Thursday, 20 June 2013

Overberg blues..

The trouble with Cape Town, in June, is two-fold. The weather is typically like ol' Auntie May; grey, wet & miserable. The second problem, quite candidly, is difficult to explain and usually manifests whenever we go back-to-the-future & return home, to the 21st century, in Johannesburg.. Our bathroom-scale takes on a will of its own & spews forth a string of deceptively-cruel untruths! It's a rather repetitive & somewhat annoying technical glitch, obviously.

Any suggestion that our "burgeoning weight" originated at one of Cape Town's many world-class fine-dining tables, during the many hours spent wiling away the cold-winter blues, is patently absurd!

Booked on a scheduled pelagic cruise with the Zest-crowd in early June we packed the thermals, ear-muffs, our 'like-um-uh-wow' -phrase-book & flew south. As these things go our timing couldn't have been more spectacular had we rubbed Aladdin's lamp & wished for the weather-gods to do their worst.

Friday the 7th of June - fair play; fine weather & some sunshine. 'Let's buy tickets for the City Sighting hop-on, hop-off bus; sit up top under clear skies and take in some of the history Cape Town is renown for & which very few South Africans know much about..'

Saturday, 8th of June - A severe cold front moved in overnight; 'so sorry the pelagic trip is postponed to tomorrow; weather permitting.'

Sunday, 9th of June - The cold front a squib of yesterday's worst; skies brilliantly blue. 'Like shame! Did you really have to catch an early flight back for a family function?'

Typically 'Overberg'
Overberg [bottom]  - Cape Town [top]
Large-billed Lark

Handed the verdict late Friday evening, one empty past happy hour, our only option was to try further afield for one or two stragglers we'd yet to add to our list.

When we first embarked on our 800-odyssey, given time constraints & the other obstacles we all find the need to burden ourselves with, much of the time we could allocate for short trips in and around the country would be limited to weekends. Apropos Cape Town, in particular, our intentions were to join a scheduled pelagic cruise on a Saturday and spend Sunday at one of many different spots for localised species further inland.

Agulhas Long-billed Lark
We had two options for the Saturday, given that the pelagic cruise had been postponed. We could travel to the town of Ceres for a single species or to the equally distant Overberg region, near Swellendam, also for a single species. Include the 'Agulhas Clapper Lark' [Mirafra apiata marjoriae] still considered a subsp of Cape Clapper Lark & that would make two for the region. We opted for the Overberg on the principle that more is better.
Last hand-driven pont in the country - Malgas
A simple meal in one of many Swellendam 'eateries' is worth the effort
Getting to & from the Overberg is hardly a hop, skip & a jump. It's a distant 2-3 hours by road. That said, the Southern Cape region is truly spectacular. Winter rainfall ensures a green-carpeted vista domestic visitors are unaccustomed to in the winter. The little hamlets too, at various spots along the route, are worth the price of admission alone.

Opt for the last hand-driven river-pont in the country over the Breede River at Malgas & you would have enjoyed a slice of history far too rare, too slow, too inconvenient & too quiet ...

In the right areas the targeted birds are readily found. In fact you'd be forgiven for thinking the whole affair somewhat anti-climactic. That said, 'u goes where u must & u do's what u must.'

You haven't like lived 'till you've been to the Southern Cape & if finding the Agulhas specials is the excuse to go; use it.

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