CHECKLIST 10 specials to try and spot at The Cavern
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.