On the way to the Cavern we passed several fresh burns. Plenty of birds recognise an opportunity for freshly roasted insects spread out on the dining table. On one, where the smoke had barely cleared, and it must have been still warm underfoot, were at least 30 Black-headed Herons. They are always first on the scene, and demonstrate social distancing to perfection. There’s no crowding, and a gap between each is typically 50 metres. In effect, each has a temporary territory.
At the Cavern the weather was wonderful, warm with nary a cloud, perfect blue sky. Nights were also clear, so we had excellent views of Jupiter and its moons. It’s almost incredible how the moons change position each night; they orbit much faster than ours; for example Io takes only a day and a half to circuit.
Five Eland were grazing on the opposite side of the Cavern valley for much of the weekend. We also saw a Mountain Reedbuck there. This is endemic, so quite a big “tick”
The Tropical Migrant birds are just beginning to trickle back. The Paradise Flycatcher was first. Any day now we’ll hear the first cuckoo. Of the resident birds the Olive Bush Shrike – normally elusive, and one of the few forest birds never to come into the garden – gave a dazzling view. The Drakensberg Prinia was another “first” for most of the team. By far the star of the show was the Fairy Flycatcher. It’s an altitudinal migrant from the high Berg, so is only present lower down in winter. Normally it might well return up hill at the present time of year, but unusually cold weather has delayed it.