Birding Africa
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Cape Peninsula & Hottentots Holland Day Trips, 25 and 26 February 2010

This day trip took in the best of Cape Town's birding sites, with African Openbill as exceptional sighting for the area.
Please scroll down for the detailed trip report. Please click here for more information about our upcoming Cape Tours.

African Openbill photographed at Strandfontein Waste Water Treatment Works on a Birding Africa Day Trip around Cape Town © Otto Schmidt. 2010 brought the first-ever record of these storks around Cape Town.

Detailed Trip Report

25 February.

We met at the Garden Court Hotel at 9 am for a birding day on the Cape Peninsula. Our first destination was the Atlantic seaboard near the Moullie Point light-house, where we managed to notch up a good selection of species, including three terns, two gulls, African Black Oystercatcher, Crowned and White-breasted Cormorants, Little Egret, several migrant waders plus Kittlitz’s Plover, Cape Gannet fishing off-shore and a few land-based species. Many of the birds were very confiding, and Brian was able to get some good photographs. After a very rewarding hour or so, with 23 species in the bag, we headed on through Hout Bay and over Constantia Neck to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.

Kittlitz’s Plover at Mouille Point, Cape Town © Brian & Janet Ellis.

At Kirstenbosch, on the east-facing slopes of Table Mountains, the birding started fairly slowly, but an abundance of Orange-breasted Sunbirds and Cape Sugarbirds soon had the cameras clicking again. Additional species such as Sombre Greenbul, Karoo Prinia, Cape Canary, Common Waxbill, Cape Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush, Dusky Flycatcher and an unexpected Common Fiscal kept us going, and eventually, whilst heading for the Dell to look for the owls, we had good views of Cape Batis. To our delight, we located two Spotted Eagle Owls and, on the way to lunch, a group of Cape Spurfowl put in a welcome appearance.

African Dusky Flycatcher and Spotted Eagle Owl at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens © Brian & Janet Ellis.

After a much-needed rest in the shade and some lunch, we headed to Strandfontein Sewage Works, with a short detour through the Philippi wetlands (now dry-lands) en route. Large numbers of African Sacred Ibis and Blacksmith Lapwings were still present here, as was a solitary White Stork. A good sighting was obtained of a Black-shouldered Kite on the overhead wires.

After signing in and heading for the sewage works entrance, we were surprised and delighted to see eight African Openbills alongside the road.

The works were excellent as usual, with a slight breeze keeping the temperature pleasant. Hottentot Teal was added to the other two teal species, and most of the expected ducks with the exception of White-backed and Southern Pochard were present. Several additional waders were added, as well as a number of other waterbirds (Greater Flamingo, Avocet, African Purple Swamphen etc.) and bush-birds before we headed back towards town with a total of 81 species for the day.

26 February.

We left Cape Town after a brief stop at ORMS Photographic Warehouse at about 09h30. Our first bird of note along the N2 was the House Crow before we drove along Clarence Drive towards Rooiels.

This area was relatively quiet, and birding was slow with the wind increasing in strength. However, the Black Eagles put on a good display, and Cape Sugarbird and Malachite Sunbird were present in good numbers. A good view was obtained of a female Cape Rock Thrush, and Grey-backed Cisticola and Familiar Chat were added to the list, but there was no sight (nor sound) of Cape Rockjumper or Ground Woodpecker – or the usually present Neddicky, Cape Bunting and Yellow Bishop.

We headed on to Stoney Point, where the African Penguins are always appreciated, and all four marine cormorant species were present. The Bank Cormorants were particularly active, collecting nesting material (sea-weed) in the bay and clearly showing their white rumps. Cape Gannets were again diving off-shore.

The next stop was the Harold Porter Reserve in Betty's Bay, where we started with lunch and then walked around the gardens, which were fairly productive, with Black Saw-wing, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Bulbul and a single Swee Waxbill being added amongst others. On a building just outside the reserve a male Cape Rock Thrush showed well.

We returned along the coast, arriving back at the hotel at about 18h00. The total for a fairly quiet but interesting day was 52 species, making the overall total for the two days exactly 100 species (101 if one includes the Black Swan seen at Strandfontein – certainly free-flying, but also certainly an escapee).

Trip Evaluation
Brian and Janet wrote us after they returned home: 'Now back and sorting our photos etc. we must say how much we enjoyed our two birding days with Otto. It really was a tremendous introduction to birding in South Africa and Otto was clearly so knowledgeable and helpful. I am sure you could not have provided a better guide.'

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Otto Schmidt. Photographs by Otto Schmidt and participants Brian & Janet Ellis.

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

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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