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Western Cape Trip Report: Garden Route - Plettenberg Bay & Nature's Valley
25 February 2015

Highlights: Knysna Turaco, Malachite Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Grassbird.

Number of species seen: 100

Malachite Kingfisher © Poul Cappelørn during a Birding Africa tour of the Garden Route.
Malachite Kingfisher with a fresh catch from the Bitou Wetlands.

Detailed Trip Report

With a very wet start to the day, Poul and I decided to head out regardless of the weather and we spent some time birding along a patch of thicket close to the Keurbooms Estuary. A Knysna Turaco was one of the first birds we saw, as well as Cape Robin-Chat, Cape White-eye, Fork-tailed Drongo, Fiscal Flycatcher and Blacksmith Lapwings.

We then took a drive towards Nature's Valley and got some lovely sightings of Southern Boubou, Collared Sunbird, Swee Waxbills, Forest Canary, Speckled Mousebirds and an Amethyst Sunbird. We continued to drive along the estuary and got to see Giant Kingfisher, White-breasted and Reed Cormorants.

Malachite Kingfisher © Poul Cappelørn on the Garden Route with Birding Africa. Malachite Kingfisher © Poul Cappelørn with Birding Africa Garden Route tour.
The strikingly bright Orange-breasted Sunbird and a typically perching Giant Kingfisher - the largest kingfisher in Africa.

Unfortunately the rain was still heavy at times so we decided to head to the Kurland Estate where we managed to see a good variety of birds from Black-headed Orioles, African Darter, White-backed Ducks, African Jacana's, Grey Heron, Black Headed Heron and White-throated Swallows. We had a look on the polo fields for some pipits and some great views of African and Plain-backed Pipits as well as a Cape Longclaw.

Poul and I then made our way back towards the Plettenberg Bay direction visiting the Plettenberg Bay Sewage Works where we got to see Cape and Red-billed Teals alongside Yellow-billed Ducks, White-faced Whistling Ducks, Cape Shovellers and Little Grebes.

Black Crake © Poul Cappelørn with Birding Africa.
Black Crake

We then decided to do some birding along Rietvlei Road side of the Bitou Wetlands picking up good sightings of African Stonechat, Common Waxbill, Black Crake, Purple Heron, Pied Kingfisher and Malachite Kingfisher.

Purple Heron © Poul Cappelørn with Birding Africa.
Purple Heron

We then made our way along the R340 along the Bitou River where we saw Giant Kingfisher and a pair of African Snipes.

Now that the rain had gone we made our way towards Robberg Nature Reserve and picked up good sightings of Red-faced Mousebirds, Streaky-headed Seedeaters and a Sombre Greenbul at Robberg Vlei.

Red-necked Francolin © Poul Cappelørn with Birding Africa.
Red-neck Spurfowl / Francolin

As we were about to enter Robberg Nature Reserve we had a fantastic view of a Rock Kestrel sitting on a telephone poll along the road. After Entering Robberg Nature Reserve we saw a few Red-necked Spurfowl crossing the road and along the pathways near the parking lot we saw Orange-breasted Sunbirds, Malachite Sunbirds, Karoo Prinia, a Neddicky, and an amazing sighting of a Large Grey Mongoose chasing a Nightjar. As we were about to leave Robberg we had a close up view of a pair of Cape Rock Thrushes.

Karoo Prinia © Poul Cappelørn seen on the Garden Route with Birding Africa.
Karoo Prinia

We then made our way back towards to the Bitou River Wetlands getting good views of Kittlitz's Plovers, Three- banded Plovers, Black-winged Stilts and a Jackal Buzzard.

Our final area to visit for the day was at a farming area called uplands and here we saw Amur Falcons catching Grasshoppers, Black-shouldered Kites, Cape Grassbird, Zitting and Grey-backed Cisticolas.

Cape Grassbird © Poul Cappelørn seen on the Garden Route with Birding Africa.
Cape Grassbird

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Gareth Robbins.

For a full list of species from this trip, please contact us.

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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