27th February 2018 – Camps Bay

This was to be a non “nature” day but there were a couple of things of interest on our walk through Camps Bay this morning.

We have only ever seen dassies on the top of Table Mountain so it was interesting to see them on the boulders in Camps Bay  at the bottom of Table Mountain.

One of the most unbelievable facts about Table Mountain’s dassies is that they are the closest related relatives to elephants. Despite the enormous difference in size between the two, research has claimed the dassie is the African elephant’s closest living relative. (see article)




DSC00760We saw several dassies in this bay at Camps Bay 

I’m not sure what these terns are in the photo but (having read the following article can guess at sandwich terns.




Travelog Tuesday 27th February 2018

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26th February 2018 – Hout Bay and Boulders Beach

Today we had the best of the weather so far on our trip with lots of sunshine and no cool wind until the evening.

We had a walk along the beach in Hout Bay in the early morning and saw our small cormorant (joined by a few others today) and a seal which came zooming up close to us on the beach.



We took the amazingly spectacular route along Chapman’s Peak to Simon’s Town to see the fascinating African Penguins on Boulders Beach. The swift terns and the Cape wagtails also put on a good display. The kelp gulls were very threatening and we even saw one steal a penguin’s egg.











Click below for gallery of photos from this morning:



Travelog for Monday 26th February

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25th February 2018 – West Coast National Park Western Cape

A very full day visiting several hides in the West Coast National Park 120 kilometres up the west coast from Cape Town.

We reached the lagoon at high tide and so most of the birds were quite distant but we visited other hides where the birds were much more accessible. I still can’t believe how the rock kestrel posed for us only a few yards from the car.

I look forward to some free time to identify some of the birds I haven’t got to grip with yet.

DSC00004Rock kestrel


DSC09954Cape bunting

DSC09963Cape sparrow

DSC09975Cape sparrow

DSC09984White-throated canary 

DSC09919African sacred ibis

DSC09894African sacred ibis


DSC09724Yellow-billed duck


DSC00109Lesser flamingo

DSC00081Lesser flamingo


DSC00160On the foreshore there were curlew sandpiper, bar-tailed godwits, sanderlings and a few other small jobbies.

DSC00191I’m sure I have seen this grey heron in Eastville Park

Click below for gallery of photos from today:


Travelog for Sunday 25th February

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24th February 2018 – Rondevlei Nature Reserve

This morning we visited the Rondevlei Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Cape Town. We arrived at the same time as a very excited school group and thought that our visit might be a disaster but we had a wonderful time with good sightings of a good number of species.

There have been sightings of 231 different species at this reserve since it opened in 1952. I hope to be able to identify some of the birds we saw today in the next couple of days if I get a few minutes to myself but our social programme has been very busy and as yet have not had the time, although we did get quite a lot of help from a very friendly and helpful lady birder in one of the hides.

A few of my favourites from this morning with a gallery of the other photos at the end (the last few were from the playing fields of SACS College where we watched some cricket and had a braai with our South African (and French) friends,

DSC08813Karoo Prinia

DSC09083Cape wagtail

DSC09059Three-banded plover

DSC08892Pin-tailed Whydah

DSC08911Common waxbill


DSC08844Black-winged stilt and greenshank

DSC08992Avocet and black-winged stilt

DSC09172Great white pelican

DSC09175Great white pelican

DSC09348Blacksmith lapwing

DSC09312Glossy ibis

DSC09241Barn swallow


DSC09124Yellow-billed duck

DSC09558View across the reserve

DSC09573Sacred ibis



Click below for gallery of today’s photos:


Travelog for Saturday 24th February

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23rd February 2018 – Camps Bay, Cape Town

Nothing terribly adventurous today – just a walk along the beach in Camps Bay to the next bay at Clifton.

Masses of cormorants flying south and a few north – a mixture of Cape cormorants and a back bird with brown wings (probably a red-winged starling), a great black-backed gull, Egyptian geese which are obviously considered as pests locally, and a little egret.



DSC08583Cape cormorant

DSC08742Bank cormorant


Cormorants of South Africa



DSC08604Could this be a red winged-starling? – can’t wait to get my hands on a bird book




DSC08702Egyptian goose



DSC08730Little egret

Also saw some Cape wagtails along the main road in Camps bay.

Today’s travelog

Menu Cape Town February/March 2018



22nd February 2018 – Hout Bay

In the morning we had a very pleasant walk along the beach at Hout Bay where we saw a number of gulls and a very small cormorant-like bird diving in very shallow water and a single swallow (one swallow doesn’t make a summer but it’s definitely summer here).

DSC07994Bird photographer in local camouflage at Hout Bay




DSC07903Bank cormorant

We had enjoyed a very pleasant breakfast at Hout Bay and, not feeling like lunch, we made the silly mistake of visiting The World of Birds in the hottest point of the day.

We had doubts about seeing caged birds but as this is very much a bird sanctuary we thought it would be worthwhile. We believed we were nearing the end (literally) after cages 17 and 18 but discovered this was only the first section and that in all there were over 150 cages.

Here are photos of a few of the 400 species that can be seen at The World Birds from our (exhausting) visit.


Today’s travelog

Menu Cape Town February/March 2018


21st February 2018 – Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Town

On our first full day in Cape Town we visited the National Botanical Gardens of Kirstenbosch – surely one of my top ten best places in the world.

The gardens were as spectacular as ever and we had a few glimpses of birds on the coast road to Kirstenbosch (mainly cormorants) and at the gardens (although as yet I don’t quite know what I’m seeing).

DSC07406Seals and sea birds on the coast road out of Camps Bay


A sample of birds from Kirstenbosch:

DSC07527 Egyptian Goose

DSC07598Guinea Fowl





And some of the amazing flora:













I have created a travelog page of our stay in Cape Town for family and friends who might be interested (but they won’t all be nature photos).

Menu Cape Town February/March 2018



19th February 2018 – nature reading

I have just finished reading Horatio Clare’s charming little book Orison for a Curlew about the (possibly) extinct slender-billed curlew. It’s a mix of travel and nature writing


My photo and plate are taken from the entry about the slender-billed curlew in Wikipedia

I so enjoyed reading this book and thought it would be worthwhile to record the nature books that I have read and enjoyed in the last few months:

Horatia Clare (2015) Orison for a Curlew (Little Toller)

Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss (2017) Wonderland A Year of Britain’s Wildlife, Day by Day (John Murray)

Rosamond Richardson (2017) Waiting for the Albino Dunno How Birds Can Change Your Life (Weidenfield & Nicholson)
Simon Barnes (2017) The Meaning of Birds (Kindle Edition

Lars Gejl (2016) Waders of Europe A Photographic Guide (Bloomsbury)

I have also created a bibliography page which I will add to as time allows.





17th February 2018 – Stoke Park and Eastville Park

Circumstances and dismal weather have limited my sorties recently and so I enjoyed my walk through Stoke Park and Eastville Park this morning, especially as the weather was  milder and the birds are beginning to sing (although most of the noise seemed to come from robins which were just about everywhere).

In Stoke Park the first bird I heard (and then saw) was a song thrush.


Next, in the (very) wet area next to Duchess Pond there was a male stonechat but no sign of the female. The crows even seemed quite cheery.


There were a couple of Canada geese on Duchess Pond, a few mallards and even more moorhens.


Before leaving Stoke Park a dunnock appeared and had plenty to say for itself.


In Eastville Park there were even more robins (I counted 10 different robins on my walk) and half a dozen long=tailed tits.



I was disappointed not to see a kingfisher at the lake but I think I was just unlucky as there were several reports of one. There was a cormorant fishing and it was interesting to see that some of the black-headed gulls are now getting proper black heads.



DSCF0585Some of the heads of the black-headed gulls are quite black now


DSCF0535The blackbirds were outnumbered by the robins this morning

The pigeons and wood pigeons were enjoying the sun too.




I spent a while watching a juvenile grey heron trying to fish but it didn’t seem to have the knack and was looking rather disheveled.



Near the weir I had very good views of a grey wagtail and then, just before I left the park, I saw the flash of a kingfisher fly along the River Frome.



When I arrived home I was beaming like the red breast of the robin.

DSCF0797A robin and holly – it could be Christmas!

DSCF0692A squirrel enjoying its stash of nuts.

DSCF0696More encouraging signs that winter is moving on – snowdrops next to the River Frome.

DSCF0704A blue tit also making lots of noise.





4th February 2018 – Siston Brook, Willsbridge

I saw a tweet (from Rojobus) about dippers (or the lack of them) in Siston Brook, Willsbridge and realised that the brook led to St. Anne’s Church (now famous for hawfinches and ring-necked parakeets) and thought I would have another go at seeing hawfinches. We had no luck but really enjoyed the stroll up from Willsbridge Mill (with its pleasant café) to St Anne’s Church.


We were treated to snowdrops, crocuses, catkins, a fleeting glimpse of a dipper and several views of a kingfisher. There were reports of ring-necked parakeets but none of hawfinches.

MT1D2653The ring-necked parakeet which I had seen at St Anne’s Church on the 29th January.


DSC07274The trees are beginning to show signs of life


DSC07243The beautiful willow below St Anne’s Church



DSC07282Crocuses and snowdrops

St Anne’s Church is a real delight (with its Commonwealth War Memorial graves) and beautiful yew trees.





The walk back was brightened by a cheery robin singing its heart out.


DSC07266A cheery robin singing near to Siston Brook

Click below for gallery of photos from this morning: