Birding in the Overberg – Day 1

Overberg is an area of the Western Cape, east of Cape Town and beyond the Hottentots-Holland mountain range.  The name, Overberg is derived from Over ‘t Berg, which means over the mountain  and is a reference to the region’s location relative to Cape Town. 

It stretches along coasts where  beautiful beaches can be enjoyed, and over mountain ranges with interesting geological formations, abundant birdlife and fynbos. The landscapes are stunning explosions of different greens, browns and golds and now that we live in this beautiful area we are enjoying exploring and discovering all its hidden corners.

Our friends, Jim and Maureen from Jeffrey’s Bay visited us this week.  They too, are keen on wildlife and birds and so we spent a couple of fabulous days doing what we love best – enjoying nature and finding birds –  and the Overberg is just the place to do it.

On Tuesday evening J&M insisted on taking us to dinner so we introduced them to the  wonderful cuisine offered by Seagulls restaurant in Cape Agulhas. On cold winters evening there is a roaring fire in the grate but today it was warm so no need for that. Jim, Earl and Maureen ordered Spare Ribs which they said were good, while I settled for their delicious beef stroganoff – the Banting version comes with a Greek salad instead of pasta.

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Jim and Earl enjoying beer together

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Maureen and I prefer wine

Friends together again

Friends together again

The next morning we were all up bright and early and Maureen and I decided to walk to Cape Agulhas – about an hour on foot from Struisbaai.  And what a wonderful route it is along the rugged coastline.

The lighthouse at Agulhas

The lighthouse at Agulhas

Sharon and I did this last week and M being a race walker was keen to do it too.  The men went off to explore the harbour and the beach and met us at Potpourri the best place in the area for breakfasts, light lunches and delicious cakes.

We then did the compulsory standing at the Southern Tip of Africa thing and got the photo.

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On our way back we found this puffy disappearing into the grass on a vacant plot. Stay there, Puffy, or a vigilant gardener might decide to decapitate you with the edge of his spade.

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We went home to freshen up and then went off on a bird watching drive to Arniston.  Now Arniston is an easy 40 minute from Struisbaai if you go straight there.  But if you are tuned into nature it takes a lot longer than that. No prizes for guessing why.   We took the gravel road through the farmlands and of course stopped for every bird and creature of interest. The beautiful flora growing in the veld also had us oohing and aahing.

Struisbaai to Arniston and Back

Struisbaai to Arniston and Back

The weather had turned chilly so Maureen and I were very pleased that we’d done the walking thing early.  The game was on to find more than 60 species and in spite of the weather we did quite well.

Always special to see spoonbills

Always special to see spoonbills

Red-capped larks were everywhere

Red-capped larks were everywhere

Agulhas Lark sang beautifully

Agulhas Lark sang beautifully

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Common Ringed plover

Black-winged stilt

Black-winged stilt

Pretty flora too

Pretty flora too

When we got to Arniston we realised we did not have enough fuel to get home and there is no petrol station in Arniston!  But the kind staff of the hotel helped us out with a can so the day was saved.

As Maureen and I made our way to the hotel restaurant we found Phil and Richard about to depart in a most amazing chariot.   We chatted to them and they told us they’d shipped the vehicle from the UK to Durban and were travelling around South Africa in it.  There next stop would be Hermanus and then Stellenbosch.  Wow – totally open top – in all weather!

We meet interesting people on our excursions

We meet interesting people on our excursions

We enjoyed coffee and cheesecake before exploring Arniston

We enjoyed coffee and cheesecake before exploring Arniston

We decided not to do the cave as the tide was wrong, it was cold and we did not feel like slipping on the rocks.  We’ve all been in the cave before so didn’t really miss the experience but it is well worth it on a good day.

We found some more birds for our list on the dunes and around the village.

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Cape Sugarbird

A Cape Francolin showed us her chicks

A Cape Francolin showed us her chicks

A Cape Bunting

A Cape Bunting

Karoo Robin posed obligingly

Karoo Robin posed obligingly

We then set off for Struisbaai taking a good long time to get home too!  All in all the round trip took us 7 hours.

Jackal buzzard

Jackal buzzard

Rock Kestrel

Rock Kestrel

Bokmakierie

Bokmakierie

The guys cooked steak and sweet potato on the braai, gem squash in the micro and we served it all with a Greek salad.    More to follow tomorrow.

Male bonding at the fire

Male bonding at the fire

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