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Monday, December 19, 2016

Strandfontein Sewerage Works Twitch Searching for the Spotted Crake

An early morning start on what must have been the most perfect morning at what is becoming Cape Town's premier birding location, the Standfontein Sewerage Works.  We were first through the gate, hoping to find the Spotted Crake.  In the end after a few hours we had to throw in the towel and leave with our target bird a no show.
All was not lost as we managed to tick off a new lifer, the Greater Painted Snipe.

It is always nice to have such a pleasant and very helpful crowd of birders all helping each other to find the target birds.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Temminck's Stint & Pectoral Sandpipers at Strandfontein Sewer Works

After hearing about a few mega bird alerts registered at Strandfontein Sewer Works, near Muizenberg in the Western Cape, we decided to use the opportunity to also tick off a few 'lifers'.  An early start was not an option, so we arrived at 11h00.  It was not hard to find the first group of cars where we inquired as to the various locations for the target birds in question. 

First up was the Temminck's Stint. Unfortunately he had been chased from the marsh area and was missing in action.  This was a perfect opportunity to do a drive around and try and tick off the remaining 2 other target birds.  We got to see the American Golden Plover, but at a great distance.  The Red Necked Phalarope was very obliging and a nice target bird to revisit as we had already ticked this one off at Kuifkopfontein near Veldrift

The Pectoral Sandpipers were also not to be found after visiting a few pans and chatting to many wonderful and helpful fellow birders, we decided to abandon this mission for the day.

Annoyed at having missed out on such a rare mega we began planning for Sunday morning and an early start to miss the crowds and hopefully tick this one off.

Arriving just before 6am on Sunday's wind-still morning, we met up with Michael Mason who kindly pointed out the star of the show.  Pictured above was the perfect setting and close proximity to this rare find.

Picture Credit: Faansie Peacock.  He flew in from Gauteng to tick this mega off.
Temminck's Stint / Calidris Temmincki

This bird was first recorded by Glynis Bowie on Tuesday 29 November 2016, but last seen in South Africa 29 years ago.
Pectoral Sandpipers, also another great on to have ticked off.

Wood Sandpiper.

Pectoral Sandpiper

Another Star of the moment: American Golden Plover.

On my way to the Strandfontein Sewer Works, we bumped into this ringed Peregrine Falcon enjoying breakfast on the lamp post above. Picture taken in Sunset Beach, Milnerton Cape Town.
During its spectacular hunting stoop from heights of over 1 km (0.62 mi), the peregrine may reach speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph) as it drops toward its prey. The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most widespread birds in the world. It is found on all continents except Antarctica, and on many oceanic islands. Ref: All About Birds.

Great White Pelicans
A great and memorable morning, we only spent 90 minutes at Strandfontein, so not many opportunities for more stars on the day at the Sewer Works, but we will be back to tick off some of remaining rare finds.  Thanks again to Trevor Hardaker and his excellent bird reporting process allowed us all to be on top of this special moment.

Other birds worth mentioning that are present at the moment at Strandfontein Sewer Works:
Terek Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Red-necked Phalarope and the African Jacana.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Vergelegen Wine Estate Somerset West Champion Trees

As well as extensive gardens, Vergelegen is home to many significant trees, the most important of which are:

  1. Five historic camphor trees, "guarding" the historic Vergelegen Homestead, believed to have been planted in 1700 by Willem Adriaan van der Stel and declared National Monuments in 1942; the other camphor trees on the Estate are all seedlings from these five magnificent specimens;
  2. Old English Oak, over 300 years old and believed to be the oldest living oak tree in Africa;
  3. White Mulberry (Morus Alba) dates back to 1700 and the only surviving relic of van der Stel's attempt to start a silk industry in the Cape;
  4. The "Royal" Oak, planted in 1928 from an acorn originating from the last of King Alfred's oak trees at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire.

Source: Vergelegen
Camphor Trees planted by William Adriaan van der Stel, Governor of the Cape.
These 300 year old trees were imported as seeds from Java, India.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A visit to the Arderne Gardens in Claremont

 A visit to the local Arderne Gardens in Claremont offered a surprise find of 5 of the 86 champion trees listed for South Africa.  One of the most spectacular gardens within the greater Cape Town area and a must-do visit for any nature and tree lover.  Even our 3 year old son loved the energy that these majestic specimens gave us.  Next time we will bring a picnic and stay for much longer.
A great deal of thanks goes to Mr Ralph Henry Arderne for creating this special space and leaving such a legacy for others to enjoy.
Arderne Gardens Cork oak quercus suber North America Champion Tree of South Africa
Ardine Gardens, Norfolk Island Pine, Aruacara heterophylla, Champion tree of South Africa
Arderne Gardens Ficus macrophylla Moreton Bay Fig Australia Champion Tree of South Africa

Arderne Gardens Queensland Kauri Agathisrobusta Champion Tree of South Africa

Arderne Gardens Aleppo Pine Mediteranian Pinus halepensis Champion Tree of South Africa
Arderne Gardens Quercus Cherri Turkey Oak Southern Europe Champion Tree of South Africa

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Monday, October 10, 2016

Flower Season 2016 in Langebaan 2 of 3

Drumsticks Zaluzianskya villosa

Pensie blom Little Purse Diascia diffusa

Reenblommetjie blom Dimorphotheca pluvialis