De Mond Veld Cottage is situated in a tract of pristine limestone fynbos. The small trail network has views over the Heuningnes estuary and the Indian Ocean and is home to many wonderful creatures!
A very smart selection of birds occurs in the wider De Mond area.
6 of the 39 species endemic to South Africa, could be seen during a stay at De Mond! Grey-winged Francolin is more often heard than seen as is the elusive Knysna Woodpecker in the taller milkwood areas. Agulhas Long-billed Lark can be found in the fields en route to De Mond. Cape Bulbuls and Cape Weavers are common around the cottage and African Pied Starlings are often seen flying around on the agricultural side of the farm.
A wider range of Southern African endemics are found here – an additional 20 of these. Chief amongst them is the critically endangered Black Harrier which is a breeding resident in the surrounding dune fynbos and hilltop observation will often deliver a good sighting. Another sought- after resident is the Southern Tchagra, found in the thicket areas. Your wake-up call will most likely be the Cape Spurfowl! Southern Boubou, Bokmakierie, Acacia Pied Barbet, Cardinal Woodpecker, Fiscal Flycatcher and Cape Robin-chat are resident in the vicinity of the cottage. Southern Double-collared and Malachite Sunbirds will visit the flowering plants here too. Raptors include Jackal Buzzard, Rock Kestrel, Black-shouldered Kite and Lanner Falcon. Smaller species are White-throated & Yellow Canary, Long-billed Crombec, Bar-throated Apalis, Grey-backed Cisticola and Cape Grassbird.
At night the beautiful call of the Fiery-necked Nightjar or Spotted Eagle-owl may be heard as well as the plaintive Spotted and Water Thick-knees. Sometime the screeching Barn Owls come around too.
Being far south and near the most southerly estuary in Africa, it is not unusual to see something unusual! In recent years, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Black Cuckooshrike, Common Cuckoo, Cape Penduline-tit, Rufous-cheeked Nightjar and Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters have all paid a visit!
Birding within the De Mond Nature Reserve can be very rewarding too. The reserve is a Ramsar Wetland of International Importance for the presence of the diminutive breeding Damara Terns. In summer large flocks of terns and wading birds are present which are popular among local birders in search of rare birds. De Mond has hosted numerous rare birds over the years including American and Pacific Golden Plovers, Gull-billed Tern and Broad-billed Sandpiper. Terek Sandpipers and Greater Sand Plovers are present most summers as are Common Whimbrel and Grey Plover. Osprey may be seen in summer and winter as De Mond seems to be a regular over-wintering site. The feisty Caspian Tern is a breeding resident and the African Black Oystercatcher is often in the estuary.
Birding along the main dirt road can be very rewarding. Blue Crane, Denham’s Bustard, Capped Wheatear, Greater Flamingo, Cape Crow, White Stork (in summer) and Common Buzzard are often seen. Patient scanning may reveal, Southern Black Korhaan, Large-billed Lark and even African Quail-finch. In summer, Pearl-breasted Swallow is quite common. After good rains, some natural depressions have a variety of ducks from Cape Teal to Cape Shoveler and South African Shelduck.
The resident Scrub Hares are regularly on the lawn at dawn and dusk and later at night Porcupines, Small-spotted Genet and Common Duiker may come around to visit.
The cute little fynbos endemic antelope is the Cape Grysbok. It is present but not easily seen or photographed! Small Grey Mongoose is often seen scurrying about, whilst Striped Mouse is very common and at night Cape Gerbils can be found.
Rare species that may be seen by lucky visitors are the beautiful Caracal and very occasionally the Honey Badger. Vagrant Kudu sometimes make an appearance or leave their larger tracks on the trails.
Away from the cottage, Grey Rhebok and Steenbok are seen in the farm fields between the tar road and De Mond. The Yellow Mongoose with its white tail-tip is another fairly common species to look out for and rarely the very large Egyptian Mongoose. Other antelope seen here are ‘farmed’ and not wild. Excursions into the De Mond Nature Reserve may yield the Cape Clawless Otter and along the beach, Indian Ocean Hump-backed Dolphin, Southern Right Whale and Hump-backed Whales may be spotted at certain times of the year.
The diversity of plants is one of the great attractions here and typically for the fynbos is varied throughout the year. The protected Milkwood trees are the pride of De Mond!
Springtime is a popular time to visit for plants with the terrestrial orchids taking centre stage, especially Satyriums and the tall beautiful wood orchid Bonatea speciosa.
Common attractive species include the clustered Aloe brevifolia, Albuca maxima, red Lachenalia species, the impressive Candelabra flower and April’s Fool Haemanthus. Cyrtanthus fire lilies, Romulea and Freesia are others to look out for as well as the wonderful Kukamakranka!
Larger fairly common plants are Conebushes, Cherrywood, Lepelhout and Slanghout. Widespread species common in fynbos are the white flowering Wild Rosemary, Salvia africana-lutea, Blombos, Chironia, Agathosma cerefolium (boegoe) and Skilpadbessie. Some attractive restio species are present throughout.
A few limestone endemic species like Hermannia concinnifolia are present in small numbers and there is always something new to be found in bloom for the keen observer.
Please take care in the summer months when Puff Adder and Cape Cobra are most active. For reptile enthusiasts, Skaapstekers, Mole Snakes, Boomslang are some of the resident snake species to be found. Southern Rock Agama, Marbled Leaf-toed Gecko, Red-sided Skink and Cape Dwarf Chameleon are the most likely lizards to be found.
Insects & ‘Bugs’ – the little critters
A variety of butterflies, mantids, endemic flies and many interesting ant species occur here.
Mosquitoes are present in summer especially after small rains, so come prepared. Wild bees also occur, mostly found at flowering bushes in the veld.
Parabuthus and Uroplectes scorpions are widespread living under limestone rocks. Whilst rarely found at the cottage, please remain cautious if barefoot in summer.