Wrapping Up 2017

Natural Moments

While most of the country seems to be dealing with really cold temperatures and a fair amount of snow, the weather around here the last couple of weeks has been unusually mild with temperatures reaching the mid-60s most days, clear and sunny. Recent Audubon Thursday Birder outings to Tingley Ponds and the Rio Grande Nature Center turned up good numbers of species under much more comfortable conditions than typical for this time of year. One of the last species we’d add at Tingley was the Wood Duck, a good number of which were seen in one of the fishing ponds as the group was going through their species list. These are both males, but there were a number of females in the large group.

Wood Duck

A couple of days later on a quick trip to Embudito Canyon, I spotted a Crissal Thrasher in the middle of the arroyo –…

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Perth Bonsai Tour – CJ Leo

Bonsai Eejit

After visiting John on my first stop, John and Nigel took me over to CJ’s home to see a superb collection of bonsai crammed into his garden. CJ has been creating bonsai for a long time and this showed in the hundreds of trees he was working on. I was most impressed by his use of native Australian species. I suspect that many of his trees will feature in 2021, and rightly so. Great detail in the images he’s created and nice to see plenty of shohin.

In such a full garden it’s hard to get a good clean shot of the trees. The strong sunshine also blows out any details. A pity I couldn’t do justice to CJ’s trees. He also grows the best blueberries I ever tasted. Is there no end to his talents? 🙂

CJ thank you for your great welcome and a nice lunch to boot.

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Hermanus Bird Club

The fynbos gamebirds have enjoyed good conditions this season, producing large clutches of healthy chicks.   Our concern, however, is that the attrition rate is very high and the question is why? One proud Guineafowl mother arrived out of the Fernkloof fynbos in Voelklip with 12 gorgeous, fluffy little chicks. Next day there was only one left and the following day she came alone!

Cape Spur fowl seem to be a bit more successful at rearing their chicks. Early in the season we had five families with an average of six babies on arrival here and they have raised on average, three to juvenile stage. In January two new families arrived in our garden, possibly second breedings for the season?   This week we witnessed a very dramatic exchange with a traumatised, frantic Spur fowl mother and a Slender mongoose, who had nipped in and grabbed one of her chicks.  Enraged and…

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The World’s Oldest Wild Bird

Hermanus Bird Club

“There was huge excitement last week at the Midway Atoll Bird Refuge in the South Pacific, when 67 year old Laysan Albatross, named Wisdom, appeared once again and commenced breeding with her long-term partner.

Wisdom was first ringed on Midway as a 5 year old in 1956 by seabird ornithologist Chandler Robbins and has been returning regularly ever since, raising a chick most years. She is thus the world’s oldest known wild bird.

Midway Atoll is the largest albatross breeding colony in the world and is home to more than 70% of the world’s Laysan Albatrosses.

Considering the hazards posed by long-line fishing boats and plastic ingestion Wisdom appears to be extremely fortunate to have survived for so long and to still be producing viable offspring.

Long may she continue!”

Mike Ford


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On the Klein River with the Lady Stanford

Hermanus Bird Club

The Stanford Bird Club very kindly invited a representative of HBC to join them on their inaugural cruise down the Klein River in the newly launched ‘Lady Stanford’ and Renee and I were the lucky participants.  We set off at 7:30 am this morning along with around 20 local birders and spent three and a half hours enjoying the wonderful birding along the river.

The Lady Stanford is a purpose built river boat and it provided a wonderful platform from which to enjoy the abundant birdlife that the region has to offer.  We saw no less than 70 species.  There were many Giant Kingfishers, abundant African Darters, all the Grebes, three Herons, Falmingos galore and much more.  The juvenile African Harrier-Hawk was a highlight as it pecked at its branch, and we saw two Osprey, as well a s a number of Fish Eagles.

At one point, a Bontebok on…

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A MASSIVE Find for Hermanus

Hermanus Bird Club

On Saturday morning Renee and I went to Rooisand to see if we could find the Pectoral Sandpiper that had been reported there.  As we approached the hide, we met up with Lester and Cheryl van Groeningen, and entered the hide together, whence we searched the surrounding area.  We could not locate the Sandpiper, but suddenly Lester drew our attention to a whiter than usual Wagtail and we all wondered about this unusual looking bird, thinking that it was an aberrant form of Cape Wagtail.  Luckily Lester had his big lens with him and took a few photos, which he circulated to Trevor and Faansie.  At first they were not to excited about the bird, but Lester pursued the issue with them and they asked for more images.

We were, therefore, delighted yesterday evening to see that both Faansie and Trevor had put out notes suggesting that this bird is…

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The aptly named ‘Glossy Ibis”


Birding early this morning along the edge of the Klein River Lagoon near Hermanus, I was delighted to come across a flock of Glossy Ibis.  One can immediately see why they are so named, when their plumage reflects the morning sun.  They were not too concerned about my presence and continued foraging, along with some Hadeda Ibis, Egyptian Geese, Sacred Ibis, Blacksmith Lapwings and many Red-knobbed Coot.  The lagoon itself was inundated with hundreds of Coot and ducks and was a sight to behold!

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Walking in Vogelgat


Renee and I walked in Vogelgat this morning.  The temperature was 19 degrees when we started at 6:30 am but by the time we had completed our 4 hour hike, it had risen to 30 degrees!  Luckily there was a stiff breeze blowing and it kept us cool most of the time.

The fynbos was looking magnificent.  It is hard to believe, when one is on the mountain, that we are in the midst of a drought.  The only real evidence is the lack of water in the streams – some were completely dry!

We climbed around 450 metres to the Mossel Nook hut.  On the way we saw Cape Rockjumper and Ground Woodpecker, so were well pleased with the effort!  Then the track leveled off as we walked to Quark, seeing some wonderful flowers, including Disa tripetaloides. From Quark, there were many sunbirds and we also got a few…

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What’s in a name? Vernacular designations for some birds lack imagination

Our Fine Feathered Friends

I took part in a Christmas Bird Count last month. These annual mid-December surveys of bird populations are not quite as exciting as counts held during the spring or fall migration periods each year, but they can produce some interesting results. One exciting post-count activity after taking part in a CBC is getting together to compile the results tallied by the various participating groups and individuals. The results are usually compiled on field checklists for birds of Tennessee. These checklists, which are produced by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and the Tennessee Ornithological Society, feature a listing of the common name of every bird species likely to be encountered in the state.

AmKestrel-Flight Photo by USFWS/Robert Burton • An American kestrel in flight shows the aerodynamic design that earned this small falcon the common name of sparrow hawk.

The compiler generally reads out the various names on the checklist, which lists…

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