Our attempt to leave Wildcliff on Wednesday was thwarted by a usually subdued stream swollen to a raging torrent by 80mm of rain on Tuesday that kept us indoors all day. Our rendezvous with Chris in George was just not going to happen. Later that day we learnt of an ambulance swept off a road by high waters near Montagu, for which the search for the missing driver is still going on as of today.
On Thursday Chris came through in the Landcruiser to pick up Matt who had been assigned house-sitting duties, while I managed to get out on foot to survey for the first time in 4 days. It was a lovely day, which included records of Red-winged Francolin, and quality views of the resident pair of Peregrine Falcon. In addition, I had several records of Protea Seedeater, which made me wonder why I was suddenly picking them up now in winter in the Langeberg – as I’d had them on Sunday on the Garcia Pass too.
Friday I surveyed out from Wildcliff, over the Langeberg via the Gysmanshoek Pass, as the road to Heidelberg was still cut off by risen waters of the Duiwenhoks River. I reached Swellendam again in lovely weather, and briefly popped into Bontebok National Park to see if I could complete my survey there by bicycle – and indeed one is able to explore Bontebok by bicycle. Meanwhile, the Canola Karnaval was enjoying a day of sunshine resulting in traffic havoc. Perhaps, like me, people had checked the weather report and realised that would be the only day to make the most of the stalls, shows and talent contests – as again Friday night the rain set in with strong winds, lasting most of Saturday. The Canola festival is held at this time of year as the fields of the Overberg are bright yellow with canola flowers.
I still ventured into Bontebok (not by bicycle) to brave swollen stream crossings, to complete a couple of points, which again were very productive as the birds were making the most of any break in the weather to snatch a meal – with much use of prolifically flowering Aloe ferox. But my views of Agt-huurkop of Marloth Nature Reserve were of mist, snow and cascading streams. Since there are no Olympic medals on offer for daring attempts of dangerous mountains to count birds, there was no incentive to risk my life, so it looked like another route that would need to be postponed, as Grootvadersbos a few days earlier.
The reward for the day was my second sighting ever of a Caracal. Perhaps the poor thing was trying to avoid the inundations around us, or was out hunting after a washed out night. It trotted down the road for a while as I followed cautiously, but on attempting to close the gap for a closer view, the cat slunk off the road and vanished into the Renosterveld. Still – my first wild Caracal photo.
Despite a grey and cold start to the day, today turned out all right. I managed 2 survey lines near Bredasdorp and along the ‘Fynbos Road’ to Elim. This flat section of the Agulhas Plain was very inundated, and there were several flooded low bridges to cross. The birds were enjoying it, with Long-billed Lark calling until late in the afternoon, and many water birds enjoying the lakes, including a pan with perhaps 500 Greater Flamingo.
Thankfully, the next two days forecast look acceptable, but it looks like I’ll have to seek shelter again on Thursday if I wish to stay dry.
|Three Blue Cranes in the Overberg|
|A view of Marloth Nature Reserve from Bontebok|
|Same view, with a Bontebok|
|Yay! My first Caracal photo. Poor wet moggy.|
|Sacred Ibis and Cattle Egrets were among the birds enjoying the flooded landscape.|
|A ray of sunshine lights up a Canola field and windmill, while rain clouds lurk behind.|
|A female Orange-breasted Sunbird feeds on Erica c coccinea at Wildcliff|
|Small mountain streams are now raging torrents - a bit dangerous for the surveys I have to hike.|