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Western Cape: Hottentots Holland and Agulhas Plains
Trip Report: 11 & 12 September 2017

Highlights included: Striped Flufftail, Black Harrier, Little Ringed Plover, Denham's Bustard, Blue Crane, Cape Rockjumper, Ground Woodpecker, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Victorin's Warbler, Cape Rock-Thrush, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin

Number of bird species: 102 with additional 3 for the 'heard only' list

Victorin's Warbler © Dominic Rollinson
Victorin's Warbler

Detailed Trip Report

The purpose of this trip was to find two species which had always eluded our client Peter Rosewarne. These two species were both notorious skulkers; Hottentot Buttonquail and Striped Flufftail.

Day One
We left early before sunrise and headed out east. The first stop was a location where I had previously seen and heard Striped Flufftails at this time of the year. It took a while until we heard a distant bird making its ki-ki-ki call. We moved a bit closer and heard another call much closer by. As we walked closer to this bird, getting ready to try lure the bird out, we were lucky enough to flush a male Striped Flufftail from right under our noses. Not the greatest views ever but good enough. Peter still needed photos of Victorin's Warbler which did show briefly but not well enough to get any decent photos.

Next stop was Sandberg Nature Reserve to try for Common Quail and got good views of a few Denham's Bustards and Black Harriers.

From here we went into the Agulhas Plains which gave us great views of a juvenile Agulhas Long-billed Lark, a few displaying Blue Cranes and more Bustards, before we headed back to Hermanus for the night. The day ended with a great sighting of Caracal on our way home from dinner!

Day Two
Another early start and we decided to try Arabella Country Estate this time for the buttonquails. En route to Arabella we popped in briefly to Vermont Pan where South Africa's second ever Little Ringed Plover had been located the previous day. On arriving at the twitch we were pointed out the bird which provided good scope views before we decided to hastily move on to find the big target of the day. Despite another good effort walking through the veld on the edge of the Bot River estuary, we were unable to find any Hottentot Buttonquail and again had to concede defeat.

We decided to console ourselves and try find a few more birds which Peter still needed to photograph. We stopped near Betty's Bay and had great views of Victorin's Warbler before moving on to Rooi Els. After walking below the slopes for a while we got another target bird; a pair of Ground Woodpeckers which were very approachable. The next target bird, Sentinel Rock Thrush, however would not show itself today despite many sightings of Cape Rock Thrush. Other good birds here included Cape Rockjumper, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted and Malachite Sunbird, Cape Bunting, Familiar Chat, Grey-backed Cisticola, Neddicky and Cape Grassbird. We decided to head back to Cape Town from here. We had found one of the big targets, but the buttonquails would have to wait for another time.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Dominic Rollinson.

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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