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Western Cape: Hottentot's Holland & West Coast Trip Report - 25 & 27 February 2014

Highlight bird species: Cape Rock-jumper, Victorin's Warbler, Black Harrier, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Sugarbird,
Orange-breasted Sunbird, African Penguin, African Fish-eagle, Cardinal Woodpecker, Maccoa Duck and more..

Total number of Species: 139

A Birding Africa day trip to the Hottentot's Holland Mountains © Ethan Kistler
Birding the Hottentot's Holland mountains

Detailed Trip Report

Day 1 - 25 February - Hottentot's Holland

After picking up Scottish birders Jim and Lynda from their hotel in Somerset West, we headed straight to Rooi-Els to target some local endemics. Despite the strong winds, we still managed to find a family group of five Ground Woodpeckers, enjoyed great views of Orange-breasted Sunbirds and Cape Sugarbirds as well as our main target for the day - a pair of Cape Rock-jumpers.

Ground Woodpecker seen on a Birding Africa day trip © Ethan Kistler
Ground Woodpeckers

Our next stop was Harold Porter, which was quite pleasant being sheltered from the winds. Here we observed a great flock of Blue-mantled Crested-flycatchers and African Paradise-flycatchers, and an Olive Woodpecker in its typical hangout tree. Other birds recorded include nine Swee Waxbills and two vocal Victorin's Warblers confiding to the thick underbrush across the creek.

At the Stoney Point African Penguin colony we added all four coastal cormorant species and many Cape Gannets that were visible offshore. We ended the day with a drive around the Strandfontein Sewage Works, which pushed our day list to 94 species. Highlights included Maccoa Duck, African Fish-eagle, two Orange-throated Longclaws and an unusual species for this location, two Terek Sandpipers.

Day 2 - 27 February - West Coast

After a successful Hottentot's Holland day trip two days prior, Jim and Lynda signed up for a second tour to visit the West Coast National Park. The main purpose of this trip was to see species not normally found closer to town with their main target being Black Harrier.

West Coast lagoon scenery © Ethan Kistler
West Coast lagoon scenery

After collecting Jim and Lynda in Somerset West, we headed straight to the Geelbek hide situated right on the Langebaan Lagoon. Timing is key and we timed our stop right at low tide, which provided excellent wader diversity! Before leaving the hide, we tallied 15 species of waders as well as Greater Flamingos, South African Shelducks, and a variety of herons and egrets.

Upon returning to the car, a Cardinal Woodpecker was actively working a tree right next to us.

After our fix of waders we birded the extensive strandveld for the rest of the morning targeting those species typically not found within Cape Town. Highlights include a noisy flock of Cape Penduline Tits, a very cooperative Long-billed Crombec, countless Chestnut-vented Tit-babblers [Warbler], and Karoo Scrub-robins coming within a metre of our feet!

At high tide we stopped at the Seeberg hide and enjoyed great views of Common Ringed, Kittlitz's, and White-fronted Plovers, as well as Caspian, Swift, Sandwich and Common Terns. A Lesser Flamingo amongst the much larger Greater Flamingos gave an indication of the difference in size.

After a successful day, we started working our way to the entrance gate but not before getting some of the most incredible views of Jim and Lynda's main target bird, Black Harrier, as it circled all around the vehicle hunting over the strandveld. A great finish to an excellent day birding the West Coast with 92 species for the day.

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

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Ethan Kistler

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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