Birding Africa
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Western Cape Tour, Hottentots Holland & West Coast, 23 September 2011

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Itinerary: We birded at Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, Rooi Els, Stoney Point, Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, Strandfontein Waste Water Treatment Works.

Detailed Trip Report

Jon and I met at his V&A Waterfront hotel early on Friday, enabling us to escape from the centre of Cape Town before the morning rush hour traffic set in. We headed east out of the city; the trip across the Cape Flats being relatively uneventful except for picking up Indian House Crow near the airport. On the eastern side of the City we turned off towards the coast and were soon travelling along the False Bay coastline. The mountains above us were the Kogelberg Mountains, with their incredibly high floral diversity.

We stopped at a roadside lay-by turning up Cape Robin-chat, Cape Bunting and Orange-breasted Sunbird, whilst a pair of Cape Batis responded out of an indigenous forest patch. After travelling this magnificent scenic drive we came to the village of Rooiels where we walked the coastal strip looking for Cape Rockjumper. We heard these birds calling but they failed to put in an appearance. We did however have great views of a pair of Verreaux’s Eagle that put down on a nest high on the over hanging mountain cliff. Nearby were White-necked Ravens, which were joined by Peregrine Falcon and Rock Kestrels hanging in the mountain updrafts. Further to this we found Rock Martin, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cape Rock-Thrush, Orange-breasted and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds along the coastal track. A particularly vocal Cape Grassbird gave us a fine display and photographic opportunity.

We moved on to the Stoney Point penguin colony in Betty’s Bay. This colony of African Penguins is one of the few mainland penguin colonies that have become established due to the absence of traditional historical predators such as lion, hyena and leopard that used roam the mainland. On the way there we picked up Cape Spurfowl and at the parking area found Cape Weaver. On the walk down to the penguin colony we found the plump Rock Hyrax, which lay around the rocks like sunning door mats. At the Stoney Point itself, we found Southern Boubou and then a couple of hundred African Penguins covering the shore line, with adult and young birds alike. The adjacent cormorant colony was well attended, with White-breasted, Cape, Bank and Crowned Cormorants. Some birds were breeding and these birds allowed us to put a scope on them and work through the identification differences between the species.

Looking out to sea there were the usual Cape and Hartlaub’s Gulls, with a surprise viewing of Shy Albatross and a White-chinned Petrel.

Leaving Stoney Point we travelled on to the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, which has a mixture of cultivated flower beds of the local flora as well as natural fynbos and forested ravines. At the entrance we heard Sombre Greenbul, but it took a while to connect with this species. Cape White-eye, Olive Thrush, Yellow Bishop and Cape Bulbul met us along the paths, along with tame and confiding Cape Robin-chat.

We walked through the lower garden, hearing Malachite Sunbird which gave only a brief view of the emerald green body of the male. Further up the garden, we stumbled across a Victorin’s Warbler which was unusually some distance away from water. A young Pin-tailed Whydah made an appearance with a calling Southern Boubou Shrike. In the Disa Gorge we picked up a tame and confiding Dusky Flycatcher and Cape Batis before heading down for some lunch at the restaurant. After lunch we headed back to Cape Town, picking up Steppe Buzzard and Yellow-billed Kite before reaching the Strandfontein Sewage Treatment Works on the Cape Flats.

Here we found a wide variety of water birds; amongst the water fowl we soon found Cape Teal, Cape Shoveller, Southern Pochard, Yellow-billed Duck, Red- billed Teal and Maccoa Duck. Great-crested, Black- necked and Little Grebe’s were on the pans in large numbers, whilst several hundred Greater Flamingos put on a fine display, along a smaller matching flock of Black-winged Stilt. African Purple Swamphen, Red-knobbed Coot and Common Moorhen patrolled the shoreline, with Glossy and Sacred Ibis competing for space with extensive flocks of Cape and Hartlaub’s Gulls.

Being late in the afternoon we headed back into Cape Town, again avoiding the traffic and so ending a great day out!

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

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Dalton Gibbs.

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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