25th – 27th August 2017
Report by Jane Morris/Roseblade
Oribi gorge always offers great birding with dramatic scenery thrown in for good measure and I for one was really looking forward to this weekend away. Despite predictions of rain on Sunday we were blessed with relatively good weather albeit a little chilly in the early mornings and evenings.
Mike and I arrived mid-morning and did a meander around the camp and along the entrance road where we were entertained by monkeys, both Samango and Vervet family groups who were raiding the sugarcane plantation, hauling whole lengths of cane across the road then shimming up the trees where they sat and munched upon them with great enjoyment.
By lunch time our party had swelled to include Jenny, Elena, Ros, Jenny and Dave (Rix) and ourselves.
While we were meeting and greeting Mike got a call from Cheryl, our weekend leader, advising that due to ill health she and John were not going to be able to join us.
Cheryl also advised that Andy Ruffle was indisposed and so we would more than likely not be able to access the vulture hide.
Left to our own devices we quickly regrouped and were soon in the cars and headed down the road to the picnic area half way down the hill. This area is always good in the late afternoon as the last rays of the sun are still on the rock faces and hill side. It was cold but this did not deter the birds and good views were obtained of African Firefinch and Grey Cuckoo-shrike.
For the balance of the weekend we decided to bird in small groups (according to how early we wanted to rise from warm beds) but meeting up for tea and lunch at appointed times.
Jenny Norman chivvied her group out first, Jenny Rix and I left at a respectable 06h40 and the 2 gentlemen in our party arrived for birding at 10h30 – as to what time they arose from warm beds we did not inquire.
Butterflies were free everywhere.
There was no shortage of small bird parties as we travelled about the area. The picnic site as always was very productive with Spotted Ground-Thrush, Knysna and Olive Wood-peckers calling and showing themselves, an adult Olive Bush-Shrike bounded through the trees with a juvenile in hot pursuit and of course the Starred Robins, both adult and juvenile were present.
Southern Tchagra put in a brief appearance, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler was a highlight for all of us as was Swee Waxbill, Forest Canary and Green Twinspot.
Jenny, Elena and Ros were fortunate to get good views of Narina Trogon although Jenny Rix and I were lucky enough to get a solitary Cape Vulture soaring overhead.
Our evenings were spent under the shelter of the cottage veranda which afforded some warmth, Mike and Dave excelled at lighting the fires and cooking to the satisfaction of all. As always there was a great deal of debate and merriment.
The finale of the weekend was coffee and cake at the Leopard Rock Café – this seems to have become a BLPN tradition and then amid fond adieu’s we all headed out in different directions. Mike and I home, Jenny and Dave to spend another (quiet) night and Elena, Jenny and Ros to do some more birding before departing.
The total bird count for the weekend was 126 species, a good number by any standard. Click here to view our list.
We missed Cheryl and John and hope Cheryl is recovering well. We were bitterly disappointed to miss the Vulture Hide but hope that Andy is also well on the road to recovery – and now there is a good excuse to visit Oribi again soon!!