And then there was Eloise…

The Birds and Flowers field trip led by Susan Abell and Geoff Lockwood was a great success, but the second day had to be cancelled owing to heavy rain.

By James van den Heever

Orchid hunting at the stream below the waterfall (Photograph: Cora Hoexter)

The two-day field trip focusing on birds and flowers repeated the successful trip in December 2019. It took place on 23 and 24 January 2021—or was scheduled to do so but the second day had to be cancelled owing to heavy rain.

Two days before the trip was due to take place, we began receiving reports of a hurricane approaching the coast from the Mozambique channel, with predictions that it would reach the escarpment region by Sunday. On Saturday when we set off, though, it was already rather windy with lots of cloud about. The wind was actually welcome as it cooled things down and made walking more pleasant.

Saturday was designated as a focus on flowers and we basically covered the tourist route, with frequent stops to look at various sites determined on Friday when Susan and Geoff did a recce. The first and lengthiest stop was at the waterfall where we spent a lot of time and then walked back to the cars via the sugar bushes. See our previous article on the proteas of Verloren Valei.

Disperis wealei (Photograph: Phillip Niewoudt)
Schizochilus cecilii (Photograph: Phillip Niewoudt)

Susan has provided an extensive list of the orchids and flowers seen in the attachment. For me, the prolific colonies of Satyrium longicauda var longicauda were a real highlight. Read the full list of flowers seen.

Of course, with Geoff in the party, we also did a fair amount of birding, with good sightings of Gurney’s Sugarbird, Cape Vultures, Denham’s Bustard and Yellow-breasted Pipit. It was also great to get excellent views of Verloren Valei’s “resident” Blue Cranes and to hear their distinctive calls.

See our previous article on cranes.

Read the full list of birds seen.

Blue cranes (Photograph: Geoff Lockwood)
Yellow-breasted Pipit (Photograph: Geoff Lockwood)

It was a great pity we could not get out on the Sunday to focus on the birds in a different part of the Reserve, but hopefully it won’t be too long before we are all able to get back to there. As always, it was a privilege to be at Verloren Valei in the company of two enthusiastic and expert guides.  

One of the Reserve’s—and South Africa’s—most spectacular butterflies, the Table Mountain Beauty was also spotted (Photograph: Phillip Niewoudt)

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