This is my first update in months, and I assure you it’s of no choice of my own. The weather has really limited the ability to get out in the field, granted I am a bit fussy and don’t enjoy heading out in cold winds and rain, but none the less it’s almost October and I expect Spring. Spring however seems to have other ideas.
While I haven’t had the opportunity to head out and make a proper day of birding, I have been out several times over the past 8 or so weeks and managed to get a photograph of two. Most of the shots have been landscape shots, but there have been one or two birds thrown in there too. This past month was also apparently the first time that a Somerset West Bird Club outing had to be postponed due to rain.
In the time since my last update I have visited Newlands Forest, Tokai Forest, Gordon’s Bay Beach, Helderberg Nature Reserve and Strand Beach.
First was Tokai Forest, where Cathryn and myself went in search of the Chaffinch, for the first time. The weather wasn’t ideal, but it was quite nice out with the sun shining (when not obscured by the clouds). When we arrived we headed for the restaurant/cafe area where the Chaffinch are usually seen, but not before getting a great view of a African Harrier Hawk circling above us. After watching it fly off into the distance, we walked around to the tables by the restaurant where we got almost immediate sightings of the Chaffinch, an introduced species that now breeds and in turn populates a very small area. If one is looking to see these birds, the Tokai Forest is the best place.
At first they were being shy, and bouncing between the shadowed branches. But after about an hour of waiting we managed to get some individuals starting to feed on the ground around the tables. Most of the birds were female, but this one male gave us a nice show on the ground next to the neighbouring table. And a lifer was added to the bag.
The next day we went through to Newlands Forest in the hopes of finding a few raptors, but in the dead of winter, the place was rather quiet. Instead we focused on some of the other aspects of the forest. We spent some time taking photographs of the landscapes and of a half buried house that lies along the entry trail.
There were a couple of times where I felt the urge to head out and take what could be called ‘post-card’ shots. Typically landscape photography of the ocean of sunset. So I headed to Gordon’s Bay once or twice. There weren’t many good sunsets, but one nice sunset on one of the days allowed Cathryn and myself to get some decent photographs.
Of great interest over the past few weeks was the heavy snow that fell on the mountains around the Western Cape, there was snow even on Table Mountain and the Helderberg Mountain – a rare occurrence. I made sure to get in a few photographs before work on that day.
I still have made frequent trips to the Helderberg Nature Reserve when the weather was obliging, and brought a few raptors and other common residents. But the main interest for the year even at the reserve, was the sighting of a pair of Fairy Flycatchers. Quite an unusual record for the reserve. Tertius Gous, who made the discovery (at least making it public, on Facebook) lead me to them a day or two after he spotted them hanging around a single tree. I managed to grab a record shot, but the birds were definitely not easy to photograph in the short time I had available there. I have returned a few more times and have not yet found them to cater to my photographic desires.
I also ended up playing party photographer at my niece’s third birthday party.
Finally, the most recent shots were taken at Strand Beach after a strong storm ripped through, leaving large areas of water stagnant at the tops of the beach. The clouds were dramatic and offered some interesting scenes.
I’m hoping that Spring finally arrives as it is expected to and that these photographic adventures will not only occur once every few weeks.