Harold Porter Botanical Reserve and the Rooisand Nature Reserve – 21 April 2012

Southern Double-collared Sunbird by Frank Hallett April 2012
Southern Double-collared Sunbird by Frank Hallett April 2012

Harold Porter Nature Reserve

The weather report for the day wasn’t very good with some rain predicted but when 18 of us gathered in the car park at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in Betty’s Bay the skies were partly cloudy and we hoped the rain would stay away. Our leader Jan Hofmeyr warned us there were not many birds in the gardens at present and seemed to be declining in numbers, we therefore weren’t expecting to see a great variety.

We first headed up towards Leopard’s Kloof and were soon able to tick off a number of the common birds such as Red-winged Starling, Cape Robin Chat, Olive Thrush and others. As the sun came out we were entertained by Brimstone Canaries feeding on blue Salvias and on Leonotis leonurus flowers were Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, showing their epaulettes indicating they are in full breeding plumage.

A little further up towards the mountain we looked for but couldn’t find Swee Waxbills which normally occur there feeding on the seeds of the long grass, but we did see Cape Sugarbirds on the Proteas, Dusky Flycatchers hawking insects out of the air, and a Cape Rock-Thrush.

The flowers in the garden were quite spectacular for this time of the year particularly the Guernsey lilies Nerine sarniensis which occur in this part of the garden.

We then walked across to the other side of the garden and crossed the bridge to Disa Gorge. The migrant species such as African Paradise-Flycatcher, which occur in this area in summer, would have left by now. On the side of the mountain we saw more Cape Rock-Thrush and walking through the forest had a spectacular view of an Olive Woodpecker very busily feeding on ants in a tree.

We had expected to find Cape Batis in the forest but they were also not to be seen but there were plenty of Cape White-eyes. Walking along the river we looked for Black Duck which sometimes occur here but they were also absent, however near the waterfall we were pleasantly surprised to find a small flock of African Olive-Pigeons.

On our way back to the car park we saw a single Cape Siskin feeding on the lawn and several Orange-breasted Sunbirds, both male and female, on the Ericas.

Our total for the morning was 22 which wasn’t bad considering we were led to expect far fewer. We had an early lunch and then set off for Rooisand Nature Reserve further along the R44 past Kleinmond. This Reserve encompasses part of the Bot River Vlei and is a wonderful wetland for birding.

Rooisand Nature Reserve

The small herd of wild horses which occurs there was seen near the car park shortly before our arrival, but unluckily we missed them. On scanning the trees in the distance we saw an Osprey flying off and then came quite close overhead. The Osprey can be seen there quite regularly as there are many fish in the vlei.

We walked along the boardwalk towards the dunes and in the long grass saw a pair of Cape Longclaw.

At the newly built hide we saw a number of migrant species, which may be late in taking off for the northern summer or may have decided to overwinter here, including Barn Swallows and waders such as Curlew Sandpipers and Little Stint.

Our count for this reserve was 25, which again was better than expected. We would like to thank our leader Jan Hofmeyr most warmly for an excellent day’s birding, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Frank Hallett.