19th July 2020
Cecily Salmon lives on the edge of Krantzkloof, the Uve Road side, which is across the gorge from the main entrance. She invited me to join her for a birding walk on Sunday morning (she said walk but it was more like a hike). The Uve Road entrance is still closed so we walked through the suburb to a different entrance.
It was a glorious day with bright blue skies; the air was fresh and the scenery spectacular.
Birding was tricky in the beginning because of glasses and binoculars misting up which was exacerbated by our masks. So, our first confirmed sightings were Trumpeter Hornbill and White-necked Raven mainly because we could see them with the naked eye.
Once we emerged from the forest into the grassland, identifying birds became a little easier. There were also quite a few butterflies including a beautiful winter form of Gaudy Commodore. Later a slightly tatty older Garden Inspector was also seen
We were delighted to see a Cape Rock Thrush sunning himself on some bushes. Rock Martins were also plentiful as we approached the beacon on Beacon Hill. The QR codes on the various landmarks are an excellent source of information. I learnt that I could use Zapper to scan the QR code and it took me to the website.
Next, we saw what later turned out to be a Croaking Cisticola on top of a tree. I first thought it was an African Pipit (don’t laugh, we’ve been in lockdown) but I have never seen an African Pipit on top of a tree before, so I was doubtful. We considered if it could be a lark, but I couldn’t imagine which lark so abandoned that idea. It was in the grassland so the next option to check out was Cisticola. Bingo! A Croaking it was. It struck me that if we’d been in the company of more expert birders, you know, the type that can ID a bird from the corner of their eye in bad light, we wouldn’t have had the time and space to figure it out for ourselves. A fun exercise.
Knocking on wood, very loud, coming from a tree right next to the path. We looked from every angle, but this woodpecker was impossible to see. After about 10 minutes, in frustration I went up to the tree and knocked on the wood. The little blighter flew out to a tree behind and we managed to get our eyes on to a Cardinal Woodpecker with the reddest of red crests, living up to his name.
We carried on walking towards the Crack, also known as Rumdoodle by the climbers, and were treated to the most chilled Jackal Buzzard ever. He sat at the top of a tree and no matter how close we came, did not move. Later we saw two flying above the gorge.
After this fairly strenuous (for me anyway) 6km walk, we were on our way out when we heard a distinctive call. ‘Crowned Eagle’ shouted Cecily and there it was circling above us.
We might have only identified 22 species, but they were worth their weight in gold.
Report by Penny de Vries; Photos by Cecily Salmon