Western Cape Trip report: Hottentot's Holland - 09 February 2015
Highlights: following a pair of Cape Rockjumper at Rooi Els as they foraged among the boulders, Crowned and Bank Cormorants at Stoney Point, a beautiful pair of Cape Batis at Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, and excellent scope views of Hottentot Teal at Strandfontein Water Works.
I met Ros at her accommodation in Hout Bay and we headed out towards the eastern side of False Bay on a day of relatively cool weather. Our first stop was the seaside village of Rooi Els. Sunbirds were out in full strength, with Malachite being the most dominant, the males all in their odd eclipse plumage, followed by the ever-boisterous Orange-breasted Sunbird. Bringing up the rear, one or two very quiet Southern Double-collared Sunbirds flitted about nervously. A few Cape Sugarbirds were about, and we suddenly spotted the tail feathers of a male poking out from behind some foliage of a Protea bush. He turned out to be fast asleep but stirred as we approached, shaking himself awake and perching atop the bush to inspect us.
A way off the path a number of birds had gathered and seemed very agitated, perhaps in response to a snake. Among the sunbirds and Sugarbirds, these included Cape Weaver and Cape Robin-chat. Otherwise Rooi Els was very quiet, and we slowly added a few more birds, including Rock Martin and Cape Bunting, while Victorin's Warbler and Cape Grassbird called from upslope but refused to be seen. All of a sudden a pair of Cape Rockjumpers materialised on a nearby boulder, and began heading back the way we had come. We stayed with them for a good 20 minutes as they foraged in their deliberate manner among the boulders and surrounding vegetation, getting lots of great views in the process.
Moving on, we headed to Stoney Point, where we were greeted by a single Crowned Cormorant among a few Cape Cormorants on the breakwater. Further on we enjoyed watching the African Penguins, including a pair affectionately allopreening. We added Bank and White-breasted Cormorants at the colony, many of the latter engaging in gular fluttering, a peculiar technique that these and other birds use for staying cool in hot weather.
African Penguins at Stoney Point
At Harold Porter we wandered the gardens for a bit, picking up Familiar Chat, Black Saw-wing and White-rumped Swift on the way up towards Disa Kloof. Here we found a pair of very confiding Cape Batis, and marvelled at their handsomeness. Out at sea we spotted a large flock of Cape Gannets plunging into the water to feed, and later also spotted a large group of dolphins, but couldn't identify them even through the scope due to the significant heat-haze. Sadly the gardens were very quiet otherwise, and so after lunch we decided to make our way back towards Cape Town. On the way we spotted a small group of Bottlenose Dolphins apparently feeding close to shore.
Our last port of call was Strandfontein, where Greater Flamingos were present en masse. We found a single male Maccoa Duck hugging the reeds and had good scope views, and also appreciated many of the other waterfowl, including Cape and Red-billed Teals, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Shoveler and Great Crested and Little Grebes. Later we had excellent views of Pied Avocet and were reminded of how extraordinary their bills are. Other good birds included African Purple Swamphen and Southern Pochard, as well as a pair of Hottentot Teals resting up quietly on the edge of a reed-bed. We enjoyed excellent views of this petite and very handsome duck, before deciding to call it a day. On the way out we had a couple of Brimstone Canaries, before Ros spotted a pair of Spotted Thick-knees with a downy chick in tow.
Overall it was a very enjoyable day's birding notable for a number of wonderful sightings.
A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Seth Musker.
For a full list of species from this trip, please contact us.
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.
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.
Only a low level of fitness is required.
Throughout the year.
Moderate; can be warm in summer and chilly in winter.
A good standard of accommodation in guest houses, lodges and small hotels.
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.