Mountain Mist is the name of a guest farm located near the summit of “Engelsman se baken” – a peak that rises out of the west coastal plain of South Africa, about 140 km north of Cape Town, and about 30 km inland from the coastal town of Velddrif. We stayed a couple of days there last weekend; staying in a cottage with a huge open fireplace, and strolling around the top of the mountain, revelling in the silence and the views, and marvelling at the beauty and diversity of the mountain fynbos. At Mountain Mist, this regionally unique vegetation is dominated by a remarkable array of proteas, thriving on the pristine slopes at over 1000m asl, set above a matrix of unbroken cereal agriculture covering the flats down below.

I spent most of my time away searching for and trying to photograph some of the special birds of the mountain. This is an excellent place to see the globally threatened and locally endemic Protea Canary. I took pains to find and watch these otherwise elusive birds as they flitted tunefully about the giant blooms of the proteas, seeking out the exposed seeds on spent flowerheads. Nectar-feeders were also abundant and very active, many of them breeding in synchrony with the flowering season of the proteas. The streaming tails and strange, sizzling sounds of Cape Sugarbirds were everywhere, rivalled only by the piping calls and darting bodies of Malachite Sunbirds, resplendent in suits of dazzling, changeable green…


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