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A Mad Summer, a Cuckoos Summer

It has been a mad summer, with COVID lock-downs, masks, hand sanitisers and late starts to the day. Bird life numbers are down this year but several interesting sightings have been made. While sitting quietly watching for the Brown-hooded Kingfisher, a Diederik’s Cuckoo came and sat close by, oblivious (or tolerant?) of the camera and posed for several minutes in perfect soft light from behind me. Ever had a good look at the range of colours in this bird? Incredibly beautiful, not that a camera can do justice to the iridescence.

Not to be out done, a Black Cuckoo flew down, spied a large caterpillar and proceeded try and catch it. The caterpillar, a large one, a Fulvous Hawk Moth, was not going to let go of the twig it clinged to, so the cuckoo literally hung from the caterpillar at times, some serious flapping of wings too. The bird eventually managed to free the caterpillar and flew off to a convenient branch to beat the unfortunate caterpillar to death and squeeze the gut contents out. It seems that they like the caterpillar only, not what it had been eating. Imagine swallowing whole, a caterpillar this size! This Black Cuckoo hung around the dam and wetland for several days, keeping mainly to shady trees, Black birds in the shade are not the best photographic subjects, but in sunlight the “Black Cuckoo” displays a range of very beautiful deep purple/blue iridescence.

Not to be out done, a juvenile Red-chested Cuckoo was seen feeding in the trees and from the lawn around the Gazebo. Juvenile birds can be very confusing and seldom illustrated in bird books, but this one has been confirmed. Adults were active and very vocal in the Mushroom Meander area earlier in the summer. As with most cuckoo, not hard to hear but hard to see.

Not seen this summer but on record as being seen in the Garden are the Klaas’s Cuckoo and the African Emerald Cuckoo. The male of this species is a spectacular iridescent green with a yellow front, the Springbok of the Cuckoos maybe?

To add to the cuckoos, both the Black and the Grey Cuckooshrikes have been seen this summer a fairly rare sighting of the Cuckoo Hawk. Seven birds with cuckoo in their name justifies a Cuckoo Summer, where wearing masks and rubber gloves in a bank did not lead to immediate arrest as it would have done a year ago.

Article and photos by Colin Ralston


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Wheelchair friendly mushroom meander

We are hard at work to finish up our wheelchair friendly mushroom meander project!

In March last year we received a donation from the Rowland and Leta Hill trust for our wheelchair friendly project. Unfortunately with lockdown and covid we could not start the construction immediately as we had planned.  A few months went by and finally we could start up the construction in August 2020 and we have been working hard since then to get the project done.

As seen in the picture our staff are working tirelessly, even offering up their weekends, to ensure that the mushroom meander can become wheelchair friendly.

Keep an eye on our Facebook page or website for further updates on the Mushroom Meander project.

From left to right in the picture: Fred(volunteer), Burgert Jordaan(staff) and Jackson Nkampini(staff)

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City Nature Challenge 2021

City Nature Challenge is an event started by iNaturalist where cities around the world compete for the most identifications of living organisms in their region.
Observations will be taken from April 30th until May 3rd. Identifications of these observations will be allowed from the April 30th – May 9th.
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Level 3 restrictions!

Level 3 restrictions and how it affects the Garden:
After the President’s speech last night we would like to clarify any confusions.
With the new restrictions in place the Garden has to adhere to certain new regulations. The Garden will be open as access to the Garden can be controlled however in terms of the Covid regulations nobody should enter the Garden outside of opening times/through any gate other than the Protea gate. If it is found that people are entering through other gates/outside of opening times the Garden is in danger of having to close completely as it is then no longer access controlled. We ask all members to please adhere to these stipulations.

New opening times of the garden:
09:00 – 18:00
These times are from immediate affect

Covid 19 protocol when entering the Garden:
You will be required to sign in at the gate
Everyone entering must wear a mask, please keep your mask on at all times
Masks may be removed when exercising but the person exercising must keep the required social distance of 1.5 metres from anybody else.
Masks are only allowed to be removed by people who are exercising, everyone else in the garden must wear a mask at all times and social distancing must be adhered to.
You will be required to sanitise & have your temperature taken when entering

Level 3 restrictions

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Night life in the Garden

Join us for a night tour through the Garden Route Botanical Garden, and try to spot our local nightlife. 🌕
Be on the lookout for the Knysna dwarf chameleon, interesting insects, birds as well as our 11 different species of frogs! 🦇🕷🐢
Bring with
👉 a flashlight and
👉 a very good ear to track their calls, and lastly
👉 lots of enthusiasm!
The evening will be starting off with a presentation from:
🐍 Snake and reptile handler and rescue expert Justin
🦉 Lauren Foss from Birds of Prey
🐸 Amphibian Expert Ferdie de Lange
Expert of all things living in the Garden Route Botanical Garden, Colin Ralston and spider expert, Anthea Fuller will also be joining us on the tour.
R50.00 entrance & it starts at 6pm 
Ages 12 and above welcome! 
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Carols by Candlelight

Happy News!!💃
Our Carols by Candlelight event is still happening. 🙏🕯
Please note the date has been changed to Tuesday the 22nd of December.

In order to fall into covid regulations, the following will be done:
– Entrance will be limited to 200 people, come early to avoid disappointment.
– Social distancing measures will be put into place.
– No mask, no entrance.

What to bring:
🎵 A Picnic basket with lekker snacks
🎵 A blanket or chairs
🎵 And Christmas cheer

This will be a free event, but donations will be collected in support of the Garden Route Botanical Garden which is a Non-Profit organisation.
You can choose to bring your own candle and candleholder. However, candles will be for sale at the event! 🕯