A Serendipitous Morning Walk

A Serendipitous Morning Walk
I set out for a brisk walk this morning, heading up the Cape Dune Mole Rat trail. Short on time, I figured I’d manage just over an hour.

The climb to the hilltop, though steep, was delightful. Shaded and teeming with life, the path was lined with stunning native plants. Every step was an invitation to slow down – the sheer abundance of insects, birds, and fascinating plant life was overwhelming in the best way possible. Tiny antelope tracks dotted the trail, and the view of the lakes below was breathtaking.

Despite the scorching forecast, the early morning air held a pleasant coolness. As I neared the turnaround point, a rhythmic drumming caught my ear. Woodpeckers! I decided to linger a while.

To my surprise, there they were – three Knysna Woodpeckers. I hadn’t expected them in this area. The habitat was perfect, but it came after a long stretch of coastal dunes and fynbos. What a wonderful surprise!

Just a few days prior, I’d had the pleasure of watching them splashing in my garden birdbath. An equally delightful encounter.

Capturing them with my camera lens was another story entirely. Patience, however, proved to be my friend, and I managed a few decent shots.

My very first Knysna Woodpecker sighting remains etched in my memory. It was pure coincidence. Driving on a gravel road, I heard their screech and caught a fleeting glimpse of movement in a tree. Camera on my lap, I had mere seconds to switch to manual focus. Through a tangled mess of leaves and branches, I could only see the bird’s head – autofocus wouldn’t work. The next moment, it vanished. Back home, with a sigh of relief, I confirmed my suspicions on the computer screen. There it was, unmistakable – a Knysna Woodpecker!

But back to this morning’s walk. The spot was truly incredible. Butterflies like Dira clytus, the Cape autumn widow fluttered everywhere, and I almost missed a fascinating sight – a large moth capturing a smaller butterfly! Focused on getting a good shot of the woodpeckers, my eyes were scanning the treetops.

What an incredible morning! A short, unplanned walk turned into another beautiful encounter with nature.

Another joyful walk with BIRDWATCHER on the Garden Route of South Africa.

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