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Birding Trip Report - Cape Town Day Trip - 21 April 2010

The Cape Peninsula: Kirstenbosch, Rondevlei & Strandfontein

Itinerary: We visited key birding sites around Cape Town: Kirstenbosch, Rondevlei and Strandfontein Waste Water Treatment Works.

Total number of species seen: 89 species (88 seen, and one – Klaas’s Cuckoo – heard)

Detailed Trip Report

I collected Jay at his Cape Town hotel at 07h00 and headed for Kirstenbosch to meet Nigel and Christine at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens at 07h30.

On entering the gardens, a Black-headed Heron flew over, and one of our first birds inside was a Reed
which flew down to the large pond above the main entrance – both unusual species for the gardens.
Thereafter we picked up the expected species as we headed upwards along the western edge. Southern
Sunbirds were joined by Orange-breasted Sunbirds and higher up the slope we found a number of,
mainly male, Cape Sugarbirds. Southern Boubou was eventually seen well, as were Cape Bulbul, Cape Robin-
, Sombre Greenbul, Olive Thrush, African Dusky Flycatcher and other expected species. Overhead, we
had a pair of White-necked Raven, and as we watched them, they were joined by a pair of African Goshawks.
Heading down into the main gardens, we found the pair of Spotted Eagle Owls in their favourite tree above the
tarred path, and, when cutting back from below the Dell to look for the golden orb web spiders, we spotted both
Cape Batis and Forest Canary, having earlier added both Cape Canary and Brimstone Canary. We also heard but did
not see Klaas’s Cuckoo. Our last birds before heading for some much-needed refreshment were two Steppe
circling overhead.

Purple Swamphen (Purple Gallinule) photographed at Rondevlei on this Birding Africa day trip © Otto Schmidt.

Southern Double-collared Sunbird and Greater Flamingo photographed on this Birding Africa day trip © Jay Henderson.

After the refreshments at Kirstenbosch , we crossed the Peninsula to the Rondevlei Nature Reserve. The hides were relatively quiet, but overhead there were large numbers of feeding Alpine, Black and Little Swift. Amongst them were
Barn Swallows, still present in good numbers late into April. Three-banded Plovers, a single Curlew
, and the expected species such as Great White Pelican, Black-headed, Grey and Purple Heron, Reed
and White-breasted Cormorant, African Darter, Caspian Tern etc., were added until, on cue, a Purple
came into view and gave a great display. Two African Snipe were also seen before we headed on.

Jay & Nigel watch and photograph birds at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens © Otto Schmidt.

At the Strandfontein Waste Water Treatment Works, two African Marsh Harriers were soon seen, as were the expected array of other waterbirds. Migrant waders such as Little Stint, Ruff and Common Ringed Plover were still present, and a number of smaller species such as Lesser Swamp and Little Rush Warblers, Levaillant’s and Zitting Cisticola were added. Pied
were present in numbers and the very numerous Greater Flamingoes were everywhere. Of particular interest, as we stopped for coffee at Tim and Tom’s picnic spot, were numbers of Swift Terns flying over from False Bay carrying fish in their bills. On leaving the Works, the birds were still seen overhead as we passed the Ottery Hypermarket. We could only assume that they were heading across the Peninsula towards their traditional breeding site on Robben Island, a considerable journey, especially into the strengthening northwester. Our last new species for the day was a group of House Crows on Strandfontein Road, bringing the day’s total to 89 species (88 seen, and one – Klaas’s Cuckoo – heard).

After a good day out we returned to Kirstenbosch to collect Nigel and Christine’s car at about 17h30, and I drove Jay back to his Cape Town accommodation.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Otto Schmidt. Pictures taken by Otto Schmidt.

Many of the birding sites on this trip are described in detail in the Southern African Birdfinder which is widely available in South African bookshops and on the internet. (e.g., or However you're always welcome to contact us if you're interested in a guided trip in this area.

Practical tour information: Cape Day Trips and Western Cape Tours

Please click this link for more detailed information about our upcoming Cape Tours.
Focus Our Cape tours and day trips are aimed at keen birders and nature enthusiasts. They have been designed to see as many endemic birds as possible. While on the walks, we spend a lot of time looking for other aspects of wildlife such as mammals, chameleons, geckos, butterflies and interesting plants. We can also customise any itinerary to suit to the keen birder, the wildlife enthusiast or both.
Photography Many participants on our tours and day trips are amateur wildlife photographers. And when we get excellent views of a bird or mammal, some time is usually spent watching and photographing it. However, this is not a photographic tour and once the majority of the people have felt that they have absorbed the animal or bird to their satisfaction, then we move on in search of the next encounter. Thus, while the photographic opportunities are very good, the group will only occasionally wait for somebody who wants to spend even longer getting better photos.
Fitness Only a low level of fitness is required.
Timing Throughout the year.
Climate Moderate; can be warm in summer and chilly in winter.
Comfort A good standard of accommodation in guest houses, lodges and small hotels.
Transport We travel by minibus or four wheel drive vehicle.
Group Size This depends on the specific tour. Please enquire.
Top birds Fynbos endemics, Karoo endemics and raptors in a spectacular setting
Top mammals whales, dolphins, Cape Grysbok, Chacma Baboon, Caracal, Grey Mongoose
Booking Please contact us if you wish to book. You will receive the booking form and conditions and a tour information pack.

About Birding Africa

Birding Africa is a specialist birding tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed holiday birders.  We combine interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, botany and other natural history aspects and will guide you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Our guides' knowledge of African birds and birding areas is our greatest strength and together we have rediscovered species, shared exciting observations with the birding community and had a fun time exploring our home continent.  We've even written two acclaimed guide books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best birds. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle, and we are dedicated to making professional, best value trips filled with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997, we've run bird watching tours in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders, small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've run Conservation Tours in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC Natural History Unit.

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Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
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