August 10 – Ceres to Cape Town

We got to sleep in this morning and didn’t meet for breakfast until 7AM. After all, we only needed to drive a couple of hours to Cape Town to end the tour at the airport.

There was, however, one tough little bird we’d try to find on the way. This was the Protea Canary that we’d failed to find yesterday. This canary is not a skulker, but can be very difficult to find and has only been seen on 10% of the Rockjumper tours at this time of year. We were all excited for this last search and, in order to maximize our time in mountainous Protea habitat, we took a longer route over Du Toitskloof Pass, instead of taking an impressive 5km tunnel straight through the mountain. At the first stop Andre played the canary’s song and a bird popped right out! What the heck? That was easy… We had beautiful views of this visually unremarkable, but significant bird for us: it would be our last new bird of the trip.

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The gang on Du Toitskloof Pass after our last new bird © James Palmer

Having left ample time to search for the canary, which was no longer needed, we were able to step out at a couple of view points to properly appreciate the incredible expanse in front us, especially as we perched on the mountain overlooking the town of Paarl.

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Looking back in the general direction of Ceres © James Palmer
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Overlooking Paarl © James Palmer

On our way back to Cape Town airport, we adamantly counted as many birds as possible. It still amazes me that one can count nearly 50 species in a 2-hour drive in this country in the middle of winter! We also had our best views of the trip of 4 Giant Kingfisher at a dam near Cape Town and even saw a pair of Glossy Ibis (we’d only seen them on day two of the trip)!

When we arrived at the airport, we said some truly heartfelt goodbyes. I am really going to miss these people. You become a strange kind of family when you’re on a mission to experience as much of your shared passion as possible in a tiny timeframe every day for 3 weeks,  and we certainly became friends. I’m not sure if any of my fellow travelers will be reading this, but if you are: I sincerely wish you the best and hope that our paths cross again in the future!

From the airport, off I went on a bum-clenching, rally-car-like cab ride to the Camps Bay area of Cape Town. For the next few days, I’m on my own in Cape Town, staying at a place called Bateleurs Rontree. It was an accident that I ended up at place named after a breathtaking South African raptor and staying in the Sea Gull room. At least, I think it was an accident.

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Even in my hotel room, the birding never stops © James Palmer
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The view of Camps Bay and the Atlantic Ocean from my room at Bateleurs Rontree © James Palmer
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Time to sit down with a good book… © James Palmer

I was impressed to find lots of gluten free food at a nearby grocery store and stocked up to fuel my hiking for the next couple of days. This afternoon though, I debriefed a bit with my Birds of South Africa book and flipped on a TV for the first time in 3 weeks to watch some of the Olympics.

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Gluten free goodies! The “rusks” are a South African staple snack © James Palmer

Now, to try to catch eight hours or more of sleep for the first time this trip…

 

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