Mountain Mist is a birding paradise. All sightings are within easy reach by either sitting on your balcony or going for a short stroll around the mountain top. There are many Raptors, including the rarely seen Black Eagle. Birders can enjoy the easy sightings of Protea canary, Sentinel Rock Thrush, and Ground Wood Pecker amongst other LBJ’S (little brown jobs). We also have a new resident pair of Black Harrier close by. Our Bird List has been verified by Margaret McIver.
Some comments from birders.
Birder friendliness: While Anne’s first love is the wildflowers of the area she has a genuine interest in birds and is very happy to help visiting birders.
Rare or difficult birds (Upper case seen, others reputed to be in the area):
FRECKLED NIGHTJAR (heard), SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSH, PROTEA CANARY and CAPE SISKIN, while the Berg River Estuary and it’s great estuarine birding is within feasible striking distance from Mountain Mist.
Comments: Mountain Mist Chalets are situated in a private nature reserve high up on the mountains above the small village of Aurora. There are some lovely and not too strenuous walks in the reserve and the view of the Atlantic coast from north of Velddrif to south of Langebaan Lagoon is something that should not be missed. The chalets are around an hour and a half from the bustle of Cape Town and the satellite tracking station on the mountain summit just above the chalets gives a kind of surreal sci-fi atmosphere to the place. On top of this the great birding makes a visit obligatory for any birder or nature lover. I wholeheartedly recommend Mountain Mist as a great place to stay for visiting birders. I’m sure that non-birding partners will be just as enamoured of the place as we were.
JOHN MAC CALLISTER Sept 02
MOUNTAIN MIST Adjacent to Natural Heritage Site
Situated high in the Kapteinskloof Mountains, with spectacular views out to the Cedarberg and over the West Coast Plains to the Atlantic Ocean, lies a Private Nature Reserve known as Mountain Mist. This is the best spot close to Cape Town for the elusive Protea Canary – you will have difficulty spending time here in summer and not seeing it. Mountain Mist is an ideal overnight stop after a day spent birding the productive West Coast.
Protea Canary, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Siskin, Sentinel Rockthrush, Cape Rockthrush; Black Harrier, Cape Eagle Owl.
The site is predominantly Cape Mountain Fynbos with a (siskin supporting) grove of pine trees near the accommodation..
Self-catering accommodation and walking trails.
1. Be sure to get off to an early start as the Protea Canary is most active then. It is fairly easily seen from the road close by the accommodation. The rocky ridge up toward the radar tracking station also supports Ground Woodpecker. Listen for the distinctive, explosive call. Cape Rockthrush and (the more elusive) Sentinel Rockthrush are also best seen in the early morning along the rocky areas abutting the walk to the Radar Station. The Neddicky, found only in mountainous habitat in the Western Cape, is readily seen as is Greybacked Cisticola. Look out for Booted Eagle and Jackal Buzzard soaring overhead. Cape Sugarbird and Orangebreasted Sunbird abound in the protea bushes and Grassbird, Cape Bunting and Familiar Chat are easily found. Cape Batis occur in the pine tree grove.
2. There is a resident pair of Black Eagle which breed on the cliffs. Black Harrier also breed within the Nature Reserve and Peregrine Falcon can also be found.
3. When evening falls you may enjoy the spectacular sight of the sun setting over the Atlantic. Listen for the call of a Cape Eagle Owl – often perched conspicuously on a rock. Both Freckled Nightjar and Fierynecked Nightjar are heard (and seen). Small flocks of Cape Siskin flit through the twilight.
Mountain Mist offers three very comfortable wooden cabins with full kitchen and ablution facilities. Bring your own food. The site abuts a Defence Force restricted area and access, without the express permission of the landowners, is strictly forbidden. There are a number of short hikes out from the accommodation the most prominent being one that winds down to a stream and rock pool, and ends at a cave with Bushmen paintings. Most of the target birds though are seen in close proximity to the accommodation.
From the bird hide on the Berg river at Laaiplek take the tarred road toward Piketberg (R399) A few kms beyond the town take the sand road to the left signposted Aurora. This stretch supports a variety of birds associated with West Coast coastal scrub. Keep an eye open for Cape Penduline Tit, Longbilled Crombec and significant numbers of Black Korhaan. Breeding Eurasian Bee-eater occur here in summer.
Travel along the road until you reach the T Junction (from this point you can see the village of Aurora ahead of you), turn right and (shortly after reaching the tar) turn left into Aurora. Once in the small town take the left turn on the road to Redelinghuys. Mountain Mist is a well signposted turn off to the right about 2 kms from the village.
The first few kms up the mountain are very steep and the road is winding but don’t be alarmed – things get better. Take time out to enjoy the birds along the way including the often shy Greywing Francolin. Go through the first settlement ( you are not yet at your destination) and, shortly after leaving the pine plantation you reach the S A Heritage site. Don’t be put off by the very severely worded Defence Force restricted area signs – provided of course you have obtained permission to enter from the Mountain Mist owners. Another 5 kms along a surprisingly good sand road will bring you to Mountain Mist.
Please close all gates behind you and drive slowly.