Hello Everyone,

I have just returned from a 4 week South African holiday when I birded the two most hottest locations – Sani Pass and the Cape Pelagic! – SA Birding advertises the Sani Pass as one of the top 10 birding spots – both of these are probably SA’s best! It was my first time – I usually take bushveld safari holidays – I amassed some 65 new ticks and my SA list is now nearly 700!

I also stumbled onto a Buffbreasted Sandpiper near Bloemfontein – the 9th South African record confirmed by Trevor Hardacre – record still to be lodged with the SA recorder – a real beauty!

My thanks go to Malcolm Gremmel of Button Birding, who also guided me around his farm at Creighton (at the bottom of the Sani Pass) – Malcolm showed me some 8 lifers including Black-rumped Buttonquail and Blue Swallow (seriously threatened mist belt species) along with 14 Sani Pass lifers – I also managed to succeed in finding the Bearded Vulture – in Lesotho – a new Southern African tick! I have a good nickname for Malcolm – “Rockjumper” – he certainly is on the ‘button’!

(Please note that the Sani Pass requires a 4×4 – oil sump of normal sedan cars will be torn off! Best to hire a guide, who has the appropriate vehcile – we used my la(n)dy so that I had all my cameras at hand.)

I went to Robben Island and nailed the Indian Peafowl and Chukhar in half an hour thanks to the Cape Town tourist guide – he knew exactly where to find them – pure luck – they laid on the vehicle free!..naturally I tipped generously!

Many thanks also go to Trevor Hardaker & John Graham for the Cape Pelagic on Friday 16 feb 2008 – amazing sea bird identifcations – some 13 new lifers and 15 new SA ticks! – the sight of three albatross species was new experience for me – to see them so close to the boat – absolutely fantastic trip!

Also a big thank you to Josh of Tropical Birding – for the Red-necked Phalarope twitch at Velddrif (nr West Coast National Park) and Turnstones (Yzerfontein) – the latter proved elusive. Josh has amassed a year list of some 1400 ticks (he also leads tours to Madagascar).

Best regards
Derrick Wilby