chalets. The next morning we drove 5km out of town to the Groen River crossing. The birds gave us good exercise with Grey Tit, Red-faced Mousebird, Orange-river White-eye, Pririt Batis, Fairy Flycatcher, Bokmakierie, Southern Masked Weaver and even a Greater Honeyguide showed off and gave its well known call. We were surrounded not only with birds, but with the most beautiful namaqua daisies.
We left Garies for the well-known flower paradise of the Namaqua National Park, also known as Skilpad reserve. We saw a pair of Verreauxs’ Eagles, Booted Eagle and Ludwigs Bustards. At the Skilpad reserve our companions could not believe their eyes. All the “Oh’s and Ah’s” and the clicks of the cameras were enough to tell one that everybody were in their sevenths heaven of flowers. The Karoo Lark gave us a good display, the Cape Clapper Lark showed itself and lots of Red-capped Larks were around. The Grey Tit, as always, was not shy to show itself. Layard’s Tit-babbler, Dusky Sunbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Southern Black Korhaan and Large-billed Lark were all over the place. The Booted Eagle pair is still using the nest in the blue-gum trees at reception.
Not only is it Namaqua daisies but Oxalis species, Bulbine alooides, Conicosia elongata (Varkieskool), Dorotheanthus bellidiformis sp hestermalensis, Diascia namaquensis (bokhoring), Wahlenbergia annularis (Bluebells), Pelargonium triste, P. klinghardtense, Babiana dregei, Didelta spinosa (Perdebos), Dyerophytum africanum, Felicia australis, Ferraria ferrariola, Gladiolus equitans, Moraea fugax, Lapeirousia silenoides, Nemesia versicolor (weeskindertjies), Hemimeris racemosa (Bobbejaangesiggie), Grielum humifusum (Pietsnot). No photo or video can tell the truth about the magnificent colours and carpets of flowers.
At Springbok on the road to Gamoep we saw Karoo Eremomela and Grey Tit and a pair of Klipspringers. There were good flowers on the road to Concordia and the Goegab nature reserve had good birds and flowers.
The next day we left for Nieuwoudtville and visited the nature reserve. We saw Ludwig Bustards, Iridaceae, Lapeirousia sp, Androcymbium pulchrum (the red cup-and-saucers), Balbunella latifolia, Babiana sp and Ixia apunculoides. We visited the Nieuwoudtville waterfall and bought some lovely ‘skuinskoek’ from the locals. We drove down the plateau towards Loeriesfontein. At the Doring River we saw Namaqua Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher, Fiscal Flycatcher, Long-billed Crombec, Karoo Thrush, Karoo Prinia and Dusky Sunbird. We visited the Quiver tree Forest, what an amazing place with all that thousands of trees.
We stayed over at Willemsrivier Guest Farm near Nieuwoudtville (www.nieuwoudtville.com/willemsrivier). We left the next morning for Calvinia and visited the Akkerendam nature reserve. Grey-winged Francolin and Sickle-winged Chat were seen.
From Calvinia we took the road to Middelpos. Our destination was Gannaga Lodge (www.gannaga.com) on the edge of the Tanqua National Park and on the escarpment of the Roggeveld mountains. Along the road we saw Karoo Korhaan. At Gannaga Lodge, one of the brave birders tried the ‘skaapkop’ that’s on the menu. The next day was spending on the Tanqua plains. We saw Trac-trac, Karoo and Familiar Chats, Large-billed, Red-capped, Karoo Lark and some of us the Karoo Long-billed Lark. Cape Penduline Tit, Layard’s Tit-babbler, Namaqua Warbler, Capped Wheat-ear, Martial-, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Greater Kestrel, Pale Chanting Goshawk and some water birds at Oudebaaskraal dam. At sunset we were back on the Gannaga Pass lookout point for a group photo and a sundowner. The next morning after breakfast at the Gannaga Lodge we left for Cape Town and on the road back we saw a Spotted Eagle Owl. 158 bird species were seen for the trip.
Once again all our companions become good friends and e-mails and telephone numbers were given to each other.