The Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden

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A visit this afternoon to the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden near Stellenbosch, revealed a world of wonderful art set in a large and beautiful garden, sometimes sculptured to match the art displayed within it.  Even the buildings left one breathless with their simple beauty and the form, seamlessly mixing traditional and modern.

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From De Kelders to Grotto Beach

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Eight Hurriers set out from De Kelders this morning at the start of our walk to Grotto Beach.  The weather and the tides were perfect and we enjoyed a really wonderful excursion on this lovely stretch of beach.  Gulls and Oystercatchers abounded and watched our progress with interest, along with occasional Plovers, Wagtails and Whimbrels.

Sadly our enjoyment was somewhat marred by the presence of fisherman driving on the beach – where they had no right to be.  We questioned their being there and they said they had permits, but a subsequent enquiry at Cape Nature revealed that there is no such permit available.  We also saw people harvesting vast numbers of white mussels – way in excess of the allowed catch – further adding to our frustration. It really is sad to this abuse of our natural resources.

We walked a total of 18.5 km in just under 5…

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The Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden

roncorylus

A visit this afternoon to the Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden near Stellenbosch, revealed a world of wonderful art set in a large and beautiful garden, sometimes sculptured to match the art displayed within it.  Even the buildings left one breathless with their simple beauty and the form, seamlessly mixing traditional and modern.

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An Epic Birding Trip

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Renee and I left Hermanus on 25 October and returned yesterday, on 27 November, after driving over 8000 kms round South Africa on a birding adventure.  Our aim was to identify as many local birds as possible, out of a total of around 1000 South African species.  One might think this an easy task, but we were severely challenged in putting together a list of 427 species.  For us, it was a trip record, as we had never previously beaten 400, but we did take nearly 5 weeks this time and visited a variety of locations and habitats. The map below gives a rough idea of our progress and I will attempt to describe our adventure in a series of articles to follow.

BBY trip

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The Epic, Part 1 – Hermanus to St Francis Bay

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On leaving Hermanus, we traveled along the Garden Route to Knysna, our first stop.  Travelling on the N1, one has little time to see small birds, but the larger ones are recognisable from the car and so our list started, growing rapidly as it does when everything counts.  We deviated around the lagoons at Wilderness and enjoyed the various bird hides and look-outs.  Once at Knysna, we visited the Goukamma Reserve and had good sightings of African Marsh Harriers and Black-winged Lapwings flying overhead.  There was also a Western Osprey over the village and the walks around Leisure Isle and along the lagoon edge at Belvedere, proved fruitful.

Leaving Knysna, we traveled via Nature’s Valley, always a good forest birding spot, but did not see a lot.  Our journey took us to St Francis Bay, where we were meeting up with friends for a few days of wild orchid hunting. …

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The Epic, Part 2 – St Francis Bay to Underberg

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We left St Francis Bay a day earlier than planned in order to fit in a night at Stutterheim, a small village next to a good indigenous forest – home to the White-starred Robin, a target bird.  A delightful establishment called ‘The Shire’ had a cottage available and we spent a very comfortable night in what could only be described as absolutely enchanting surroundings.  We were on the edge of the forest, with an outside shower for warm weather.  Although small, our cottage was very well equipped and afforded us the opportunity to really spend time in the forest.

From there we went to Gonubie, with the intention of visiting two Nature Reserves, only to find that both were closed over the weekend!  We were very disappointed and could do little birding except along the river, however, it was the weekend of the Rugby World Cup Final, so we enjoyed…

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The Epic, Part 3 – Underberg to Bonamanzi

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From Underberg, we took the road to Eshowe in Zululand.  We had spent 18 months there in 1976, but found he town much changed.  What was the same was the Dhlinza Forest, a well-known birding spot in the middle of the village.  We stayed at a beautiful farm , The Chase, where we occupied a comfortable cottage set in a magnificent garden.  Jono and Jane Chennels were our hosts and were extremely hospitable and went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed.  They farm mainly sugar cane, but have recently started growing proteas for export and this has proved to be very successful.

We birded in the Forest and got our first lifer of the trip, a Green Twinspot, which came to the hide, along with Tambourine Doves, Purple-crested Turacos and Red-winged Mannikins.  Our stroll along the boardwalk was rewarding and we also hiked one…

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The Epic, Part 4 – Bonamanzi to Hazyview

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We were sad to leave Bonamanzi, as it had the potential for at least a day or two more, but time was marching on and we still had a lot of ground to cover, so we set off for Wakkerstroom.  This is a well-known birding spot on the Highveld and is best know for its Larks and Pipits.  We checked into the well appointed Wetlands Lodge, which caters mainly for birders and were pleased with our accommodation in The Sheds, their self catering section.

Larks being as enigmatic as they are meant that we needed a guide, so we engaged the services of Michael for a morning and we certainly needed him!  Our first foray took us in search of Yellow-breasted Pipits and we were pleased when we found one, after quite a long search.  We also saw Blue Korhaan, as well as White-bellied Korhaan, and managed to see a…

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The Epic, Part 5 – Hazyview to The Waterberg

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After our time in Hazyview and the KNP, we set off for Magoebaskloof, a relatively short journey, but with some good stops along the way.  These were Graskop, where we walked at God’s Window, Bourke’s Potholes, and then our real objective; a stop near the J G Strydom tunnel to search for the Taita Falcon.  We found the local guide there and he first showed us a Mountain Wagtail and then we searched the cliff face for the falcon.  It was quite an effort, but we eventually saw it; no more than a small speck against the cliff, but one could see that it was a falcon!  This was lifer number 4 for the trip!

When we arrived at Magoebaskloof we had to find Robin Birder’s cottage.  Luckily we had good directions from the owner, as it is situated at the end of a very narrow and winding road through…

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