Stanford Outing

Hermanus Bird Club

Twenty two birders enjoyed a perfect morning at Stanford today.  The weather was glorious and there were plenty of interesting birds to see.  Barbara and Graham presented us with a good walk around the village, which included the path along the river, then via Vlei road to Appel se Dam.  We saw a total of 69 species, including such rarities as the beautiful Hottentot Teal and a Black Harrier.

The full list comprised:    Bar-throated Apalis; Southern Red Bishop; Cape Bulbul; Jackal Buzzard; Cape Canary; Le Vaillant’s Cisticola; Red-Knobbed Coot; Reed Cormorant; White-breasted Cormorant; Black Crake; African Darter; Laughing Dove; Red-eyed Dove; Fork-tailed Drongo; White-backed Duck; White-faced Duck; Yellow-billed Duck; Cattle Egret; Common Fiscal; Greater Flamingo; African Dusky Flycatcher; Fiscal Flycatcher; Egyptian Goose; Spur-winged Goose; African Goshawk; Little Grebe; Sombre Greenbul; Helmeted Guineafowl; Black Harrier; African Harrier-Hawk; Black-headed Heron; Grey Heron; Purple Heron; African Hoopoe; Hadeda Ibis; Sacred Ibis; Giant…

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My Birding Year 2017 (Part 2) – Atlasing, Twitching, An Island and more

Mostly Birding

Following on Part 1 of My Birding Year for 2017  ………  guess what, here’s Part 2!

So here’s a synopsis of my birding activities during the second half of 2017 along with photos of a few of the species encountered and places visited.


The first week saw me back in Kasane for a project visit and we managed to fit in a memorable drive through Chobe Riverfront where the game viewing took precedence, but the birdlife was hard to ignore, particularly the Carmine Bee-eaters

Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Chobe Riverfront

Greater Blue-eared Starling, Chobe Riverfront

Later on in the month I was back to atlasing in the area south of Bronkhorstspruit, some 50 km east of Pretoria, dominated by the drab midwinter “browns” of the highveld and providing some challenging birding in the form of very similar looking small birds in their winter plumage.

Southern Red Bishop (winter plumage), Bronkhorstspruit area

White-winged Widow (winter…

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My Birding Year 2017 (Part 1) – Atlasing, Twitching, Cruising and more

Mostly Birding

Another memorable Birding Year has come and gone – a year filled once again with travelling to many familiar places and some exciting new ones, atlasing at every opportunity, a number of new birds seen and enough experiences to fill my journal to the brim.

So here’s a synopsis of my birding activities during the year along with photos of a few of the species encountered and places visited. Some of the trips are covered in separate posts in a lot more detail.


Our year kicked off in Mossel Bay, our home town for some of the year and I took the opportunity to do some atlasing / birdmapping in the area – Hartenbos and the adjoining inland in particular.

Agulhas Long-billed Lark in full song

On the 9th I had the unexpected thrill of finding a Pectoral Sandpiper, classed as a national rarity, which I duly reported to Trevor…

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My Photo Picks for 2017 – Part 2

Mostly Birding

Here’s a further selection of my favourite photos taken during 2017 – from our travels, holidays and birding trips 

If you have any favourites, do let me know by adding your comment!

The Birds (Continued)

Southern Ground Hornbill, Chobe Game Reserve, Botswana

Kelp Gull, Vleesbaai, Western Cape

Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Mossel Bay

Chinspot Batis, Verlorenkloof in Mpumulanga

White-fronted Bee-eater, Verlorenkloof

Capped Wheatear, Chobe Riverfront

Yellow-billed Stork, Phinda Game Reserve in North Kwazulu-Natal

Pied Kingfisher, Phinda

Red-capped Robin-Chat, Pigeon Valley Durban

Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Chobe Riverfront

Malachite Kingfisher, Chobe River

Reed Cormorant, Chobe River

Little Egret, Chobe River

African Spoonbill, Chobe River

Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Chobe River

Long-toed Lapwing, Chobe River

Yellow-billed Stork, Chobe River

Pied Starling, Vlaklaagte near Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng

Mountain Wheatear (female), near Oudtshoorn

Hottentot Teal, Marievale Gauteng

Booted Eagle, Mossel Bay

Fork-tailed Drongo, north of Herbertsdale, Western Cape

The Reptiles

Mole snake, Delmas area

Boomslang, Bushfellows Game Lodge near Marble Hall

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My Photo Picks for 2017 – Part 1

Mostly Birding

Here’s a selection of my favourite photos taken during 2017 – from our travels, holidays and birding trips – chosen from my collection of over 2500 photos for the year. Each one has a story attached which I have tried to capture in a few words………..

If you have any favourites, do let me know by adding your comment!

The Places

Kasane Forest Reserve – lush after good summer rains

Early morning, Delmas area – on my way to do some bird atalsing

Champagne Valley – a weekend in the Drakensberg

Drakensberg grassland

Bourkes Luck Potholes – on tour with our Canadian family

Thaba Tsweni lodge – near Sabie, Mpumulanga

Victoria Falls National Park – more touring with the canadians

The bridge at Vic Falls National Park

Kingdom Hotel Vic Falls

Chobe sunset, Kasane – incomparable

Flock at Sea Cruise – back in Cape Town Harbour early morning

Sandbaai near Hermanus


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Knysna Warbler – at last!

Mostly Birding

24 December 2017 – 7.42 pm : Knysna Warbler / Bradypterus sylvaticus (Knysnaruigtesanger) becomes my latest lifer – number 765 on my Southern Africa life list and the 9th addition to my life list for 2017. Location : Mossel Bay Golf Estate

Those are the bare facts and as I was not able to get a photo of this elusive bird, the post could end right here………    but there is more to the story than that of how I came to find this bird.

Firstly, some information on this species, starting with an extract from Roberts Birds of Southern Africa :

Status – Uncommon to rare and localised endemic; regarded as vulnerable

Habitat – Dense tangled thickets on edge of forests and along watercourses

General Habits – Very secretive; presence usually revealed only when calling

The Eskom Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa adds to this :

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Into the Wilderness – A Forest, A Big Tree and a Ghostly Dove

Mostly Birding

Forest Magic

There’s nothing like a walk in a natural forest to heighten the senses – once you have walked a short distance into the forest, the background sounds of daily life are gradually reduced and eventually all you can hear are the sounds of the forest itself. The bird calls become prominent and even the rustle of leaves as a bird or small creature moves through the canopy or the forest floor can suddenly be heard.

If you are lucky enough to have a patch of forest to yourself, you can almost feel a bubble forming around you as you enter a private world with just the forest sounds, the smell of the trees and the soft feel of the leaf-strewn pathway for company.

This was my experience during a recent visit to the Woodville “Big Tree” forest near Hoekwil in the Southern Cape. The forest lies beyond the Wilderness (not the actual…

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Japan Day Countdown Part 3 (Final prep)


Final day of preparations… I have only one tree that I feel comfortable displaying at such a prestigious event. You will know this tree as my feature tree, it is my trusted Celtis Africana I wrote a blog about it’s progression I have trimmed the tree and applied Oleum to the foliage to help protect it from pests. Seeing that the tree will be displayed with trees from other bonsai artist in an open air style setting with trees above our exhibition. I added new ground cover as the ground cover gets washed away during my regular watering routine.

Below you can see the tree before I applied Oleum, added ground cover and after final prep.

As always my nerves are getting the better of me. Overthink everything and wondering what the outcome will be. Knowing who the other competitors are does not make it any easier. Every five…

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Ficus project finalized.


It’s been a while since I have worked on the trees in my collection. I have been away for work, almost two weeks now. As you can imagine my list of things that needs to be done has multiplied. I spend the last two days working my butt off to get ahead of all the work I have in front of me. As we all know trees do not stop growing just because your busy.

Enough said, today I want to share a journey of a tree that I am currently bringing back to life after it was neglected for a few months last year. This tree was a present to a client. It started out as a garden tree. It was planted in my clients garden but the dogs started biting it, it stood still, did not grow and was declining fast. They ask me to plant it in…

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