20 September 2023

Mountain air

27 June 2023 - Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge; Day 2

We had a mid-week timeshare break at the fabulous Crystal Springs which is found at the top of Robbers Pass on historic old road to Pilgrim's Rest. We arrived late yesterday and after unpacking did a little orientation before having a meal in the restaurant.

I was up early this morning for a walk in the area around our chalet just after sunrise. As it is a mountainous area, it took some time before the sun hit the valley where our chalet was situated which had a great view itself.

I love the layers in this early morning landscape image - textured B&W or blue-hour colour, I'm not sure which does it more justice


Mountain Scape

Walking quietly, I came across a Grey or Common Duiker that had just started feeding after a crisp night

Common Duiker (Sylvicapra grimmia)

Followed by a Kudu slowly coming out of cover

Young Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros)

As it warmed up, a herd of Blue Wildebeest made an appearance

Blue Wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus)

It took some time for birds to become active, but the first one was a Nicholson's Pipit (previously called Long-billed) in the pre-dawn light

Nicholson's Pipit (Anthus nicholsoni)

In the rocky outcrop close to our chalet, a pair of Lazy Cisticola's provided some entertainment

Lazy Cisticola (Cisticola aberrans)

Together with a few Greater Double-collared Sunbird's amongst the other Sunbird species

Male Greater Double-collared Sunbird (Cinnyris afer)

Once the sun hit the valley birding picked up and I found Kurrichane Thrush feeding on the lawns around the chalets

Kurrichane Thrush (Turdus libonyanus)

Nicholson's were more active and it was interesting to note how subtle the plumage change is between shade and direct sunlight

Nicholson's Pipit (Anthus nicholsoni)

In the grassland, a few Cape Longclaw

Cape Longclaw (Macronyx capensis)

We then enjoyed a leisurely family breakfast before taking a drive and then a stroll around the historic little mining town of Pilgrims Rest. Later in the afternoon, I had a walk close to the main entrance where I had seen a few species on the drive in. There were African Stonechat

Female African Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus)

A few Familiar Chat's

Familiar Chat (Oenanthe familiaris)

As well as a pair of Cape Rock Thrush - but only the female was obliging

Female Cape Rock Thrush (Monticola rupestris)

And a single Southern Boubou

Southern Boubou (Laniarius ferrugineus)

However, my interest was in the obliging Buff-streaked Chats that provided some fantastic photo opportunities - more so the male who was a real poser, but possibly in the early stage of courtship

Male Buff-streaked Chat (Campicoloides bifasciata)

than the female.

Female Buff-streaked Chat (Campicoloides bifasciata)

When I arrived at our chalet, there were a few White-eyes in the trees, this the virens sub-species

Cape White-eye (Zosterops virens)

Along with a Bar-throated Apalis that proved to be quite challenging to get onto, but then suddenly it flew out of cover and hovered on the outside of the tree to seemingly look where next to go and feed - great opportunity

Yellow-breasted Apalis (Apalis flavida)

Before sunset, we took a drive toward the nature reserve section of the Lodge grounds - it took some time, as the road was pretty rough. I did stop for a Black-crowned Tchagra in late afternoon light

Black-crowned Tchagra (Tchagra senegalus)

Followed by a male Cape Rock Thrush

Male Cape Rock Thrush (Monticola rupestris)

It was then time to light the fire and enjoy a few sundowners whilst watching another fiery African sunset and feeling the temperature drop rapidly.. 

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