Drakensberg birding during the winter months can be a wonderful affair. A host of endemics are quite common in certain areas. If one does some careful research there are some fantastic hotspots with Drakensberg accommodation close by. A wise choice for accommodation in the Drakensberg would be The Cavern Resort & Spa – they host Drakensberg birding weekends on a regular basis.
There was an inauspicious start on the most recent birding weekend in the Drakensberg at The Cavern Resort & Spa, with almost continuous rain until early Saturday afternoon. However, this did not deter the host of Greater Double-collared Sunbirds and Gurney’s Sugarbirds that squabbled endlessly over the Aloe arborescens flowers in The Cavern gardens. This wonderful Drakensberg spectacle can be viewed from only a metre or two away. All the other hungry birds got busy once the rain stopped, never mind the time of day. As always, the best birding was in The Cavern garden itself. Chorister Robin-Chats appeared around shrubberies and on the compost heap and an Olive Woodpecker shuffled its way up a tree trunk. Both of these birds are elsewhere considered specialists of Drakensberg forest interior. The Familiar Chat, Mocking Cliff-Chat and Cape Rock Thrush – all regular Drakensberg mountain species – were foraging on The Cavern hotel buildings.
Nearly everything was different on the following clear sunny morning. Snow capped the Drakensberg Amphitheatre in the distance. Cape White-eyes were in their winter semi-nomadic mode, here eating Rhamnus prinoides berries. A Streaky-headed Seed-eater was working the aloes in its typical piratical way. Instead of probing the florets, and so collecting pollen, it squeezed the base of the florets to get at the nectar, bypassing the pollen and swindling the plant. A highlight was a Black Sparrowhawk at full speed, not in pursuit of prey, but trying to evade the unwelcome attention of a Fork-tailed Drongo.
If you are looking for a birding weekend away in the Drakensberg then a weekend in the Drakensberg at The Cavern could be an ideal way to spend some time.