May22

African Black Oystercatcher

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The African black oystercatcher otherwise known as Haematopus Moquini.

This beautiful bird with its jet black plumage, orange circled eyes, legs and dagger- shaped beak has captured our attention during our walks here at the Bot River Mouth and various beaches of Hermanus, Western Cape.             DSC_0060                                                                                                                      The first thing that always draws our attention to their presence while walking on the beach is the cute   unmistakable squeaky-bath-toy sound they make while flying.

It is said the African black oyster catcher mates for life and pairs have been know to live up to 20 years. Wow,what an example of loyalty.                                                                                                             DSC_0064   DSC_0073

More interesting facts:

The birds that live on sandy shores eat sand mussels.

The estuarine birds eat cockles and pencil- bait.  

The birds start breeding at 3-4 years of age.                                                                                                                                 Both parents incubate the eggs which hatch after 32 days.  

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These birds have been observed to flock or form clubs during the non breeding season as a means of protection. from predators.                                                                                                              DSC_0601                                                                                                                                    Their natural predators are foxes, jackals,genets,snakes and gulls. Holiday makers and dogs are an additional threat. Thankfully beach driving has been banned.    

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The birds that live on rocky shores are said to feed on mainly mussels and limpets and fish not oysters.    

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This species is now listed as “Near Threatened”

Thanks to the Oystercatcher Conservation Programme initiated by the Percy Fitzpatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, the numbers are on the rise again.

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Bird lovers will enjoy observing these and many other species in their natural habitat frequenting Fisherhaven and the shores and cliff paths of Hermanus and surrounds.

May7

Casual walk from Grotto Beach to Sopiesklip

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Sopiesklip, a tourist attraction for visitors to Hermanus who enjoy exploring.

Curiosity got the better of us after hearing stories of a hollow in a rock with a carved doorway.

We parked our car, kicked off the shoes and began our walk along the sandy beach at Grotto beach.

Watching the birds flying above and frolicking in the waves as they washed the shore kept me mesmerized for most of the walk except for the few times I stopped to pick up an extraordinary shaped stone or shell.

The entire trip there and back took us approximately 3 hours.

The next time I do this trip along the beach, I will be wearing a comfortable pair of walking shoes and bringing along a ruck sack with water or juice.☺

Some of the interesting stories that happened here through the ages;

Sopiesklip was the halfway point along the coast for Gansbaaiers en route to Hermanus and it may have earned it’s name as the ideal place to rest and have something to drink ( ‘n sopie whisky’) before moving on. The soft beach sand must have made it a tiring and tough journey with the ox wagons. “In the footsteps of Lady Ann Barnard” written by Jose Burman

It has also been told that, “in the old days”, when the boats were still manned by rowing teams and sails, the strong winds and current would push the fishing boats into the middle of Walker bay and they would wash up at Sopiesklip.    Through the years the fishermen carved this hollow in the rock and stored glass bottles of brandy with ropes attached in the cave. A place to shelter from the cold wind, waves and have a nip of brandy to keep warm.

Mr Brian Macfarland( Senior) also has a story about an old German called Otto, a recluse, who used to go fishing on a thick – wheel bicycle. He got tired of going up to the rock outcrop and back to Hermanus so he stayed in the cave house which he named, “Die Paradys”

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DSC_0010     DSC_0025                                                    Oyster catchers and Kelp Gulls                                                                                                                                      image       image

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Rocky outcrop

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Beautiful rock formations…….natural artwork on the sand.

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I made it!

July29

Flock of Greater Flamingos spotted at Bot River Lagoon

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Greater Flamingo scientifically classified as ‘phoenicopterus roseus’

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They appear mostly white at rest.                                                                                                                                                   DSC_0658  DSC_0660

In flight you can clearly see the salmon- pink on the wings and the black flight feathers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DSC_0664  DSC_0665

This is the larger of the two African flamingos.They have very long legs and neck.

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The face and bill are pale pink with a black bill tip.                                                                                                                          DSC_0673  DSC_0685

What a pleasure to observe this beautiful flock enjoying new feeding grounds as the Bot River Lagoon fills up.

July19

Black Shouldered Kite

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My husband and I spotted this magnificient adult Black Shouldered Kite sitting on a telephone pole on our way to the Bot River Lagoon mouth with a dead rodent clutched firmly in its claws.

You can clearly see the grey and white feathers, distinctive black shoulder patches and striking red eyes with beautiful white tail.

This beautiful open- country raptor often perches on telephone poles and lines and hunts from these high up positions mainly for small diurnal rodents. It also hunts by hovering and then parachuting onto prey with wings forming a deep V

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What an awesome privilege and great opportunity we have to get close to nature and experience the wild endangered African Penguin – ‘Spheniscus demersus ‘

The sad reality that demands awareness; 

In September 2010, The African Penguin was added to the USA Endangered Species Act.

It has been said that of the millions that existed years later in 2010, the number was estimated to be around 55,000.

>Commercial Fisheries have forced the penguins to search for food farther off shore eating less nutritious prey.

>Global warming has also had an impact on the food source.

>Oil spills.

>Guano was removed for use as fertilizer, eliminating the burrow material used by the penguins.

>Up until recently, ( mid twentieth century) the eggs were considered a delicacy and being collected for sale.

This is the only penguin that breeds in Africa.

Stony Point, in Betty’s Bay Marine Protected Area is a rare land based breeding colony which was discovered in 1982.

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The board walk takes you through the colony so you can witness first hand how these magnificent creatures go about their daily activity;frolicking, fishing, diving, swimming,basking in the sun and doing what penguins do best.

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Take a jacket or wind breaker along when visiting.

Interesting Facts:

*The African Penguin is also known as the Black foot penguin or Jackass penguin because of its donkey- like braying call.

IMG_1539penguin(Illustration: Kate Boyes  Photo: Joan Ward)

*Size: Height = 65cm – males are slightly bigger than females

*Mass: 3.1kg – female  3.6kg – male

* Start breeding at 4 years old and lay two eggs.

*Food: pilchards, anchovies, herrings, sardines, squid and small crustaceans.

* Able to dive 130m but on average to 30m holding their breath for about 2,5 min.

*Lifespan: 10 to 11 years, many live as long as 20 years and the oldest known was 27 years

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*The feathers insulate penguins from the cold but deteriorate and need to be replaced annually.

At Stony Point they molt in November and December.

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*The average swimming speed is said to be 7 km per hour but I have heard hear say of them being able to reach 10 – 19 km per hour hunting or to escape danger.

Ready for a memorable walk ?

This is a worthwhile activity for all you nature lovers to add to your list of things to do on your trip into Hermanus.

The cliff path traces the coastline through spectacular, breath taking sea views through diverse fynbos vegetation and you will have the pleasant chance of encountering the coastal mammals and birds that occur along the Cliff path.

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DSC_0157 DSC_0159Cape Robin Chat

DSC_0162 DSC_0163Cape BulBulDSC_0079  DSC_0078Red- faced Mousebird

If you are planning to visit between June and December the whales will be waiting to greet you with a wave of a tail or a blast of air.  

Southern Right Whale

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Slap on the sun screen, put on a hat and comfortable walking shoes, a pair of binoculars, pack refreshments in your sling bag and come walk the Cliff path. Although the path is patrolled by security it is best not to walk alone or carry valuables with you. Be alert.

Below are a few scenes from our last trip with friends in June 2014  

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DSC_0237  DSC_0199Kelp Gull

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Be sure to ask for this beautiful pamphlet , ‘Hermanus Cliff Path’  at the Info Centre as it contains all the information you will need to plan your trip and more. The path can be accessed from different places so you can determine the length of your walk.

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Another trip with family in July 2015

DSC_0030 Whale watching boat on its way out to find the whales.                                  DSC_0104           IMG_2231Cliff2

Beautiful rock formations…

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which these beautiful rock rabbits call home.

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Memorial benches can be found along the way should you need to rest and enjoy the view.

Birding is a favourite pastime for both young and old, experienced or not.The best time to spot these beautiful, feathered friends is early in the morning when many water birds , waders and terrestrial species are on show at the Bot River Lagoon.

The Bot River Lagoon is incorporated into the Rooisand Nature Reserve which is part of the Kogelberg Biosphere, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Here in Fisherhaven near Hermanus, we have hiking trails  for birders near the Bot River Lagoon. The trails are marked by poles with white tops.

Black Shouldered Kite, Rock Kestrel, Greater Flamingos, Great White Pelicans, African Black Oystercatcher, Cape Cormorants, Grey Herons and thousands of Swift Terns amongst many others. Watch this space.

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Spotted in Hermanus and Surrounds:

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