The South Easter is howling. It’s Saturday morning, 20th October and birding is clearly impossible, turning “Idiom” into “Idiotic”!

But ten of us in three cars are apparently hardy souls and decide to drive a few of the farm roads so we can at least enjoy the view if not the birds.

Our first jeep track choice turns into a cul-de sac so we reverse and try a second one. In the distance we can see a lovely gravel road gently curving round the foothills and this is where we want to be. The second road, heading there, gets gradually rougher and narrower.

A bend in the track and fallen branches block the way. The gallant ones leap out of the front vehicle and break, smash, pull and push a path through. Only a few meters later more bush and steeper banks and the team sets to work again.

Another bend, and another barrier of branches. It takes longer this time and finally the rest of us decide to help too. Just too late – the path is cleared again. There are gallant attempts to hold back scratching branches but to no avail as that screeching sound, as a sharp piece of dried branch makes contact with the shiny Duco of our Fortuner, penetrates the air.

Ouch!!! After more than an hour of this torture, we find a place where turning round is just possible. Two of the vehicles are 4-wheel drive but the Fortuner is not and the manoeuvre entails reversing up a very steep bank. Clearly the car will battle for traction. J

ohn Magner offers to attempt the task and so, blood trickling from his arms (a result of the numerous arguments with the bushes) he expertly completes the operation and we are faced with returning up the track we have just traversed..
Finally we make it and are able to return to the Winery.
Bird count for the morning? 4.
We were lucky….