11 September 2011 – Jewel of the Overberg (Day 2)
We were up early this morning and made our way across to the vlei in the hope of trying to catch up with the Otters again. For a change, there was a bit of sunshine, but luck was not to be on our side and we once again just missed out on the Otters. Seems they decided to be out even earlier this morning and all we found was evidence that they had passed through the area very recently! So, another one that we still have to continue targeting for the challenge list.
Nevertheless, not all was lost as we enjoyed the myriad of waterbirds on the vlei. Great White Pelicans, herons and ibises cruised past us, various cormorants, grebes and other waterfowl were very active and we even got the opportunity to watch a Black Sparrowhawk chase down a Blacksmith Lapwing wheeling all over the sky and eventually catch it and head off to devour it on the opposite shore. Spring has certainly arrived and, as we sat on the edge of the vlei enjoying a cup of coffee and trying to make use of some of the photographic opportunities that presented themselves, numbers of hirundines including Greater Striped and White-throated Swallows, Brown-throated Martins and Black Saw-wings continually whizzed by overhead.
The bush around the vlei was also extremely active and we eventually managed to get our first photos of Southern Tchagra for the challenge – the individual was hardly forthcoming and kept sitting in the middle of the bushes which made trying to get decent photos quite difficult.
By this time, it had started to warm up a little, so we headed off to the Koppie Alleen area again in the hope of possibly finding a Southern Adder. We knew that we were in the right area because there were obvious signs… not the kind of telltale signs that trackers read when they are in the bush but actual signs! Well done to Tony Phelps on starting this initiative in the reserve!
We cruised slowly up and down the road, walked stretches along the road and then walked off along a side track as well turning over every available rock that we could find and searching near the bases of all the bushes. No luck! It was a small consolation knowing that Tony Phelps, who had been there for a week already, had still not managed to find one either. Oh well, it’s another good excuse to return to De Hoop sometime in the near future. What we were able to find was good numbers of scorpions and one tiny Ocellated Thick-toed Gecko whilst the heat had already made the Red-sided Skinks and Knox’s Desert Lizards quite active and very difficult to catch.
Eventually, we had to call it a day as we still had a fairly long drive back home, so after grabbing a bite to eat back at the chalet and then saying our good-byes to Tony, we hit the road for a nice relaxed drive back through the Overberg farmlands enjoying the large numbers of Blue Cranes en route home to begin preparations for the start of yet another working week…