Rufousnaped Lark

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

December Holidays - Gordons Bay (Western Cape)

Cape Sugarbird - Male

Western Cape is a long way from where we live but it's a trip we don't mind making. It always seems so much cleaner and prettier than Gauteng or the East Coast and the bird species list is not as high as our home area but then the province probably has more endemics than any other provinces in South Africa. Our holiday was to be spent at my sisters house in Gordon's Bay which has a view over False Bay and an added bonus is that the house borders on a declared nature reserve. This means her garden is full of great birds!!

To get there my wife and I had to drive 1500km with four teenage boys filling the back of our Toyota SUV. So to break the journey we decided to stop off at the "Be Blessed" guest house in Richmond in the Karoo which gave us some time to stretch the legs and possibly try for some Karoo specials (Karoo Eremomela is one such special I still need to photograph but didn't get). We arrived in Richmond in the middle of the afternoon and after organising some entertainment for the boys we set off for some birding on the farm roads around the town. Birding was quiet but I did manage to see some good birds, Karoo Scrub-robin, Cape Penduline Tit and Fairy Flycatcher were highlights of the area. In the evening, countless numbers of Amur Falcons and Lesser Kestrels flew over the guest house on their way to roost somewhere near town. Eurasian Bee-eaters were also present in large numbers..

Karoo Scrub-robin

Cape Penduline Tit

Just outside the town we watched a family of Rock Kestrels practising some aerial combat manoeuvres with their chicks.

Rock Kestrels practising ACM

The next day we were up early to continue the journey to Gordons Bay. The birds in the garden in Gordons Bay are great and from the kitchen window you can see at least 10 endemics without much effort. Cape Sugarbird, Cape Bulbul, Cape Bunting, Cape Weaver, Karoo Prinia, Cape White-eye, Cape Spurfowl, Cape Rock-thrush and both Southern Double-collared and Orangebreasted Sunbird are common on the Protea bushes against the mountain.

Cape Sugarbird

Orange-breasted Sunbird

Southern Double-collared Sunbird

Karoo Prinia

Cape Spurfowl

The Cape Spurfowl are extremely tame and have raised several families in the area and they often bring their chicks for a free meal in the back yard.

Cape Spurfowl with chicks

I wonder how many other gardens can boast with a list of 10 endemics on a daily basis? With the house being so close to the sea there are also Kelp Gulls and the occasional Hartlaubs Gull which fly overhead.

Kelp Gull

Swallows and Swifts are also common and can be observed while relaxing on the patio enjoying a cold beer!! Now this is what I call Lazy Birder heaven!!

White-rumped Swift

Ooh and I almost forgot...there are Angulate Tortoises which forage and breed in the garden. I'm not sure if these are endemic but they also interesting to watch. Sizes vary from matchbox to shoebox size!

Angulate Tortoise (Shoebox size)

While we were on holiday I managed to visit West Coast National Park, Rooiels and I eventually got to Strandfontein after 10 years of procrastination...but these stories will follow shortly! Night!


Anonymous said...

Hi there

I am not sure how to contact you, not details on your blog?

I would like to use one of your Cape sugarbird pics on the Getaway website (one of Vernon Head's articles). I have said that the photo is by you and put a link to your blog. Hope that's OK?

You can email me on

Kind regards

Jessica Gaynor said...

Your style of blog presentation is very attractive including the image of small beautiful birds.It is so amazing.That is a nice blog.I like it......

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