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Western Cape Tour, Hottentots Holland, 05 January 2011

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Areas Visited: Rooi Els, Stoney Point, Harold Porter Botanical garden, Strandfontein Sewage Works

Number of bird species: 82 (81 seen & 1 heard)

Highlights: Spotted Eagle Owls, Cape Rockjumper, African Paradise Flycatcher, Orange-breasted Sunbird, African Penguin and four species of cormorant.

Detailed Trip Report

I met Christian, Sharon and Jurg at Kirstenbosch Gardens at 06h30. Our first stop was in Fernwood where the pair of Spotted Eagle Owls was present in their favourite willow tree.

The trip out to Rooi Els was relatively uneventful, with the first Cape Sugarbirds showing in the gardens as we turned off the main road to the gravel parking area. At 08h30 it was already fairly warm as we headed off down the track. Birds started to appear with Cape Bunting, Orange- breasted Sunbird, Familiar Chat and Grey-backed Cisticola most prominent. Neddicky, Cape Grassbird and Victorin's Warbler were heard calling, and we eventually spotted the first two species.

After some time on the track, and near some large boulders, we noticed a pair of Cape Rockjumper heading down the slope. Some patience was rewarded and the birds were eventually seen close by, and they later crossed the path ahead of us heading towards the sea. We continued for a while adding birds such as Yellow Bishop before turning back. We then found the rockjumper pair heading back across the track and up the hillside, giving further good views. By now it was distinctly hot and we returned to the car and some cold water.

We continued to Harold Porter Botanical Gardens for lunch and a walk. It was an extremely hot summer's day (35°C in the shade!) but we eventually added the expected species such as Cape Spurfowl, Cape Batis, African Dusky Flycatcher, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Black Saw-wing and Sombre Greenbul. It was also very nice to see two groups of Red Disa (Disa uniflora) flowers on the damp cliff-edge near the Disa Kloof waterfall. On Table Mountain one generally expects these flowers to open several weeks later closer towards the end of January. Returning to the restaurant area, we were very surprised to see Reed Cormorant present at the large pond catch and subdue a large frog. This prey item presented the bird with quite a challenge, and it was still busy when we departed. Strangely, no Cape Rock-thrush was seen in the area, and there was no sign of the Ground Woodpeckers, Verreaux's Eagle or Jackal Buzzard.

The next stop was Stoney Point, where a pair of African Black Oystercatchers and a pair of White- fronted Plovers were added before we entered the colony proper. Large numbers of African Penguins were present on the rocks, many in moult, whilst groups of others were seen in the calm waters of the bay. All four species of marine cormorants were eventually seen, but only one juvenile Crowned Cormorant seemed to be about. The other three species were all at active nests. A Grey Heron was present amongst the other birds and a few Swift Terns flew over. Rock hyrax and girdled lizards were also common on the rocks in and around the colony.

The last stop was Strandfontein Sewage Works, where the temperature had plummeted from 36°C along Clarence Drive to a pleasant 23oC. Unfortunately, the 2nd boom at the main entrance is locked at 18h00, so we only had a relatively short time around the inner pans before having to head out. A number of birds were added to the list including a pair of Levaillant's Cisticola feeding chicks.

We returned to the Fernwood area at about 19h00, with a day-list of 82 species (81 seen and 1 heard).

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Otto Schmidt.

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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