May 2016 – Priscilla Beeton

Jackal Buzzard

Setting Out

Gerald Wingate was our leader on this outing which was attended by 16 people. We gathered just inside the gate where Gerald told us a little bit about the Reserve – that on the western slopes there is almost pristine Swartland Shale Renosterveld (in fact one of the largest remaining areas of this vegetation type) and that on the eastern slopes there had been ploughed farmlands but these are now almost fully restored to natural vegetation. While talking we already had our first sighting of a large raptor – distant but clear – on the top of a tree: a Jackal Buzzard!

Duiker Trail

We set off on the Duiker Trail, an easy walk to the right of the entrance towards the little dam. There were nice views of Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, White-backed Mousebirds and Cape Bulbuls. Gerald showed us a hole in a tree – a Pied Barbet’s nest. We all surmised that the hole must have been made by a woodpecker. We turned back before the dam as the path was very mossy and slippery. Only Simon who was atlassing, went on to the dam but all he saw was a lonely Common Moorhen.

Rock Kestrels

We retraced our steps and rejoined the path winding gradually uphill. Near the top of the hill we saw Rock Kestrels sitting on some dead branches and then also on the tall electricity pylons. We made our way up to the cannon – one of the few that survived being melted down during WW2 for new armaments and then onto the other side.

What a view!

What a view of Cape Town, even though it was fairly murky! It stretched from far up the West Coast, and included Table Bay harbour and Table Mountain, the airport right up to the Silvermine Mountains. We then walked down through the picnic area. It was sad to see that many of the many very tall pine trees are being felled because they have become diseased. After walking down a path specially constructed for wheelchair accessibility to look at the view over Bellville towards the distant mountains we retraced our step for about 80 metres and then made our way down to the Education Centre to have some tea and compile our list.

I think we were all pleasantly surprised when after adding up we discovered that we had seen 39 species; it had not felt as though we had seen that many. Birds we saw included (amongst others and over and above those already mentioned) Bokmakierie, Fiscal Flycatcher, Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Sparrow, Southern Boubou, Acacia Pied Barbet, Southern Fiscal, Yellow Bishop, Red-eyed Dove, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Cape White-eye, Cape Spurfowl, Grey-backed Cisticola, Speckled Pigeon and Pied Crow.

Many thanks to Gerald for leading us on this most pleasant ramble – and we could not have wished for better weather: sunny albeit fairly cool.