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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Cancellation of the Mice-Free Marion Fundraiser

Friends of Flock to Marion

Dear loyal sponsors and supporters,

It is with great sadness that we have been left with no alternative to cancel our fundraising effort (Mice-Free Marion Lucky Draw).

Wandering Albatross Chick - Marion Island

We have been in communication with our lawyers, as well as Mrs. Jill Richie (Publisher and Fundrais
ing Expert / NGO Management, Papillonpress.co.za). We have been advised that in the best interest of the efforts from BLSA we should rather direct our support to their project. 



Our intention was to make a meaningful contribution to this vital project in our own special way. Prior to launching this fundraising effort, (for one year), we had been in constant written contact with BLSA (Mr. Mark Anderson) providing him with up-to-date information about our project. After providing Mr. Anderson with a complete synopsis of the campaign as requested, we received his written support. 

Unfortunately, over time he withdrew this support (maybe as a result of our sponsor's conflict of interest with BLSA sponsors?), we decided to continue with our independent project. This - unbeknownst to us - became an illegal fundraiser as we needed official approval from the National Lotteries Commission of SA.  

Due to the legal pressure that BLSA has exerted on us that we stop our fundraising effort, we have decided it is best to direct our support to the main Mouse-Free Marion Project.

We apologise for any inconvenience or confusion that we may have created, our intentions were always for the benefit of the seabirds.

We will be in contact with each ticket holder to suggest two options:

  1. Refund the funds to each ticket holder; or
  2. Pledge the funds received to purchase what we originally intended to do, purchase a few hectares from the SPONSOR A HECTARE program.
  3. Redirect the donations received from the SPONSORS DONATIONS to a suitable cause like this one, which will be either related to a bird or nature cause and each donor will receive ongoing promotions/mentions on our website and social pages.  (We would like to suggest SANCCOB?)

The total amount collected to date is about R7000, excluding banking fees.  We will contribute whatever amount is needed extra to make up the total to the nearest thousand.

All sponsors and ticket holders will be contacted immediately.

Friends of Marion's social page will remain, as we will continue to enjoy the journey prior to departure and share much-needed information about this voyage and its vital cause for the protection of the seabirds of Marion Island.

The final outcome regarding the ticket holders and sponsors will be announced on our social pages and in an email to you once we have received their mandates.

We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to you, our sponsors, supporters, and patrons, and look forward to meeting you in person.

Yours faithfully,

Alex and Juanita Aitkenhead

Questions can be directed to:

Alex.aitkenhead@gmail.com (0825749920)

Juanita.aitkenhead@gmail.com (0824649146)

 

Thank you again for your understanding.

 

 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Honeyguides and Honeybirds of Southern Africa

Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Greater Honeyguide male on his song post, Atlantis: Dassenberg Road) 


Family indicatoridae:


With seven species found in Southern Africa, in the Western Cape, we have four mostly resident species. Within the family, a distinction should be made between the larger Indicator genus (11 species, four of which occur in Southern Africa) and the smaller Prodotiscus genus (two of three which occur locally)

 


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
Image Credit: Faansie Peacock Chamberlains LBJs


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Greater Honeyguide male on his song post, Atlantis: Dassenberg Road, calling incessantly, remarkable to watch) 

Their name is derived from the Greater Honeyguide's remarkable ability in guiding man to beehives. They benefit from humans opening the hive, thereby giving them access to beeswax, pupae, and eggs.


Another fascinating behaviour of the Honeyguide is that they are brood parasites. They do not build nests or raise their young but delegate this to host species. The larger Honeyguides choose to parasitise species that nest in cavities in trees or earth banks, including, Barbets, Kingfishers, Bee-eaters and a host of others. 


An extraordinary sense of smell helps them locate beehives, bacteria excreted from the stomach, and efficiently digest beeswax.



Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Greater Honeyguide male on his song post, Atlantis: Dassenberg Road) 


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Greater Honeyguide male on his song post, Atlantis: Dassenberg Road) 


We have seven species in Southern Africa; all are resident and can often be found at favourite song posts throughout the year. A simple but distinctive and far-carrying song that aids in their identification.



Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Greater Honeyguide male on his song post, Atlantis: Dassenberg Road) 


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
Image Credit: Faansie Peacock Chamberlains LBJs


Large Honeyguide: Greater Honeyguide, found in various wooded habitats including savanna, woodland, forest edge, ravine strips, plantations and gardens. Scaly-throated limited to riverine, coastal and evergreen forests and mature woodland.


Greater Honeyguide (Indicator indicator) Afrikaans: Groot Heuningwyser


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
Image Credit: Faansie Peacock Chamberlains LBJs


After Receiving reliable confirmation of an incessant calling Greater Honeyguide from one of our top birders in the Cape (Trevor Hardaker), this was our best opportunity to connect with this fascinating bird. Luck was on our side when we stopped at the Pin provided; the bird was in full song. It took us a while to finally locate the Honeyguide on his calling post in a large tree. It was exciting to witness the continuous calling of this male bird while admiring the fine plumage and bright coloured pink bill.


  






Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
( Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Natures Valley: Garden Route)


Scaly Throated Honeyguide (Indicator variegatus) Afrikaans: Gevlekte Heuningwyser



As in the case of other Honeyguides, this species well-developed sense of smell assists in locating beehives and may travel up to 5km from its song post.


Uncommon to fairly common but localised resident. They are easily overlooked unless calling; this bird is solitary. Like most Honeyguides, they will sing from a high branch below the canopy, intermittently switching to a new perch. Can be pretty secretive and elusive, but very inquisitive: will quietly approach humans and watch from the shadows.


 Will eat bees pupae, larvae and wax, other insects, fruit and seeds. Known to parasitises Barbets and Woodpeckers. The male song is a strange, eerie purring trill that sounds insect-like.



Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
( Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Natures Valley: Garden Route)


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
( Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Natures Valley: Garden Route)


While visiting the Garden Route, we met up with one of the local birding guides (Ian Pletzer: Plett Birding), who assisted us in locating some of the trickier forest species.


Natures Valley(Sanparks) proved to be a haven for unique forest birds, including the shy Scaly Throated Honeyguide. Happy to connect with this timid forest bird and exhilarated that we could capture some images of this particular forest bird. 


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
Image Credit: Faansie Peacock Chamberlains LBJs


Small Honeyguides: Easily overlooked even where common, lesser Honeyguide, widespread: woodland, riverine bush, forest edges, thickets, parks and gardens. Pallid Honeyguide is very localised: forest edges, secondary growth and woodland.


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Lesser Honeyguide in the forest section at Zewenwacht Wine Estate)



lesser Honeyguide (Indicator minor) Afrikaans: Klein Heuningwyser



Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Lesser Honeyguide in the forest section at Zewenwacht Wine Estate)


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Lesser Honeyguide in the forest section at Zewenwacht Wine Estate)




We received confirmation of a Lesser Honeyguide visiting a garden in Kuilsriver. We arranged to visit this location, but unfortunately, the bird didn't show. We learnt that this property had a breeding pair of Acacia Pied Barbets, hence the lesser Honeyguide's presence. Other news revealed that a  Lesser Honeyguide was recorded at the Zewenwacht Wine Estate (forest section), encouraged to have captured a few images and a video of this remarkable bird.



Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
Image Credit: Faansie Peacock Chamberlains LBJs


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Lesser Honeyguide in the forest section at Zewenwacht Wine Estate)



Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
( Image co. Jacques Giliomee: Lets Go Birding )



Honeybirds: Small, delicate warbler-or-flycatcher-like birds with a sharp, curved bill. Quiet and mostly overlooked unless displaying. Green-backed found in miombo and teak woodlands. Brown-backed in savanna, woodlands and thickets, often at forest edges or in wattle and other alien trees, in hilly areas.



Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Juvenile Brown-backed Honeybird at Kirstenbosch zone 24 above the Sun shelters)



Brown-backed Honeybird: (Prodotiscus regulus) Afrikaans: Skerpbekheuningvoel



Not closely associated with bees as typical Honeyguides. Forages both low down and in the tree canopy, gleaning scale insects from twigs and bark.

The best way to locate this small, nondescript and unobtrusive parasite is to listen for its sharp insect-like calls given during a spectacular, high-speed aerial chase.



Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Juvenile Brown-backed Honeybird at Kirstenbosch zone 24 above the Sun shelters, host parent Karoo Prinia)


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Juvenile Brown-backed Honeybird at Kirstenbosch zone 24 above the Sun shelters)


We always knew that the Brown-backed Honeybird would be the hardest to locate out of the four birds resident in the Western Cape. However, armed with a list of known locations to record the BBH, we were ready and eager for the challenge.



Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Juvenile Brown-backed Honeybird at Kirstenbosch zone 24 above the Sun shelters, host parent Karoo Prinia)


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Juvenile Brown-backed Honeybird at Kirstenbosch zone 24 above the Sun shelters, host parent Karoo Prinia)


Our local birder's information on this bird was to try at Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Silverboom KLoof Natural Heritage Site(Somerset West), Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Tokai.

Visiting these locations and spending up to three hours per site yielded no results. Finally, we were becoming desperate, and as luck would have it, a fellow birder sent us some images of a juvenile BBH taken at Kirstenbosch. Success, at last, we found the BBH and better still, we managed to record the host parents feeding this Juvenile Brown-baked Honeybird.


 

Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Image co. Michael Buckham: Adult Brown-backed Honeybird Kenilworth Race Course, Western Cape )


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
(Image co. Candice Wharton: Juvenile Brown-backed Honeybird at Kirstenbosch, zone 24 below the Sun shelters)


This find completed our journey of connecting and recording the Honeyguides and Honeybirds found in the Western Cape.

We have learned so much about these birds and have a greater appreciation for this species. We hope and trust you have enjoyed this article and images; follow us on our social platforms for more of our travels and experiences. 






We have always been fascinated by the Honeyguides, but finding one and capturing the bird calls has been incredibly rewarding. The northern sections of Southern Africa will allow us to document the remaining species of Honeybirds; we look forward to this challenge.


This has been a remarkable journey of understanding, learning, and thoroughly enjoyable birding experience in Southern Africa.


I hope you will appreciate the honeyguides/Honeybirds' fascinating bird species and have acquired some knowledge while enjoying this article. 


This find completed our journey of connecting and recording the Honeyguides and Honeybirds found in the Western Cape.

We have learned so much about these birds and have a greater appreciation for this species. 


 I hope you have appreciated the honeyguides/Honeybirds' fascinating bird species and have acquired some knowledge while enjoying this article. 


 Follow us on our social platforms for more of our travels and experiences. 




Honeyguides and Honeybirds: Brood parasites


Images co. Henriette Siebrits (Kuilsriver)


These images reflect the breeding behaviour of the Honeyguides, in this case, the Lesser Honeyguide.


The Male Honeyguide will often distract the Barbet, thus allowing the Female Honeyguide to enter the Barbets nest and lay a single egg. The Honeyguide hatchling will kill the Barbets chick and discard it from the nest. It's a sad story, but it's nature at its best, and we still have so much to learn.



Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
( Images co. Henriette Siebrits: Kuilsriver )


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
( Images co. Henriette Siebrits: Kuilsriver )


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
( Images co. Henriette Siebrits: Kuilsriver )


Honeyguide, Honeybird, Forest bird, Birdsong, Greater Honeyguide, Scaly Throated Honeyguide, Lesser Honey Guide, Brown-backed Honeyguide
( Images co. Henriette Siebrits: Kuilsriver )


Flock Together

Meet the Greater Honeyguide, the Bird That Understands Humans

On the African savanna, a fascinating and unprecedented partnership between people and wild birds gets started with a simple "brrr-hm."




Saturday, November 27, 2021

Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster Cape West Coast

 Cape Columbine Nature Reserve

The Cape Columbine Nature Reserve is situated near Vredenburg in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. It is a beautiful area and was declared a Nature Reserve in 1973. All along this beautiful coast grows the famous fynbos and the wildflowers cover the area with wild and wonderful colours and aromas. The reserve is known to have the last manually controlled lighthouse which was built in 1936 on Castle Rock.



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Cape Columbine Lighthouse)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Admiring the Spring Flowers along the Coast)

The reserve also boasts one of the most beautiful stretches of pristine coastline which is home to dolphins and whales which attracts visitors from all over. The Cape Columbine Nature Reserve offers a variety of interesting and relaxing hiking trails and it is an experience you would not want to miss out on.



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Unfortunately no access to the Lighthouse due to Covid 19 restrictions)



Some interesting facts about the Cape Columbine Lighthouse:

  • Candlepower 5 040 000 C.D.
  • Character of Light One flash every 5 seconds
  • Installation Date 01 October 1936
  • Range 32 sea miles
  • Structure 15-metre white square masonry tower with red painted lantern house
  • Type of Light Revolving electric
  • Other features Fog signal and radio beacon



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(One of many coastal roads to explore and enjoy, each with its own unique bay)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Some local history of the marine environment and Lighthouses)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Private and tranquil little bays along the coastal road for picnics and some swimming)



Before the lighthouse was erected in 1936, the coastline between Saldanha Bay and Stompneus Bay was infamous for shipwrecks. The list includes that of The Haddon Hall (1913), the Lisboa (1910), the SS St. Lawrence (1876) and of course the Columbine (1829). The Lighthouse was named after the British wooden ship which was wrecked just 1.5 km north of where it stands today. The Cape Columbine Lighthouse is now usually the first South African lighthouse to be seen by ships travelling from Europe.



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(So many Spring Flowers and in some sections we had carpets of flowers, Coastal Fygies)

                      
Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(A juvenile Jackal Buzzard, up close for a change) 


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Carpets of yellow daisies south of the Lighthouse, the colours so vivid against the ocean )



The lighthouse stands on a massive granite boulder called Castle Rock and is one of the last manned lighthouses built in the country and the last significant project of the famed Harry Claude Cooper.  The Cape Columbine Lighthouse still has a full-time Light-keeper and although it still does its job of lighting up the West Coast, it has also become a favourite attraction to visitors of the Nature Reserve as well as a popular picnic site. It is one of only four lighthouses that offer overnight accommodation, the others being the Cape St Blaize (Mossel Bay), Danger Point (Gansbaai) and Great Fish Point (Port Alfred).



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(The Famous Tietiesbaai, and you can see why pristine beaches and a perfect bay for some camping)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Jacobsbaai, on a gloomy morning, the main Harbour)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(The main entrance to the Quaint but growing coastal town)


Having visited Cape Columbine before, but outside of the spring flower season, the area was dusty and dry, with your typical west coast fynbos scrub in drab colours.


How different it was when we returned in September 2021, the coastline covered in magnificent spring blossoms. Cape Columbine has never featured on any flower routes, so it was most pleasant to explore this area now carpeted in spring flowers. What made our stay even more special was how quiet this stretch of coastline was. None of the traffic jams and people jostling for a photograph amongst the daisies.



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Typical Sandstone boulders along the coast littered with wonderful Spring Flowers)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Cape Penduline Tit, a new lifer for me, very happy indeed)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(We loved exploring the narrow winding coastal roads, each one had its own unique surprise)


Tripping through the fields of spring flowers, we were pleasantly surprised with the picturesque coastline, impressed by the colossal lighthouse structure and ever so grateful for the beautiful country we call home.


Unique flowers we high on our program; we hoped to capture some fresh floral landscapes and some birding along the coast. Captivated by the beauty of this nature reserve, we look forward to returning next year with our camping gear at hand. Unfortunately, this reserve needs more than a morning to enjoy and explore the coastline; besides, we could not enjoy the workings and history of the famous Columbine Lighthouse as it was closed due to Covid 19 restrictions.


We look forward to next years spring flower season when we return to this beautiful area. 


Accommodation

For an authentic lighthouse overnight experience, visitors can try one of the few self-catering cottages on-site at the Cape Columbine Lighthouse. The cottages sleep between 2 and 6 people and the cost ranges between R600 and R900 per unit per night. The nature reserve also offers a few campsites where visitors can stay over if the camping experience is what you looking for.


Things to do and see

Lighthouse Tours

Curios & Memorabilia on Sale

Conference Facilities

Swimming pool & Jungle Gyms

Picnic Site

Camping & Self-catering Accommodation

Admission

Entrance fees are approximately, at the time of writing this article: Adult R19 and children R13. Prices are subject to change, please contact the tourism office directly to confirm all prices.




Cape Columbine Lighthouse Address:

Cape Columbine Nature Reserve

Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, West Coast Peninsula

Western Cape,  South Africa

32° 49′ 39.932″ S, 17° 51′ 20.178″ E


work: +27 21 449 2400

work: +27 22 752 2705


Opening Hours

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Fararia Crispa, one of the most elegant Spring Flowers along the coast)

Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Northern view of the Famous Cape Columbine Lighthouse)

Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Giant girdled lizard, my first sighting of this rare "Sungazer")


The last manned lighthouse built on the South African coast

Article received from: "The Cape Odyssey"


Cape Columbine, a majestic headland on the Cape’s West Coast, is a mere two-hour drive from Cape Town. It is situated in the Tietiesbaai nature Reserve, almost 5 km from the picturesque little fishing village of Paternoster.



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Poppy field just before Jacobsbaai)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(wind-still and picture-perfect, prefrontal clouds and flower abound)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Ruddy Turnstone in breeding plumage, we found loads of them on the shore line)


Paternoster is well known for its crayfish and other seafood delights and reputedly derives its name from the thanksgiving prayers of shipwrecked Portuguese mariners. Early maps consistently record the place name as ‘St Martins Paternoster.’ Cape Columbine owes its name to the British wooden snow ‘Columbine’ which was wrecked in 1829, 1,5km north of the lighthouse.




Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Spring flowers season, it was special this year due to the good rain in winter)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Black Harrier hunting in the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(So many places to explore and enjoy the great outdoors)


Prior to the installation of the Cape Columbine lighthouse, the coastline was the burial ground of several ships. In 1876 the iron steam troopship SS Saint Lawrence was wrecked on Great Paternoster Point. Bound for Cape Town she was carrying the 2nd Battalion of the 3rd Buffs. No lives were lost. Other ships to meet their demise in this region were: the Portuguese twin-screw mail-steamer SS Lisboa (1910), SS Haddon Hall (1913), SS Malmesbury (1930) and the SS Haleric which floundered off Cape St Martin (1932).


Urban legend has it that the SS Lisboa was laden with a large quantity of red wine, which stained the sea. Fortunately, a large number of unscathed barrels which washed ashore were buried by the locals and retrieved much later after exasperated custom officials had finally returned home!



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(We were searching for new flower species and this location did not disappoint)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(The magical Spring Floral display)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Nesting Crowned Plover, harassed by local Pied Crows)


The provision of a lighthouse on this piece of coast lay in abeyance for many years. The Lighthouse commission of 1906 recognised that Cape Columbine would be a suitable location for a lighthouse. Dassen Island and Pelican Point at Walvis Bay, however, appeared at the time to be more urgent. It took thirty years and much debate before the construction of a lighthouse at Cape Columbine got the nod - much to the relief of the local fishing community.



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(We managed to get some great Drone footage from this angle of the Columbine Lighthouse)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Large-billed Lark early one morning singing away, oh what a pleasure )


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Two juvenile Yellow-billed Kites)



Around the turn of the twentieth century, Harry Claude Lee Cooper was appointed as an engineer in charge of lighthouses. Columbine was the last lighthouse H.C. Cooper designed. He decided on the site known to the locals as Castle Rock, a massive granite outcrop a few hundred meters from the sea. The design of the Cape Columbine lighthouse was quite different from the conventional tapered circular tower. His design was a slightly tapered square tower with the outer faces of the walls recessed, thereby forming heavy buttresses on the four corners. The building is painted white while the lantern is red.



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Grey-Tit with a juicy meal)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(We managed to add ten new flowers to our list)



Columbine was the first lighthouse to receive all three navigational safety features, ie, a light, a fog signal and a radio beacon. The optical apparatus, supplied by Messrs Chance Brothers, was the first lens system designed for use with a 4kW incandescent electric lamp on the South African Coast. All prior installations had been designed for wick or petroleum vapour burners.


Thirty years had elapsed since the lighthouse commissions’ report and navigators and every person from the Berg River mouth, Vredenburg, and Saldanha Bay waited anxiously for the Columbine light to become a reality. They watched with anticipation as machinery and equipment were transported over the rough countryside to the rocky prominence.


The moment of glory eventually arrived on the 1st of October 1936. As the sun extinguished itself on the Atlantic horizon, Mrs H.C. Cooper set in motion the impressive lens. Two brilliant white beams penetrated the evening air over the formidable Britannia reef.



Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(Juvenile Jackal Buzzard )


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(This must be the largest poppy field we have seen to date in the Western Cape)


Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, Paternoster, Jacobsbaai, Lighthouse, Birding, Dji, Landscape Photography, spring Flowers, west coast,
(The level of detail in the flowers we encountered was truly spectacular)


Information Source:

Simon Baillie-Cooper

Visit Simon's excellent website about Lighthouses on the South African coast

Webmaster's Note: My appreciation to Mr Gabriel Athiros, editor of "The Cape Odyssey", for permission to publish this article.  "The Cape Odyssey" is a must for everyone who enjoys reading and learning about the colourful and fascinating history of the Cape.