I led a Tygerberg Bird Club outing and of course a pentad outing to Karoo Botanical Gardens (Worcester) on Sat 17th. A group of 30 members met at 8ish in fresh weather at the entrance parking, with snow close on the Brandberg Mts but luckily no wind. Pretty soon it warmed up after birding in spots that a slither of sun coming over the hills.
A small group of Red-faced Mousebirds flew ahead and gave great views on top of a small tree. It was not long before a call of "Tchagra" was made, one of the target birds, but unfortunately not seen by all. A pair of Fairy Flycatchers flitted through the small shrubs but as always never still for a long time. Once the sun warmed up the landscape birding became more productive. Karoo Scrub-robin, White-backed Mousebird, Grey-backed Cisticola, Bokmakierie, Karoo Prinia, Cape Bunting and Pied Barbet were easily seen. The duet of the Bar-throated Apalis was clear in the crisp air with 2 Brimstone Canaries spoiling it with their "grrrr" call. However still a great Canary to see if only it learnt to sing!!!!! Maybe they should take a leaf out of the Streaky-headed Seedeater's songbook which called close by. Huge flocks of Red-winged Starlings arrived from their mountain roosts, some even getting a second look as they looked like Pale-winged with the morning light shining through and diluting the red wings. Wonder if Pale-winged have been seen there before? A Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler frustrated us for a short while before it decided that the sun was actually warm and popped out onto a dry stick for all to see. Very neat "little grey man" this! With the aloes in flower, breeding plumage Cape Weavers were feeding merrily. And with all the pollen on their throats and faces they almost had a golden appearance.
We worked our way up the side of the hill where we saw a Familiar Chat, White-throated Canary, White-necked Raven, Rock Kestrel which had caught a mouse and a lone Mountain Wheatear. On our way a down a large low flying flock of Alpine Swifts entertained us. It must be some of the first returning batch. No Cape Siskin were seen. A lone Black Harrier cruise fairly high over the ridge, always good to see. I need to log that on Google Earth and advise Rob Simmons. A screech from the nursery saw us chasing and seeing a Cardinal Woodpecker displaying his red crown in the sun, great sighting. After a bite to eat we did our bird list and came up with 50 species seen in the reserve.
A few of us did the rest of the pentad afterwards and added another 28 species, with Jackal Buzzard, Peregrine, Martial Eagle on the raptor side and numerous water birds were seen at the Sewerage Works. Pochard and Grey-headed Gull were welcome sightings as was a friendly Grey Tit.
All in all a lovely day weather wise and birding wise with 78 for the pentad.