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Grootvadersbos Camp, near Heidleberg – 18 – 21 March 2017 by Priscilla Beeton.

The cottages , brand new and, in fact, only officially opened two days before our arrival, are very comfortable and spacious. This is great new facility for those who prefer to stay in cottages. The only downside was that Cape Nature has not yet provided a suitable gathering place for large groups like ours (41 campers) to meet together in the evenings. John Magner and Peter Nupen were wonderful leaders, managing the large group with aplomb, by splitting us into smaller groups. Birding in the forest itself was hard – but just the walking made it worthwhile – plus some special sightings. Birding on the Agulhas plains was very rewarding. A full report will appear in the next Promerops.

Here are some special memories and moments recorded by some very happy “campers”:

“The birding was good, but for me it was the location and scenery that took first prize – thick natural forest,huge redwood trees, the morning mist creating an inland sea with majestic mountains on the horizon beyond reaching up to a blue, blue sky. Quite magical!” [ANNE WHITELOCK]

“It was wonderful to wake up to the sound of birds, other than Hadedas, calling and then, after Saturday’s rain, to step outside to a crisp, clear and calm morning, with the smell of the clean damp vegetation, was as good as it gets. Many birds, including Yellow Canaries, Fiscal Flycatcher, Olive Pigeon and Greater Double-collared Sunbird were all sitting at the top of the trees outside the cottage enjoying the early morning sun. A memory to savour.“ [GRAHAM PRINGLE]

“A golden moment for me was, after slogging up the long pull out of the forest, to find myself dazzled by a pair of Blue Mantled Crested Flycatchers chasing through the trees within a metre from the path. Then, looking slightly higher up onto a large tree trunk to watch the Olive Woodpecker busily tapping the bark completely unfazed by our presence. The next moment a scratching in the leafy undergrowth drew our attention to Terrestrial Bulbuls.  All I had to do was stand and stare! That’s got to be good birding!“ [CELIA WOLFE]

“My best memory of this camp was seeing the many Denham’s bustard birds, even though so far away and also five in flight at Bontebok park on Tuesday on our last stop before proceeding home. The other excitement was the various buck seen at camp and on our drive on Monday and sighting the wild boar, that was amazing as I think not many have ever seen one.“ [ROSEMARY NATHAN]

Unbeknownst to me, my roommates in hut 5 had heard the Wood Owl calling around 4am on Monday and had been out and about looking for it, with no success. I happened to wake up just after dawn. As chance would have it, the owl landed noiselessly on the roof corner of the ‘kuierkamer’, and I reached out for my binocs and, without leaving my bed, enjoyed maybe 2 minutes of its company before it flew off!” [DENNIS RANDELL]

For me the highlight was seeing the Lesser Honeyguide, a lifer for me, at the picnic spot on the trip around the Agulhas Plains. [JOHN MCFARLANE]

My highlight was ‘A brief, but perfect view in the morning light of the Victorin’s Warbler’. [HELGA HILL]

The enjoyment of being with like-minded people and sharing in the excitement of seeing special birds like the Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Denham’s Bustard and many others. It is on occasions like these that leads to a strong understanding for the preservation of all our bird species for future generations to be able to enjoy. [PETER NUPEN]

The best part of this camp, was meeting up with fellow birders, old and new and birding with them, learning new identification skills and just chilling around the braai fire in the evening. The camp site and bungalows were beautifully set out and I loved just sitting there watching the birds flitting backwards and forwards. Thanks to all the organisers and leaders. [MARILYN METCALFE]

Photographs by Priscilla Beeton, Frank Hallet, Janet Hallet, Graham Pringle, Helga Hill.


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