Monday, 7 May 2012

Outing report- 5th-6th May 2012 Cape Parrot Count

Text & photos by Andy Ruffle

Mpur lookout point

Liz Blomeyer, Herbie Osborne and I, headed out to Mpur, some 60kms from Ingeli Forest Lodge, for the 15th Cape Parrot Count.
Since last year, invasive bramble has taken over our usual vantage point, making it extremely difficult to access and possibly not suitable for setting up camp. Not to be defeated, we set about finding another way in, on foot, to what was really our desired spot. It wasn't too long, before we stumbled upon what promised to be an ideal alternative location.  With some very expert manouvering of the vehicle by Herbie through Pine trees and much clearing of debris from the plantation floor by Liz and I, we managed to reach what was to be our base camp. By 1530 we were all set up and took the short walk down to the viewing point to have a well deserved beer and marvel at the view.

In the distance, the cloudbase was getting lower and lower. To our dismay, by 1630 we were blanketed in thick mist and with still an hour to go to sunset. With no prospect of actually seeing our target, we now had to rely on our ears. It was no great surprise that, by the last glimmers of light, we had not heard a single parrot calling. With no parrots flying in that evening we held little hope for seeing anything the next day. Only time would tell.

Liz & Herbie scour the forest, below, for any signs of
Cape Parrots on Sunday morning

Although very damp and with plenty of cloud cover, the following morning was relatively clear. With hot beverages in hand, we made our way to the lookout point to catch the first rays of light.
The forest below, came alive with the sound of Brown Scrub-Robins and Knysna Turacos, but alas no cheerful squawks of parrots. At 0900, with the rest of the forest residents busily about their daily business, we sadly called it a day. Had the weather affected the presence of parrots here, was there something more sinister going on, or was there another perfectly logical explanation?
Once again, we will have to wait for the official report from Prof. Colleen Downs, which may throw light on these questions.
On a more positive note. Belinda Cooper, from Gauteng, had contacted us expressing the desire to participate in the count. Belinda, her husband Dave and daughter Julia, took advantage of Ingeli Forest Lodge's offer of a reduced rate room and kindly covered the Ingeli area. Although they were also hampered by the weather on Saturday, they did manage to hear plenty of parrots calling on Sunday morning. One male Cape Parrot obliged by perching just 20m away from them and gave them a wonderful view for some 20 minutes.

To download or view the official Cape Parrot Count reports from previous years click here.

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