TBC at TNR
Early summer is surely the best time to visit the Tygerberg Nature Reserve as the days are warm, the migrant birds have arrived and some of the local species are still sporting their best plumage. The members, somewhat muted by masks, set off cheerfully to explore the Duiker Hiking Trail that led down to the Welgemoed dam.
The first item of interest was the nest of a Bar-throated Apalis that had built its tiny domed structure next to the path, and slightly more than knee high above the ground. At the first culvert the group admired the nest of a Southern Masked Weaver that had removed all of the leaves along the branch that was supporting the neatly woven construction.
The path followed a natural drainage line that enabled a mixture of tall vegetation to provide shelter for a number of species that included Cape Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush, Cape Bulbul, Southern Boubou and a group of chirpy Cape White-eyes. After passing through the second culvert and pausing under a substantial shady canopy the members were shown the various localities where the African Paradise-Flycatchers had built their nests during the past four seasons, and then shown the current season’s nest. This nest appeared to be damaged and there was no sign of the owners.
The open area surrounding the Welgemoed Dam provided fine sightings of both Yellow and Red Bishop, Fiscal Flycatcher and fleeting glimpses of Common Waxbills. The water birds on the dam were limited to a family of lazy Red-knobbed Coots, but the members’ spirits were raised with good sightings of calling Southern Boubou and a pair of Fork-tailed Drongos.
The long uphill clamber back to the entrance required some physical effort, but the march was punctuated with frequent stops to identify birds, but these stops were actually pauses to regain one’s breath. The picnic took place in the shady grove just inside the entrance gate and the bird list revealed a fine total of 48 seen along the relatively short circuit.
Four brave members were still keen to accompany Gerald and Deona on a walk along the Caracal Trail and the part of the Watsonia Trail to where the path leads down to the Grey Rhebok Trail. The target species were those that prefer the dry renosterveld such as Karoo Scrub Robin, Grey-backed Cisticola, Long-billed Crombec, White-throated Canary and Bokmakierie. Fine views of the Jackal Buzzard soaring overhead in the breeze were thoroughly enjoyed.
On the return journey, just before reaching the gate house, Esmarie Viviers (a visitor) put in some fancy footwork as she suddenly found a mole snake on the edge of the path, about half a meter from her feet. The snake retreated into the shelter of a bush and we managed to obtain great views of the loudly hissing coiled serpent.
The final tally of bird species had by now increased to 59 for the morning, which is really quite a good score for a relatively small area.