Outing along the Klaasenbosch Trail, Constantia.

04 July 2023.

Leader Penny Dichmont.


cbc outing klaasenbosch trail 03 PD 04 july 2023

Since the walk in the Constantia Greenbelt was a relatively short one, I was very pleased and surprised to see a bigger group than expected assembling before 8.30 a.m. It turned out that for a number of the regular CBC members there it was their first visit to the greenbelt. There were a number of new faces as well, including someone who had only joined the CBC the previous week. In all, twenty-eight people joined the outing.

A few of the group had seen an Indian Peafowl in Oak Avenue as they had driven up, in its customary place. The inevitable discussion ensued about whether this was a legitimate ‘tick’. The walk was on – especially a hunt for new birds for the Challenge, such as Common Chaffinch.

I had done two recces in the three days before this, in heavy mist and drizzle, and had been very disappointed by the number of birds seen. Fortunately, our weather was much milder.

After lowering the group’s expectations of the number of birds to be seen on the walk, and issuing a health warning that the recent heavy rain had made the path very muddy and treacherous in places, we set off. A visitor from the USA, in Cape Town for just ten days, arrived by Uber from his B ’n B ten minutes into the walk, and one of the walkers returned to the meeting spot to rescue him, as he could not see where we had gone.

We had good views of three raptor species within about twenty minutes, as we headed towards the stables in sunshine: a Common Buzzard seen from the car park, two Black Sparrowhawks flying nearby and an African Goshawk high up in the sky.
At the bottom of the path, we enjoyed close views of a confiding Dusky Flycatcher. The following chaffinch was a photographic ‘lifer’ for one member’s list.

On our return trip, the group split in two, with the group which accompanied Daryl de Beer going at a more leisurely pace. The larger group continued to the bridge near the top of the trail (see below).
We now faced the dilemma of whether to retrace our steps or to continue along the circular route. The problem was that I had encountered a deep puddle, with rather inadequate pieces of bark placed in the water as stepping stones, on my earlier recce. This meant that getting one’s feet thoroughly wet was inevitable. The twins raced ahead to check out this spot and reported that it was not too bad, thanks to the patches of sun on the previous day, so we continued along the path to our cars.
Most of the group decided to join the second part of the outing: a walk at Bel Ombre Meadow, about 8 minutes’ drive from the trail. The main drawcard was a Black Sparrowhawk juvenile, which soon made itself heard and seen in one of the largest pine trees on the slope. The adults were also seen flying past in the trees.

Keen to see the pair of Spotted Eagle-Owls in their usual spot across the dip, we continued down. A pair of Common Buzzards gave a great display and was one of the highlights of the morning.

For Brett (right), visiting from the USA, this Common Buzzard was one of many new species on the walk.

Marlene and Jo Hofmeyr, who had kindly joined us for the outing, spent some time looking for the owls and eventually found both in a tree near the back of the meadow.

While we were looking at the pair, some movement in another tree attracted our attention. We then spotted an Olive Woodpecker, which afforded another “tick” for the Challenge for one of the group.

After a brief, but very welcome, tea-stop, we continued back to the cars. Some who had missed the Common Chaffinch earlier, were able to get a good view of it singing high up on a branch.

However, one of the group was not satisfied by only hearing the bird and seeing it fleetingly, for the purposes of logging the species for the Challenge. Hopefully, she will soon be able to return to this spot, regarded by one birder as the epi-centre of Common Chaffinches in Cape Town – and therefore Southern Africa.

A modest total of 24 birds were seen on our walk. Thanks to Daryl for leading one group and for his photographs, and to Wessel de Wet for his two charming portraits. Thanks to all who braved a chilly start to the day.

Photographs by Penny Dichmont, Daryl de Beer and Wessel de Wet.

Report by Penny Dichmont.