Invitation: Hiking the Khomas Hochland, March 2020

Stok - en - Hoed

We are already excited about the start of next year’s hiking season, with quite a number of fresh ideas up our sleeve..

Our first overnight hike for the new year will come early in the form of the Khomas Hochland Hiking Trail (4-day backpacking option), starting and ending on Düsternbrook guest farm about 50 kilometres from Windhoek. Being Stok-en-Hoed’s first attempt at this venture, we certainly want to use the opportunity to invite a few other nature lovers along!

  • Tuesday 17 to Friday 20 March, 55 km trail
  • Sleep on Düsternbrook the night before start (Monday 16)
  • Variety of wild- and birdlife on offer: Giraffe, kudu, oryx, waterbuck etc.
  • 7 places available, for a chance to spend 4 days away from town
  • N$ 1200 per person, excluding transport and own rations
  • N$ 300 deposit due Monday 18 November 2019 (first come first served!)
  • Bookings and enquiries:

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Update: Scouting Düsternbrook

Stok - en - Hoed

Setting foot in unfamiliar territory this past weekend certainly did not disappoint in any way. Düsternbrook offers great trail potential with a variety of wildlife, interesting vegetation and geology, as well as a proper test for physical endurance all on offer. The area varies from hilly terrain typical of the Khomas Hochland to meandering riverbeds with peculiar rock formations – a vast area beckoning to be discovered properly.

We look forward with anticipation to the 2020 hiking season for a chance to return and explore some more…

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The Hills are Alive…

San on the Lam

Sunday 05 June-Tuesday 07 June 2005. Costa Rica.

This was our last morning at Selva Verde. Typically, it was wet, but it’s not called ‘rainforest’ for nothing! Today we were travelling west, and a little south, to a new area called Monteverde. First, though, we had time for a last look around the grounds of Selva Verde-definitely the ‘green forest’ of its name.

We were delighted to find our first Chestnut-mandibled Toucans (now known as Yellow-throated Toucan), predictably high up in the trees. Still, fun to watch and we got some shots through the telescope again.

I really don’t know why they have changed the name to ‘Yellow-throated’, since both this species and the Keel-billed Toucan have yellow throats, but only this one has the chestnut-coloured lower bill. Either way, they are very smart-looking birds.

Monteverde is an interesting area. It was founded by American Quakers, who were avoiding the…

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Simple Pleasures

San on the Lam

Monday 04 November 2019. Nova Scotia.

A few weeks ago our venerable minivan was back-ended whilst waiting to turn left at a junction. The old chap driving the ‘back-ender’ just wasn’t really taking notice. His big flat-bed truck (the transport ‘du jour’ of Cape Sable Island) did a fair bit of damage to the tailgate and back bumper on the van. Our towing hitch and ball did rather more damage to the front of his truck. Long story short, the van has to be repaired, and it went in to the shop today.

For the duration, and courtesy of the ‘back ender’s’ insurance, we got a courtesy car, or I should say, ‘truck’. For some reason we ended up with a crew-cab flat-bed, which has been quite fun to drive around. If Mark could be persuaded to don a ball cap, we would fit right in round here! The body…

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Sacha Lodge

San on the Lam

Sunday 02 December-Monday 03 December 2007.  Ecuador.

Sacha Lodge was an amazing place. Remote but luxurious. Thatched roof cabins and five-star cuisine. It was a never-to-be-forgotten experience to stay there and we were never bored. On Sunday-no day of rest for birders!-we headed out into the field (lake) again, heading for the boardwalk and another boat trip on the river.

The boardwalk didn’t disappoint, again, with excellent views of a Red Howler monkey working his way through the palm fronds.

Red Howler Monkey (photo by Mark)

A Ladder-tailed Nightjar on the edge of the boardwalk was a nice find, too.

Ladder-tailed Nightjar (photo by Mark)

Today’s target location was to be the islands in the Rio Napo. These tend to come and go a bit, silting up and wearing away, but they are home to some specialty species not found elsewhere. We were lucky to find some nice birds, such…

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Bird’s ID – Rose-breasted Grosbeak

H.J. Ruiz - Avian101

Rose-breasted Grosbeak


The Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) is a large, seed-eating grosbeak in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae). It is primarily a foliage gleaner. It breeds in cool-temperate North America, migrating to tropical America in winter.

Adult birds are 18–22 cm (7.1–8.7 in) long, span 29–33 cm (11–13 in) across the wings and weigh 35–65 g (1.2–2.3 oz). Grosbeaks measured during migration in the West Indies averaged 43 g (1.5 oz), while those banded in Pennsylvania average about 45 g (1.6 oz). Very little sexual dimorphism in size is seen; females were found to be marginally smaller in standard measurements, but in some seasons were marginally heavier than males when banded in Pennsylvania. At all ages and in both sexes, the beak is dusky horn-colored, and the feet and eyes are dark.

The first birds leave the breeding grounds as early as August, while the last ones do not return until mid-late May. In general, however, they migrate south…

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