When we got onto the farm there were almost no birds. You’d see the occasional pigeon, and on the edges of the gorge you might see sunbirds and sugarbirds in the proteas. Now the farm is full of a wide variety of birds. Knysna Loeries are drawn by the Cape Ash, the fruiting Yellowwoods, and the Hyperphyllum that we have planted. They also love the Ficus as do the bats that come in numbers at night. The Fiscal Shrikes love the vines to hunt among. Mousebirds, Chats, Thrushes, Tambourine Doves, Wood Pigeons, Herons, Ibis, Ducks, Geese, Forest finches, Swees, White-eyes, Hoopoes, Drongoes, – all are common here now and the list goes on. We have even seen Narina Trogons, Hamerkops, Hoopoes, Ramerons, and Paradise Flycatchers.

This of course is a double-edged sword, as, although we love the birds and have spent many a year planting bird-specific trees and bushes and spend a fortune feeding them during the lean months, they specifically love the ripening grapes.

At great expense we bought nets to cover all the vines – which is a time-consuming and back-breaking two-week mission to roll and pin the lengths in place.  And, it turns out, is pretty pointless, because those little white-eyes can get in anywhere!

One weekend we watched in fascination as about 50 Loeries flew up from the gorge in a scarlet, majestic and ungainly formation, through the electrified fence, into the vines.  Hopping happily up the rows and into the vines.  Although our wine smous, Cobus, calls them the gentlemen thieves, as they eat a whole berry, they don’t just peck away and destroy bunches like the rest of them do.


But then birds are amazing!  The Cape Robins tell us when a boomslang is around. They have a distinctive alarm call that calls all the other birds to come and harass the snake. We’ve made a snake-catching device out of an old fishing rod and have become quite adept at catching snakes and taking them to the snake sanctuary down the road. Sometimes things go wrong though. On one occasion a really big boomslang escaped from the pillowslip and took off round the lounge to the outrage and alarm of our many dogs.