Monday, 20 October 2014

A Trip to South Africa - Part 1

Well it's been a while since I posted, but that's because we have been away in South Africa. We flew down to Joburg from Manchester via Dubai then caught the Premier Class train to Cape Town, which was brilliant.  A 26 hour journey through some great countryside, not to mention the wildlife seen from the train and also the fabulous food (too much!!). We were really looked after. One thing I did discover is that trying to photograph birds from a moving train doesn't result in great photographs, so I will miss those out!

We did see a good number of birds from the train and a few Antelope (Bok) so that started our trip off nicely. We were picked up from the station by Tina's brother Mike, who lives in Glencairn just south of Cape Town and we headed home with him to spend the next couple of nights. We didn't do any birding whilst there, but of course being in a different country the garden birds are going to be different.
Cape Weaver:
 Common Fiscal (Shrike):
 Cape White-eye:
The Common Fiscal (Or Southern Fiscal) was probably one of the most common birds around along with the White Eye. The Cape Weaver isn't so much a garden bird, but Mike has a colony near by, so as it was spring, they were always foraging for nesting material to do this:
This is the Weaver site just 10 minutes walk from Mike's house.
Just a few minutes walking further from here an you are on the coast where the local birds are mostly Hartlaub's Gull, Kelp Gull and Cape Cormorant.
Hartlaub's Gull:

I'll add some Kelp Gull and Cape Cormorant pics in later posts.
Whilst touring around locally we came across this Karoo Prinia, near Simon's Town,
whilst looking at the view:
So after a couple of days with Mike, we 'stole' his car and headed off towards Port Elizabeth, where we were going to spend 4 nights at the Amakhala Game Reserve a mere 950Km away the route we were taking. Our first real stop was for a late lunch at the old dutch colonial town of Matjiesfontein. As usual I don't go anywhere without the camera so was lucky with a couple of birds whilst we ate:
White-backed Mousebird:
 Cape Robin-chat:
 Olive Thrush:
The town itself was very interesting and a throw back in time:
Our next scheduled stop was Prince Albert, where we were staying the night, not before picking up a few more birds (I ought to be careful how I phrase that!) en route, whilst we stopped for coffee, yes the flasks came with us!
Cape Sparrow:
 Cape Canary:
 Pied Crow:

I have to say that in Prince Albert, I had probably the best Seafood Pizza I have ever had, it was awesome! (this was in the pub opposite our B&B!). So after a hearty breakfast and a few more snaps whilst eating on the patio;
White-backed Mousebird:
 Laughing Dove:
 Cape Wagtail:
We set off through the Swartberg Pass and headed south, the scenery and road were amazing, of course this added a fair bit of time onto our journey, but it was well worth it!

We eventually arrived at Amakhala just before dark, sadly that means we missed our first game drive, but we had another 7 to look forward to!

The next post will just be our time at Amakhala, so loads of Birds and loads of our Four Legged Friends too!

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