Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Kleinmond.

The last of the 4 sea-side villages along the R44 , after Betty’s Bay, is Kleinmod which lies on a lagoon at the small mouth – hence the name – of the Botriver on a narrow strip of land hugged on the one side by the Palmiet Mountain range and on the other by the Atlantic Ocean.  Despite its beauty and relative peacefulness, Kleinmond is the largest of the four coastal towns  and as such, serves as a commercial centre for the Hangklip-Kleinmond area. Traditionally a retirement village, the town comes alive during holiday season and is renowned for large numbers of crayfish (lobster) in summer and whale watching in winter.

As with the others it is also part of the UNESCO declared Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. Kleinmond lies at the mouth of the Bot River Vlei, an important wetland, which has become home to a herd of feral horses that have adapted to life in the marshy conditions. They are occasionally spotted by visitors on walks or canoe trips in the estuary. All four villages are  famous for the annual visits of the Southern Right Whales and have a wide variety of bird life.

Just before you get to Kleinmond you cross over the Palmiet River. You can experience the river during both the low summer months and in winter when this friendly stream becomes a torrent of class 3+ white water. There are tour operators in the area and people with their own kayaks can explore the Palmiet and Bot Rivers lagoons,estuaries and vleis.

Harbour Road is the place to be.  There are wonderful small shops to explore, awesome galleries and craft stores and the seafood restaurants serve the freshest fish in town.

The
The Fishing Cat

The
Sunshine Trading.

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“Deliciously Different” looked like one of the more popular eating spots.

If you are into Sushi this is the place tp be.
If you are into Sushi this is the place tp be.

The shops and restaurants are situated just above the small harbour. There was quite a big sea running and I was fascinated by the foam caused by the sea action against the rocks.
The shops and restaurants are situated just above the small harbour. There was quite a big sea running and I was fascinated by the foam caused by the sea action against the rocks.

The house come in all shapes and sizes but I rather fancied this one which over looks the main beach and lagoon.
The houses come in all shapes and sizes but I rather fancied this one  overlooking the beach and lagoon.

Main Beach in Kleinmond.
Main Beach in Kleinmond.

The beach here, although not great for swimming, is perfect for fishing.
The beach here, although not great for swimming, is perfect for fishing.

The safe, cool waters of the lagoon.
The safe, cool waters of the lagoon which is next to the main beach.

Fishing from the rocks while the family enjoy themselves at the beach about 50 meters away.

Fishing from the rocks while the family enjoy themselves at the beach about 50 meters away.

There are also 2 caravan parks in the area, one at Palmiet River and the other just as one leaves the town on the left hand side. To be honest I would love to have spent more time (and money) in the area but I found their prices and new high season dates to be totally ridiculous. I know for a fact that sites at both parks were charged out at R75 per day last year are now charged at R240 plus R30 for electricity. That is crazy and I really hope that the municipality come to it’s senses soon as they, and the surrounding towns, are loosing a lot of tourist money.

The Arabella

The Arabella Country Estate

A few km’s outside of Kleinmond is the Arabella Country Estate which overlooks the largest natural lagoon in South Africa. Situated just 20 minutes away from Hermanus it has a variety of dining and entertainment options and the award winning 18 hole championship golf course which is rated as one of the best courses in the Western Cape.

Port Owen and Laaiplek

The Port Owen Marina, an upmarket retirement and holiday development, lies on the Berg River between Velddrif and Laaiplek. The marina was established on a vlei and a network of canals were built to give boats access to both river and sea. The marina also includes Admiral Island which can only be accessed over a linking bridge via a security entrance.

Many owners of the upmarket villas have their own yachts and this has ensured modern and safe moorings, a harbour and a slipway with a hoist capable of lifting boats of up to 10 tons out of the water.

One of the many large houses at Port Owen.
One of the many large houses at Port Owen.
You can step out of your house and straight on to your yacht.
You can step out of your house and straight on to your yacht or motor boat.
Spotted this friendly duck who didn't need a boat to navigate the canals.
Spotted this friendly duck who didn’t need a boat to navigate the canals.

One of the complexes at Port Owen.
One of the housing complexes at Port Owen.
This man was helping with dredging of the canals.
Working on the dredging of the canals.
The security entrance to Admiral Island.
The security entrance to Admiral Island.
Admiral Island in the midle surrounded by the Port Owen Marina.
Admiral Island in the middle surrounded by the Port Owen Marina.

Charter boat for birding trips on the river.

Charter boat for birding trips on the river.

Late afternoon there are boat trips along the river and many water birds can be seen in the reeds. The area is especially famous for its Pelicans.

Heading west out of Port Owen you soon arrive in Laaiplek. The town was bought by a Carl Stephan from Theunis Smit and was originally known as Rooibaai (Red Bay) apparently for the beautiful red hues reflected in the bay by the setting sun.

Laai is Afrikaans for load  and the town takes its name from the point on the river where boats were loaded and offloaded of their goods. It is situated where the Berg River  enters the Atlantic Ocean and it is from here that the larger fishing boats leave to trawl the ocean  and return with tonnes of fish for processing in the local fish factories.

Fishing boat at Laaiplek.
Fishing boats at Laaiplek.
If this was a house for sale they would call it a "fixer upper".
If this was a house for sale they would call it a “fixer upper”.

Restaurant right on the beach.
Restaurant right on the beach.
Gave myself a treat and bought some grilled fish here. It was delicious.
Gave myself a treat and bought some grilled fish here. It was delicious.
Fascinating shop on one of the side streets.
Fascinating shop on one of the side streets.
Entrance to Stywelyne Caravan Park in Laaiplek.
Entrance to Stywelyne Caravan Park in Laaiplek.

Went and had a look at the caravan park and it was not too bad. Still I am glad I stayed at Dwarskersbos.

This stretch of coast offers spectacular boat and land based whale watching and each spring Southern Right Whales put on a great show of breaching, lob-tailing and blowing and sometimes come in as close as 10 meters from the shore.

Velddrif.

I initially found it a bit confusing trying to work out where Velddrif started and ended as there are no boundary boards or markers. You cross the bridge over the Berg River, about 170km’s from Cape Town and you are in Velddrif, turn left and follow the road, east to west,  and within the next 2 km’s you get to Port Owen and Laaiplek. The central feature of all three places is the Berg River.

A graphic representation of the area.
A graphic representation of the area.

Just to try and give you an idea of where the 3 places are situated.
Just to try and give you an idea of where the 3 places are situated.

Velddrif has been a popular holiday destination for many years and, as with Dwarskersbos 12kms  up the R27,  also originally belonged to the Smit family who farmed cattle in the area. However it was not cattle farming that put Velddrif on the map but the harvest from the sea that has always drawn people to the area. The first large fish factory was opened in 1944 and to this day tons of pilchards, snoek and harders are harvested from the cold Atlantic Ocean.

The Berg River from the eastern side of Velddrif.
The Berg River from the eastern side of Velddrif.

"Bokkom Lane"
“Bokkom” country.

You can’t spend time in the area without trying the local delicacy called bokkoms. It is here that large schools of harders are netted and hung out to dry in the sun and turned into fish biltong (jerky).

A fresh harder before being hung up to dry.
A fresh harder before being hung up to dry.
Bokkoms drying in the sun.
Bokkoms drying in the sun.
Spotted this Pelican waiting to feed on some of the throw aways.
Spotted this Pelican close inshore waiting to feed on some of the throw aways.

The birding at Velddrif is outstanding with over 180 bird species having been recorded there. I wanted to go on the birding boat trip which is normally R80.00 for an hour and a half  but, because I was the only customer, it was just too expensive as I would have had to pay R200.00.

The studio of Marina Clunie right at the rivers edge.
The studio of Marina Clunie right on the rivers edge. She is one of many local artists.

Wish I could paint.
Wish I could paint.
Velddrif also has salt pans and a processing factory right on the river.
Velddrif also has salt pans and a processing factory right on the river.

Cerebos salt processing plant.
Cerebos salt processing plant.

Tours to the salt factory are available on Thursdays and are by appointment only.

Moving westwards through Velddrif this is a shot taken from the bridge.
Moving westwards through Velddrif toward the sea this is a shot taken from the bridge.
There are some great restaurants and if you enjoy fish this is the place for you.
There are some great restaurants and if you enjoy fish this is the place for you.

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A good place to buy some bokkoms if you want to give them a try.
The river front craft market.
The river front Pelican Harbour.

A number of tourism related businesses operate from Pelican Harbour creating an interesting stop for those exploring the attractions of Velddrif.

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Artful Things. The wall mural on the left was a collaboration between 4 of the local artists.

Overall I enjoyed exploring Velddrif and found the people  friendly and helpful. I was originally going to include Laaiplek and Port Owen in this post but there was more than enough for Velddrif to stand on its own.

Dwarskersbos.

After a 5 week break I am now back on the road to continue my voyage of discovery round the coast of South Africa. I ended off at Vensterklip, just outside of Elands Bay , and am now at Dwarskersbos which is the next coastal town on the road south and  about 160 km’s from  Cape Town.

Dwarskersbos – a kersbos is a candle bush and dwars means across (pushed over by the wind) – is situated in the centre of the  St Helena Basin and  about 12 km’s north of Laaiplek on the R27.

This is a Kersbos consisting of 3 or 4 bushes clumped together.
This is  Kersbos consisting of 3 or 4 bushes clumped together.

The town was founded in 1920 on a Sandveld farm  called Dwarskersbos owned by the Smit family and even today most of the original farm is still owned by them. On the 23rd August a huge tidal wave, thought to be caused by the Tulbach earthquakes,  submerged most of the town. In 1974 Dwarkersbos got electrical power and in 1983 a new development was started next to the caravan park on the northern side of the town.

Lay out of the older part of the town.
Lay out of the older part of the town.

As you can see all of the houses are on the seaside of the R27 road and it was only recently that a housing development was built on the other side of the road.

There are some pretty big holiday houses.
There are some pretty big holiday houses.

I am guessing that there are about 300 houses of which at least 2/3rds are holiday homes.

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Original boundary poles to the south of the town.

The beaches go on for miles north and south of the town.
The beaches go on for miles north and south of the town.

Quite a house for a holiday home.
Quite a house for a holiday home.

Some unusual architcture. I waited to see if there might be a damsel with long hair at the top window.
Some unusual architecture. I waited to see if there might be a damsel with long hair at the top window.
This is the development on the other side of the road. All the rooves are covered with thatch.
This is the development on the other side of the road.
In the background is the only general dealer in the town
In the background is the only general dealer in the town
The only restaurant in town which is up for sale at R2.5 million.
The only restaurant in town which is up for sale at R2.5 million.
Another pretty large home.
Another pretty large home.
Inventive people - is this the latest South African TV arial?
Inventive people – is this the latest South African TV areal?

There is massive development taking place on the north side of the town.

There is massive development taking place on the north side of the town.

I think one could negotiate pretty good deals right now.

I think one could negotiate pretty good deals right now.

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Yes, No, Maybe?

For most of the year there are probably only 300 or 400 hundred residents in the town but I am told that come the holiday season the place is packed to the rafters. Whales can often be seen near the coast and attract many visitors and the town has become well known for its fishing and other water sports. There is also excellent bird watching at the famous Rocher Pan, with its over 150 bird species, which can be reached via a walking trail from Dwarskersbos.

Pick of the Pix.

As some of you know I am a professional photographer working out of Cape Town, South Africa and hope that the photographs in my posts have been fairly interesting. The professional  work  has been connected to theatre  and dance so this type of photography was pretty new to me. After having a look through all the photos from the trip I decided to do this post of a few that I think stand out from the rest.

Interesting to note that only 2 of the photos were taken with a high-end camera – actually a not so high-end Canon 20D with an 80-200 2.8f lens – and all the rest with a point and shoot type Canon G7 camera. I was truly amazed at the quality of the G7 and it was only for the photos of  birds that I switched to the 20D.

Sunrise at Brandkaros near Alexander Bay.
Sunrise at Brandkaros near Alexander Bay.

This is one of my favourites and I am using it as the desk top of my computer.

Beach at Alexander Bay.
Beach at Alexander Bay.

The feeling of desolation in this photo sums up the story of Alexander Bay itself.

Hazy sunset at McDougalls Bay.
Hazy sunset at McDougalls Bay.

Golden Sunset at McDougalls Bay.
Golden Sunset at McDougalls Bay.

Every sunset at McDougalls Bay seemed to produce  different tonal qualities.

Ship wreck at Port Nolloth.
Shipwreck at Port Nolloth.

This happened fairly recently and they were  hoping to re-float her.

Shipwreck just south of Kleinzee.
Shipwreck just south of Kleinzee.

Not much chance of re-floating this wreck!

Spot me if you can.
Spot me if you can.

Photo of very well camouflaged chameleon taken near Kleinzee.

Dragline taken at Kleinzee.
Dragline taken at Kleinzee.

Namaqualand flowers just outside Nababeep.

Namaqualand flowers just outside Nababeep.

Flowers near Springbok.

Flowers near Springbok.

According to most of the locals I spoke to 2009 has not been a great year for flowers.

Seal on the edge.

Seal on the edge at Hondeklipbaai.

About 10 seconds after I took this shot the seal took a headlong dive into that churning white water.

Still standing!

Still standing! (Dooringbaai)

Talk about the power of the sea – the noise when that wave hit that wall was like thunder.

Bird Island at Lamberts Bay.

Bird Island at Lamberts Bay.

The noise, and to be honest the smell, when you went down wind of these thousands of Gannets was quite something.

Bird on the wing.

Bird on the wing.

Toutch down at Verlorenvlei

Touch down at Verlorenvlei

Both bird shots above were taken at Vensterklip using a Canon 20D camera.

Well I hope you have enjoyed looking at the photographs as much as I did taking them. Hopefully there will be plenty more, at new locations, in the coming months.

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