What an interesting but very COLD day! The whole week we were concerned about the predicted bad weather, but we were determined to go out birding nonetheless. We managed an early start (5:30) and despite the cold wind and overcast conditions we saw some nice birds. With five vehicles attempting the rough Wolkberg terrain we were quickly onto species like Southern Black Flycatcher (SwartvlieŽvanger), the Orange-breasted Bushshrike (Oranjeborsboslaksman), Sombre Greenbul (Gewone Willie) and African Black Swift (Swartwindswael).
We had multiple stops on the day to enjoy many cups of coffees to fight away the cold weather. On our way to the top of the mountain we got good views of three young Black-backed Jackals (Rooijakkalse).
Lots of returning migrants were also spotted: African Paradise Flycatcher (Gewone ParadysvlieŽvanger), Diederik Cuckoo (Diederikkie), Red-chested Cuckoo (Piet-my-vrou) and Black Cuckoo (Swartkoekoek). On the higher sections of the route, where lots of Proteas occurred, we found species like Malachite Sunbird (Jangroentjie), Gurneyís Sugarbird (RooiborssuikervoŽl), Wailing Cisticola (Huiltinktinkie), Cape Canary (Kaapse Kanarie) and Long-billed Pipit (Nicholson Koester). Descending down the valley, the wind appeared to die down a bit and we got excellent views of a displaying male Greater Double-collared Sunbird (Groot-rooibandsuikerbekkie).
Our main goal for the day was to find a Tree Pipit (Boomkoester). Since I started atlassing in this area two years ago, this species was recorded on a regular basis. The species is a Palaearctic migrant and usually arrives from mid- to end-October. So, we were afraid that we might be a little early, but we were still hopeful to find it. After descending down the road and checking all the known spots, we came up empty handed. BUT Ö on our return trip on the same road, Loren spotted a bird that flushed from the short grass and alighted in a tree - and this was near one of its known spots. We quickly jumped out and I could confirm that it was a Tree Pipit, but it only showed itself for about 3 seconds before it disappeared. We were amazed to find one this early in the season and this bodes well for the summer.
Despite the poor weather conditions, it was a satisfying day with breathtaking views of this beautiful area. Thanks to everyone who participated.