Trip report: Birders in the Mist: Rooiels, Harold Porter Botanical Gardens and Stony Point 

This report was provided by Jill Wheater.

Saturday dawned grey, damp and extremely misty. Optimistic that the weather would soon clear, eleven intrepid birders drove enthusiastically to Rooiels, the spot of the vulnerable Cape Rockjumper population. Having parked and consumed a hot beverage convincing ourselves that it really wasn’t that wet and cold, we donned additional jerseys and raincoats and headed into the mist. Honestly, were we really going to see anything?

In less than fifteen minutes the first Cape Rockjumper was spotted! What excitement and seriously what a surprise! We went from strength to strength as the next hour was spent watching a few Rockjumpers flit from rock to rock, hide in the vegetation and then pop back. They were often quite close, and the big lens carriers were very busy taking great photos. The Rockjumper was accompanied by a couple of Ground Woodpeckers – this was a first for a few of us – and great to see both Woodpecker and Rockjumper on the same rock.

The mist lifted … and came back … but we were so fortunate with these special sightings. The raptors were missing but there were plenty of Orange-breasted Sunbirds, Chats, Gulls, Starlings and Cape Grassbirds, to name a few.

The vegetation was magnificent; the vibrancy of colour heightened by the weather conditions and the fynbos in perfect form.

After three hours we returned to our cars, thoroughly chilled and very grateful for such magnificent birding. Hot tea and sandwiches sorted out the circulation and we headed off to Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. The light was now much better, and the gardens were just full of life; we could hardly go a step without someone spotting another bird. 

The Cape Bulbuls were everywhere and again we were treated to several more unusual sightings. Swee Waxbills, a Streaky-headed Seedeater, a Southern Boubou, Cape Grassbirds, a Black Saw-wing, a distant Klaas’s Cuckoo, an African Dusky Flycatcher and for the lucky ones, a Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher. A walk to the waterfall, in full flood and magnificent to see, just added to the enjoyment of the day. 

We could easily have spent hours there, but day was still not over. A short drive to Stony Point to see the penguins… well actually they were just a bonus, we were there to see Cormorants. White-breasted, Crowned and Bank Cormorants were in abundance, nesting in the rocks, feeding young and showing their beautiful plumage. On the shoreline were African Oystercatchers, Water Thick-knee, and of course African penguins. The light was now sharp and clear, and the Bank Cormorants were posing for the cameras. 

With a final tally of sixty-one species, it was a great number considering the start of the day was shrouded in thick mist.

From sheer mountain to indigenous gardens to spectacular coastline in the space of a few kilometres, reminded me of how fortunate we are to have such diversity on our doorstep.

Many thanks to Johan for his impeccable organisation as always and from the novice birders in the group, many thanks to the experienced birders who patiently guided, explained, and spotted! A truly rewarding birding outing. 

1 thought on “Trip report: Birders in the Mist: Rooiels, Harold Porter Botanical Gardens and Stony Point ”

  1. Hi there Jill and Johan thanks for your troubles to deliver this report! Brief! Professional! Full of excitement and energy! Awesome

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