The weather report said horrid rain and cold: reality beamed bright and clear. The birds said thanks, and we managed 54 species in the weekend.
Early winter is the best time for Aloe arborescens and Leonotis leonurus. Best birding is from the balcony nearest the bar, and that suits many of the audience. Gurney’s Sugarbird gathers here at just this time of year, six or eight at a time, skirmishing despite the abundance of resources. Perhaps this is a hard-wired adaptation to suit the remaining 11 months of the year. Malachite Sunbirds, in winter dress, and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds were also busy. Another sign of winter is the disappearance of the regular summer swallows, and the arrival of Rock Martins on altitudinal migration from the high Berg.
A bird we haven’t seen for years was the Lesser Honeyguide. It’s unobtrusive, but the looping flight and white outer tail feathers were the give-away. Another part-timer, apparently on its own, was the Green Wood-hoopoe. It’s a co-operative breeder, and a gang of four is its signature. Another one-off, not seen for a year or so, was a Hamerkop.
Plenty of big game. Three separate lots of Eland were grazing, and Grey Duiker, Bushbuck and Mountain Reedbuck were all on show. A Natal Green Snake was making the last of the warm weather before turning in for the winter.