Outing to Altydgedacht Wine Estate, Durbanville.
21 January 2024.
Leader Kevin Drummond-Hay.
Altydgedacht, ‘as always thought’, a farm worth birding at some date. Earliest birders arrived at seven, but then stragglers flew in at eight.
At the assembly point three Spotted Eagle-Owls were noted. On their preening and stretching and winking everyone doted, down a dusty dirt-track we made our way, under stewardship of Kevin Drummond-Hay.
Little was there to see, but for a forlorn Reed Cormorant down by the pond like old friends, who, not having seen each other for two weeks.
The day’s group of 47 merrily talked and chatted all birds into flight THERE! Two Jackal Buzzards spiralled overhead, gliding at a height cameras flashed, mobile apps came alive, logging had begun.
Things heated up, clouds moved aside and shady spots were sought Watch out, horses! From the rear, as if on patrol, four young girls were brought astride their equines, like royalty they must have felt, as their path was lined by grey-haired birders they got waved; though, no autographs were signed but older still was a great big oak, majestic and broad, in full green coat.
Onward and downward we moved, at Pampoenkraal Road around we turned to mumbles and grumbles we knew, our dose of sightings was not yet earned then, high above the mielie fields, a murder of Pied Crows, 30 or 40 in all fighting off it seemed, an African Harrier-Hawk; alone, his resistance had to fall back to the farmhouse we tread, past green swimming pool and shed.
On the rise we halt to see, Common Starling, Red-eyed Dove and Cape Canary, all in patches past worker cottages and barking dogs we move, to view Fiscal and Paradise Flycatchers, Cape Sparrows, Cape Weavers, Cape Batis, Cape Bulbul: where are we? it was asked a vineyard, with cabernet and merlot hanging ripe, “Keep your beaks off”, birds were tasked to the left a dam with reeds all round, weavers, wydahs and swallows to be found.
Three kilometres in we turned about, sweaty backs and sun creams wearing thin in the twigs above, a Stonechat sits as Malachite Sunbirds flutter about and din usual suspects lead the way, House Sparrows, Karoo Prinias and Fork-tailed Drongos all singing and chirping cheerfully to show us humans how their song really goes watching from above, wow, a Black Sparrowhawk with a Yellow-billed Kite we gawk.
But now it seemed the day became worthwhile, a Vulture sitting with steely eyes upon a drum and then more so; a Wild Boar in the distance, transfixed and still. To miss them we were dumb on close inspection though, archer’s target were they, not for lifers, nor logging and looking quick, delete the listing, else ornithologists will flock, to measure, record and keep stock.
Past rusting farmyard implements we walk, and in tired whispers birding speak we talk.
Back at the cars, we eat a bite with water down, we reconcile and count 44 at walk’s end No no! Look ahead, a Cattle Egret rising, that makes 45. There it stayed till one pressed “Send.”
Spotted Eagle-Owls still on their perch up high. Rounding out the day with a flurry of delight we’re treated to a European Honey Buzzard fly by; all majestic, curious and stern in flight announcements made, photos shared and write-ups now assigned, our birding stars were once again aligned.
Photographs by Gigi Laidler, Daryl de Beer and Tanya Kieswetter.
Report by Jens Kuhn.