Buttonquail bash and others - June 2010

Hi All,

I had a simple brief from a client, "I  need 2 birds to complete my Cape Town land birds,  Chukar Partridge and Hottentot Buttonquail."

The challenge for Buttonquail was taken up and with some friends I took the client to Cape Point, a spot that I had seen them twice before.

We walked for about 3hrs in beautiful weather without any success, but it was not wasted as we did some atlassing whilst there.  We also met Barry Rose who had just finished a "Quail" walk there and he informed us that he has not seen the HB-Q there since the fire 2 years ago even though the habitat had recovered.  He birds this area at least once a month.  We did not feel so bad!

We decided to call on Botriver/Arabella today and arriving there about 9am started walking the suitable habitat.  After a long walk, this worked and we flushed one Hottentot Buttonquail which gave reasonable views, and flushed it again which gave even better views.  One happy client!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No others were flushed over the rest of the habitat so we decided to move on the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens after a scanned the Botriver for more birds(for the pentad of course) and the notable ones were a large flock of Pelicans and a group of Whimbrel and a lone Osprey patrolling the waters.

What a surprise when we arrived at Betty's Bay!   A fire last week which came over the mountain from the Kogelberg/Palmiet River side had burnt right down into Harold Porter Gardens.  From the western side of the Palmiet River Bridge over Elephant Rock, round the front and over the top to Harold Porter it was all burnt!  The fire stopped in the gardens just above the ponds and lawn. The areas not burnt were Leopards and Disa Kloofs but the rest is gone. We did not go as high up as the Leopards Kloof bridge as we could not see ANY vegetation except a little in the riverbeds!  I would say that 90% was gone and it is such a pity as the previous fire less than 5 years ago had also destroyed the larger trees and which had not fully recovered….dam!  Took some pics for the sad record.  Obviously Victorin's Warblers have all had to move away, whereto is anyone's guess!  Only heard one across the water at Disa Kloof.

We then moved on to Rooi-els, where we did not expect much as the wind was pushing a cold front in and it was after lunch.  The first bird we saw was a Familiar Chat and then a pair of Sentinel Rock-thrushes next to the dirt road, with Ground Woodpecker calling from the cliff-face.  Not bad for a start!  A stiff breeze out of the north only blew near the gate and once around the corner the walk was pleasant with the resident Black Eagle cruising near its nest.  I could not see any activity on or near the nest.  A scan of the sea produced a number of Shy Albatross about 500m offshore…. always helps when the wind is blowing towards you at Rooi-els.  No White-chinned Petrels though but a Skua cruised by, probably Sub-antarctic?  A Cape Rock-thrush called mournfully from a rock a little way up the slope and high up towards the cliff-face Cape Rockjumper did their distinctive call and even Vicky called from the thicker fynbos towards the sea.  A lone Fiscal Flycatcher was seen …..unusual on the mountainside!  Plenty of Orange-breasted and S Double-coloured Sunbirds and Cape Sugarbirds, and not to forget the Grassbirds.  Pity no Cape Siskin, Neddicky or Yellow Bishop but this turned out to be worthwhile stop in the mid afternoon!

Great birding in Western Cape in autumn.

Happy birding,
Brian Vanderwalt