Cape Flowers and Feathered Friends
Bird-watching is an incredibly popular hobby nowadays even amongst young people. It adds so much value to your travels to ensure a richly satisfying experience. The Western Cape prides itself in its floral kingdom which is called, “Fynbos” (fine bush). Fynbos includes proteas of which the King Protea, also South Africa’s national flower, is the largest . These flowers are pollinated by birds, bees and insects. Photo by Ed Raubenheimer.
Cape sugarbirds love to feed on the sweet syrup of the proteas and the birds are endemic to this region. The males love to flaunt their stuff and during the breeding season (winter) they fly about in undulating flight, clapping their long tail feathers like streamers. Equally impressive, but to be distinguished, are the smaller, but noisy sunbirds with their beautiful jewel colours. The photo above, illustrates the difference in appearance of these two species; the sugarbird is on the left and lesser doublecollared sunbird on the right.
Sugarbirds, sunbirds and other species like canaries are seen not only in in places like The Helderberg Nature Reserve, which is 10 minutes away from Agape Apartments, but also in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Harold Porter (Bettie’s Bay, which is 30 min away) but often in suburbia. Other favourite birds like wagtails, acacia pied barbet, white eyes, waxbills, cape bulbuls and robins also occur in our garden.
There are two popular colonies of the endangered African Jackass penguins (it makes a noise like an ass); one is at Bettie’s Bay and the other at the beautiful Boulders Beach, in Simonstown.
Blue crane couple with two chicks: Photo by Cheryl Grobler.
The blue crane, which is South Africa’s national bird, is another endangered species. These birds fly with heads and necks outstretched and are quite vocal. They indulge in elaborate dancing displays with stretched wings when courting. The cranes are found in hilly grasslands (Overberg), farmlands, moist valleys and lakesides.
The Western Cape’s water birds include flamingoes and waders, some of which migrate here from Europe and other countries in summer over thousands of miles.
A dedicated program a few years ago saved the black oystercatchers from extinction. So now, when you visit the beaches like Strand (10 minutes away from Agape Apartments) and Blaauwberg, you will find them on the rocks, harvesting oysters of course. Look out for medium-sized black birds with longish red bills as well as red legs and toes. Along the shores there are seagulls, cormorants and a variety of terns. On the other hand, Serious twitchers get their thrills from going out to sea per boat on Pelagic trips in order to see seabirds like albatrosses!
The elusive Cape rockjumper only occurs in a narrow rocky and mountainous strip of the Western Cape. It often shares its habitat with the ground woodpecker. Furthermore, the skies are often graced by raptors like Verraux’s eagles, booted eagles, buzzards and yellow-billed kites, which can be observed from your patio at Agape Apartments. Or you may just be lucky and spot a magnificent male malachite sunbird! (Biodiversity Explorer).
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a must for any nature lover and a good place to start. Tip: If you don’t fancy walking, you can always hitch a ride on the golf-type carts for hire.
One never ceases to marvel at the wonders of nature and of the birds in South Africa!
Guest blog by Cheryl Grobler; a passionate nature-lover and bird-watcher, who offers accompanying tours with guests who wish to know more about South African bird-life and flowers. Cheryl is also a teacher of English and Afrikaans and can meet with you in the privacy of your apartment when staying at Agape or via Skype or Zoom. We would be delighted to put you in touch with her or arrange an accompanied tour for you when staying at Agape Apartments.
You are welcome to contact Cheryl directly:- firstname.lastname@example.org or on her Cell No.: +27 79 285 4478.