27 September 2009

Rockjumpin' on the Cape Coast...(South Africa): September 27, 2009

A more relaxed day around the Western Cape again today, although with some big, big highlights. A visit to Rooi Els (see photo) was our starting point. Spectacular rocky outcrops, dusted with burnt orange lichens, form the edge of the Hottentot Mountains here, that plunge down dramatically into the Atlantic Ocean in the sheltered cove of False Bay.

Our main goal here, was to get one of the most highly desired of all the Cape specialties: the striking Cape Rockjumper. Scrambling around rocks is one way to get this one, although we opted for an easier course, walking the flat, rocky coastal track, and scanning up towards the cliffs on the landward side of the trail. A chilly, windy day greeted us, making life a little hard, although a pair of eye-catching
Verreaux's Eagles skirting the cliffs above was a more than welcome distraction. After an hour or so, we picked up some movement on the lichen-covered ashy-grey rocks uplsope, and after training our 'scopes, came upon the rich chestnut underside, soooty black chin, and gleaming white moustache of a beautiful male Cape Rockjumper (see photos), looking sprightly and alert on a small outcrop. This wonderful bird is one of two members of the rockjumper family, that is endemic to Africa. A White-chinned Petrel trying to slip by just off the headland was a surprise bonus, although a male Cape Rock Thrush (steadfastly refusing to perch in good, photographable light) was more expected in this area. In the afternoon, after stopping in at a local sewage farm (birders are drawn to such great places!), we headed out to Simonstown for some penguin action...see next post.

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