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Western Cape: Trip report - Hottentot's Holland, Cape Peninsula & West Coast
22 - 24 October 2014

Highlights: No fewer than nine Cape Rockjumpers at Rooi Els with a supporting cast of Cape Siskin, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, five species of Cormorant and a stunning Peregrine Falcon on the Hottentot's Holland leg. On the Peninsula, Maccoa Duck, Black-necked Grebe, African Marsh-harrier, African Goshawk and a Spotted Eagle-owl on the nest were the main attractions. The trip concluded on the West Coast with fantastic sightings of Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Penduline Tit and Grey-winged Francolin.

Number of species seen over the three days: 149

Detailed Trip Report

Hottentot's Holland - 22 October 2014

I picked up Premkumar and Jonas from their respective accommodations near Greenpoint and we headed out east. The first highlight of the day came shortly after turning towards Gordon's Bay when a Hamerkop flew over the road ahead of us. We jumped out of the car but the bird had already disappeared behind a large stand of pines and could not be relocated. While searching we picked up Greater Striped Swallow, Reed Cormorant and Cape Canary.

Cape Rock-thrush © Premkumar Devdoss during a Birding Africa Hottentot's Holland day trip
Cape Rock-thrush

At Rooi Els we stopped by the roadside in town to watch and photograph a group of Rock Hyrax and also found Cape Grassbird, Cape Sugarbird and Brimstone Canary. Moving on we soon found a group of Cape Rockjumper and were able to observe the pair with young in tow at close quarters, thanks to the relatively recent fire that meant the vegetation was very open. Soon another pair began calling further upslope, and as the morning drew on it became clear that this was a day for Rockjumpers, with no fewer than nine individuals seen in total, often from extremely close range! Other good birds here included Cape Siskin, Cape Rock-thrush, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Grey-backed Cisticola.

We headed over to Stoney Point's African Penguin colony which included individuals in all stages of life and moult, as well as Cape, White-breasted, Crowned and Bank Cormorants all breeding in close proximity to one another. After lunch we spent the rest of the day exploring the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. A Giant Kingfisher caused some excitement on two occasions with rapid fly-bys but attempts to track it down for better views proved fruitless. The lawns were good for seed eaters, including an obliging pair of Cape Siskin as well as Common and Swee Waxbills. We managed good views of vocal African Paradise-flycatcher, Sombre Greenbul, Cape Robin-chat and Cape Batis. There was more excitement in the form of a female Amethyst Sunbird before a Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk suddenly appeared soaring low above us. A group of Black Saw-wing also formed part of the aerial contingent. The day ended with a beautiful Peregrine Falcon that flew past twice as we were getting ready to leave.

African Penguin © Premkumar Devdoss
African Penguin

Cape Peninsula - 23 October 2014

An early start to the day saw Melissa, Candice, Premkumar and myself headed for Strandfontein, the Peninsula's premier wetland birding site. Our first stop provided a number of waterfowl, including Cape Teal, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard and Little, Great Crested and Black-necked Grebes. The reeds lining the pans provided African Purple Swamphen, Black Crake, Black-crowned Night-heron, Levaillant's Cisticola and Little Rush Warbler. A big surprise was an Acacia Pied Barbet flying over the pans, a very unusual bird for the Peninsula these days. A large sand bank held Swift, Caspian and Sandwich Terns, as well as a single Grey-headed Gull. The same pan had a vast gathering of Greater Flamingo, among which we picked out a single Lesser Flamingo. Also present here were Pied Avocet and a pair of White-throated Swallow feeding young. An African Marsh-harrier harried past, while an obliging Cape Longclaw foraged at the roadside. Further on we stopped to watch a number of Great White Pelican pass overhead and were lucky to find a male Maccoa Duck feeding nearby. On the way out a Cape Cobra crossing the road ahead of us provided some excitement.

We headed off to the Boulder's Beach African Penguin colony, and had great views of these comical birds, including hearing their strange braying calls. Also here were African Black Oystercatcher and Speckled Mousebird. We then made our way to Kirstenbosch, where the gardens were unusually quiet. We did, however, manage a few good sightings, including Swee and Common Waxbills, Brimstone Canary, and some of the gardens' more conspicuous denizens such as Cape Robin-chat, Southern Double-collared Sunbird and African Dusky Flycatcher. We had some luck with raptors, with soaring Jackal and Steppe Buzzards as well as an overflying African Goshawk. The highlight here was seeing the long-time resident pair of Spotted Eagle Owls nesting right next to the path. A walk down the 'Boomslang', the new aerial boardwalk, brought an end to an enjoyable day's birding.

Southern Double-collared Sunbird © Premkumar Devdoss on a Birding Africa Cape Peninsula day trip
Southern Double-collared Sunbird

West Coast - 24 October 2014

Jonas, Premkumar and I headed north under clear skies for the final day, a trip up the West Coast in search of Strandveld specials. We had a great start with a Jackal Buzzard followed by a Booted Eagle seen well from the road on the drive up. We headed straight for the West Coast National Park, where almost the first bird we had was a Black Harrier that flushed from the roadside and provided good views. We had a number of good sightings of this striking raptor throughout the day. Regular roadside stops provided Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Red-faced and White-backed Mousebirds, Karoo Scrub-robin, Yellow Canary and Namaqua Dove. At the Seeberg viewpoint we watched the Rock Martins, White-rumped Swifts and Yellow-billed Kites enjoying the stiff breeze and passing by at close range. A movement caught our attention and turned out to be a male Southern Black Korhaan slinking about on the grassy hilltop.

Moving on, we found a small covey of Grey-winged Francolin scratching around in the shadow of a small bush. While watching them we picked up a pair of Cape Penduline Tit foraging nearby. At the Seeberg hide we found a number of waders, including Kittlitz's and White-fronted Plovers (the former with tiny chocks in tow), Greenshank, Common Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Curlew Sandpiper and a single Red Knot. After lunch at Geelbek we scoured the line of Eucalyptus trees at the roadside, but the windy conditions seemed to have silenced most birds. Fortunately a number of brilliant male Malachite Sunbirds were undeterred, and put on a great show as they chased each other about, showing off their yellow epaulettes.

Leaving the park we made our way to the Darling Hills road where immediately another Southern Black Korhaan greeted us at the roadside. The wheat fields held a pair of Blue Crane, displaying Capped Wheatear, and Red-capped Larks in abundance. A number of European Bee-eaters twittered overhead. Among a large group of foraging Cape Weavers was a beautiful male Diderick Cuckoo, and a group of Pearl-breasted Swallows frolicked nearby. A Spotted Dikkop put in a brief appearance, before a stop at a roadside stand of reeds provided a number of good birds, including Little Rush and Lesser Swamp Warblers and all three species of Mousebird in close proximity. A handsome pair of Bokmakierie basked in the evening light. On the run in to Cape Town a Peregrine Falcon flew alongside us in the twilight, and three days of rewarding birding drew to a close.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Seth Musker.

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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