CHECK­LIST 10 spe­cials to try and spot at The Cav­ern

South African Country Life - - Birding Hotspot -

1. The Cape Rock-Thrush (Kaapse Kli­plyster) is en­demic to South Africa in the moun­tains of the east and south. It sings from prom­i­nent rocks and for­ages on the ground nearby.

2. Another en­demic is the Swee Wax­bill (Suide­like Swie). This tiny gem is al­ways found in pairs, al­though pairs may as­so­ciate into flocks in win­ter. Typ­i­cal habi­tat is a wa­ter­course or for­est edge with seed­ing grasses.

3. Another species found in this habi­tat is the polyg­a­mous Yel­low Bishop (Kaapse Flap). Breed­ing males are jet black with yel­low flashes, but lose their fin­ery in win­ter. Fe­males closely re­sem­ble all the other widows and bish­ops.

4. The South­ern Boubou (Suide­like Water­fiskaal) is an en­demic largely con­fined to forests and heav­ily wooded habi­tats. But like many other so-called spe­cial­ists it is equally at home in The Cav­ern gar­den. It has a won­der­ful range of whis­tled calls, and a ter­ri­to­rial pair of­ten con­ducts a duet.

5. Another for­est dweller is the African OlivePi­geon (Geel­bek­bos­duif). It is a semi-no­madic fruit-eater that moves be­tween forests ac­cord­ing to food abun­dance. Nor­mally shy, it flocks to the big wild peach shad­ing the lower bal­cony when it fruits in mid-sum­mer.

6. A re­peated yelp­ing call re­veals a Red-throated

Wry­neck (Draai­hals), a wide­spread but never com­mon bird of wooded ar­eas. It is tech­ni­cally a wood­pecker but, un­like other wood­peck­ers, it can­not cre­ate cav­i­ties such as those in fence posts near the bowl­ing green.

7. Orig­i­nally a bird of moun­tain ledges is the Red­winged

Star­ling (Rooivlerk­spreeu) and per­haps 100 pairs live near the ho­tel. They are om­niv­o­rous – fruit in win­ter, al­most any­thing in sum­mer, in­clud­ing tough and un­tasty mil­li­pedes.

8. The Ar­row-marked Bab­bler (Pylvle kkat­lagter) is usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with drier coun­try fur­ther north. It’s a co-op­er­a­tive breeder and for­ager and, when on pa­trol, each bird in the group takes turn as sen­try.

9. Six species of swal­lows can be seen, but by far the most abun­dant is the Greater Striped

Swal­low (Groot­stre ep­swael), a trop­i­cal mi­grant that breeds here in spring.

10. The Amur Falcon (Ooste­like Rooipoot­valk) from Siberia un­der­goes the long­est mi­gra­tion of our birds. It perches on wires and fences, look­ing for small prey on the ground.

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