The next day we headed back to Wilderness National Park to hike the “Half-collared Kingfisher Trail”. This trail leads to a waterfall and is 7.2 km round trip. The day was cool, but sunny and we made the hike along with about 50+ other souls. Of course when you bird along the way you see a lot more people than if you had simply hiked the trail.
We heard then saw several Knysna Turacos. I love these birds and this one did not disappoint. The bird was huge. Okay, maybe it disappointed a little when it wouldn’t come out so I could get a good photo. Go figure. Of course it didn’t help that we were on a suspended boardwalk so anytime some walked by there was no way I could hold my camera still and we all know most birds don’t stay still for long either. I was just happy to see the bird.
We also got a good view of the Half-collared Kingfisher, which was a surprise. We didn’t expect to see the bird because they are not common. But the bird posed for us on a branch for a few seconds before flying off – stopped long enough for good views, but not long enough for a good photo, or any photo really. Am I becoming obsessed with photographing birds? I think so.
Also along the trail we spotted a Red-breasted Cuckoo, which is also a secretive bird. It’s call sounds like “whip-poor-will”. However, it was the bird’s flight to an adjacent tree that allowed us to see the bird at all since it wasn’t calling at that time. So we were happy to see these three new birds, two which we really didn’t expect to see at all.
The following day we headed to a small little park called Yellowwood Park that our host told us about. Great birding there and I finally got a decent look at the Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler. Woohoo!!! That was the bird I saw at Grootsvadersbosch Nature Reserve several days ago. We heard the Scaly-throated Honeyguide but couldn’t find its favorite perch high in the trees.
In the afternoon we headed to the “Big Tree” hoping to find a Knysna Warbler and White-starred Robin. No go for either bird. Dang. We did a nice 2 km hike, which was nice.
We tried to hike a trail called the Brown-hooded Kingfisher trail but after about 0.5 kms the trail was flooded so we had to turn around. They must have had a lot of rain that day we had the downpours in Oudtshoorn.
We left Knysna and headed towards Jeffrey’s Bay, stopping at the Tsitsikamma National Park to hike a trail in search of birds. Did see a fair number of birds, although no new ones. We got a ways down the trail when we saw some baboons, so made a hasty retreat back to the car. We hadn’t been back too long when the baboons came into the parking lot. We noticed that one of them was missing its left hind leg and left hand. Poor thing, as it kept its distance from the other baboons. It laid down on the picnic table and gave us a wistful look. But we didn’t succumb to its charms and didn’t give it any food. But my heart went out to the poor creature. We later saw a Rock Dassie that had a big wound on its side. Must have gotten into a fight or been attacked by a baboon or dog.
We spent the night at Jeffrey’s Bay, which is known for surfing. In the morning we took a walk on the beach and actually saw some dolphins surfing in the waves. Fun to watch. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Lots of African Black Oystercatchers about too.
We then headed to the Gambos River Estuary to check out the shorebirds and waders. Unfortunately we got there as the tide was coming in so didn’t get to see too many shorebirds. We took a short walk on the beach. To get there you had to cross the dunes, which I thought would be like slogging through the snow, but to my surprise the sand was hard and the walking easy. Lots of small shells on the beach and a few sea jellies.
Our next stop was the Island Nature Reserve where we went searching for the White Starred Robin and the Brown Scrub Robin. We did a short hike on the reserve trails, finally returning to the picnic area to check out the pond/bird bath. As we were waiting, several Forest Canaries arrived, followed by – YES!!! the White Starred Robin. The robin proceeded to take a bath, giving us good views. However, since the bird bath was in among some trees, the lighting was bad for photos. Plus the weather has been threatening rain all day long.
We are staying the next two nights in Port Elizabeth at a nice facility called Forest Hall. The owners gave us a complimentary upgrade and I now have a bathtub. Oh how I’ve been wishing to take a bath. Hooray!!! This place is really very nice.
One thing I’ve learned about the “Where to Find Birds in Southern Africa” book is you really need to read the descriptions. I did a cursory read when deciding where to go and how much time to spend in a given area. We are spending two nights in Port Elizabeth, although I think we could have spent only one. There aren’t that many places to bird along the “East Cape” of South Africa. While I have enjoyed the scenery, I’m not sure I would have come this way (it is a long way between Cape Town and Durban) on our trip.
We went to the Swartskoop Estuary today, but it was really hard to access the areas where the birds were located. We then drove to the Cape Recife Nature Reserve, but not much there either, with the exception of TWO Spotted Eagle Owls in plain view. If only my camera hadn’t died yesterday (and it isn’t even a year old – of course I have been using it almost every day since we left Alaska).
So no photos for today. I felt lost without my camera. Tomorrow we will stop at a local store to see if they have any Canons in stock.
NOTE: Although we are back from Africa, I thought since I would post a few more “belated” blogs about our travels.