Forest Buzzards and Ericas

The sun barely peeked over the Outeniqua Mountains, casting long shadows across the valley below. It was a slow drive, the kind where the world melts away and your thoughts unfurl like the ribbon of asphalt stretching before you. This wasn’t your typical tourist route, but a hidden gem, a road less travelled. Here, the crystal-clear stream, untouched by drought, gurgled merrily, its music the only soundtrack to the unfolding scene.

Leaving the car behind, I ventured down a barely discernible path, each step a silent promise not to disturb the symphony of nature playing around me. Suddenly, the air split with a piercing cry, a screech that sent shivers down my spine. It was the Forest Buzzard, its call echoing through the valley like a predator’s declaration. My eyes darted skyward, searching for the feathered silhouette against the vast canvas of blue. Then, there it was, soaring majestically overhead, its broad wings slicing through the air.

But the show wasn’t over. Another raptor, the Jackal Buzzard, materialized like a phantom, its slightly larger frame casting an imposing shadow. Unlike its companion, it swooped down with a burst of speed, perching atop a lone pine tree across the river, its sharp gaze seemingly fixed on something unseen. The Forest Buzzard, as if responding to the challenge, let out another cry before disappearing behind the verdant curtain of trees.

This hidden haven was more than just a scenic escape; it was a haven for a vibrant tapestry of life. Each visit, like turning a page in a captivating story, revealed new chapters in nature’s grand narrative. Spring and early summer brought the Black Saw-wings, their nests tucked away in the rocky crevices across the stream. Damselflies, their bodies shimmering like sapphires, danced on the water’s surface, while playful drongos and other birds chased each other through the branches. The symphony wasn’t limited to sight, the chorus of Cape River frogs filled the air, their rhythmic croaking adding another layer to the mesmerizing soundscape.

As I retraced my steps, the fynbos, adorned with heaths and ericas, painted the landscape in a kaleidoscope of colours. Birdwatching, I realized, wasn’t just a hobby; it was a portal to a world brimming with wonder, a world that unveiled itself piece by piece with each patient observation. It was a journey of discovery, not just for me, but for anyone willing to embrace the stillness and listen to the whispers of the wild. It was the perfect activity, a bridge connecting us to the intricate tapestry of nature, a bridge that families and children could eagerly cross, hand in hand with a knowledgeable guide. And here, on the Garden Route, nestled amidst the majesty of the Western Cape, the world of birds awaited, ready to unfold its secrets to those who dared to listen.


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