By Bryan Butler

Many of us were unable to attend the official opening of Jesse’s new hide and so on 16th February 2019 we went up as a club to see for ourselves.

The mist was low on Sir Lowry’s Pass as our convoy of 5 cars climbed over the mountain but it cleared on the other side where we met two more cars and headed for Keurbos on the Highlands Road.

We parked cars and immediately bumped into Carin Malan and a small band of birders – a welcome sight! On to the hide and what a picture perfect hide it is. We entered 8 at a time and could look on to the island studded with Darters and Cormorants.

After that we walked round the dam with Jill Mortimer guiding us, while Jesse took on the other group. We met overlooking the second dam where we were treated to the sight of a family of White-backed Ducks foraging in the water lillies.

This small duck seems to spend half its time submerged and the white back is only seen in flight. We went on to see where Jesse is developing a wetland – most of her dams are deep and there is little place for the birds which like shallows – Spoonbills and Crakes for example.

Already close to 11 o’clock we crossed the road and unpacked our rucksacks at the cosy refreshment area. This was followed by a walk through just some to the beautiful gardens. African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Batis, Amethyst Sunbird, Mousebirds, Robin-chat, and the call of the Cape Siskin all rolled into one.

From there we walked past the nursery to Jesse’s home where she is caring for an injured Jackal Buzzard, and inside her home a tiny Swift which she is hand-feeding.

And so, past the famous hedge where she and Rob Martin first realised that the Brown-backed Honeybird was probably brood parasiting the Karoo Prinia. From there we moved by car to the Wooden Lodge and another dam. Jesse related stories of just some of the work she is doing to return areas of the farm to its original habitat and her fascinating technical work with the Karoo Prinia.

What an incredible morning, How privileged were we to have so much time with this unbelievably busy giant of a personality, Jesse Walton.