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Western Cape Tour, Hottentots Holland Trip Report - 14 November 2014

Bird Highlights: Cape Sugarbird, Cape Rockjumper, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Verreaux's Eagle, Cape Grassbird, African Penguin, Crowned Cormorant, Victorin's Warbler, Cape Rock Thrush, Giant Kingfisher

Mammals and reptile species: Southern Right Whale, Rock Hyrax, Cape Girdled Lizard

Detailed Trip Report

After collecting Stephen from his hotel in the city centre, we made our way to Frank's hotel near Stellenbosch, picking up African Darter in a wetland near the hotel. We then headed east along the coastal road to our first stop, the small village of Rooiels. En route, we had a single Verreaux's Eagle overhead. We were greeted by strong winds and the birding was initially rather slow. Nonetheless, we ticked Orange-breasted Sunbird, Grey-backed Cisticola, Rock Martin, Neddicky and Cape Bunting, with many of the birds allowing us to approach very close as they seemed to avoid flying in the strong gusts, preferring the shelter of the bushes. Cape Rockjumpers could be heard calling high up on the slopes near the base of the cliffs, but no amount of scanning with our binoculars could pick out any movement.

Further along, we had good views of Cape Sugarbird on a flowering conebush (Leucospermum). We also encountered a pair of Cape Rock Thrush before we picked out our first Cape Rockjumpers amongst the boulder strewn slopes. We had great views of a male and female and were able to view them for quite some time as they darted from boulder to boulder, occasionally disappearing into the vegetation to forage before reappearing, often a fair distance from where they were last seen. On our return to the car park, we had fantastic views of a calling Cape Grassbird which allowed us to approach to within arm's length and even then continued to call calmly, allowing excellent photographic opportunities.

Our next stop was Stony Point in Betty's Bay. The wind had really picked up by this stage and Hartlaub's and Kelp Gulls whizzed around with Swift Terns. The first cormorant species we encountered was Crowned Cormorant, with two individuals resting on the wall of the concrete jetty near the entrance to the penguin colony. Entering the colony, we had great views of the endangered African Penguin at all stages of moult. The rocks also harboured several cormorant species and we were able to pick out a few breeding Bank Cormorants amongst the more numerous Cape and White-breasted Cormorants, as well as more Crowned Cormorants. Non-avian highlights included a breaching Southern Right Whale and many Rock Hyraxes and Cape Girdled Lizards darting about on the rocks.

We made our way to the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden where we had a delicious lunch. The weather began to worsen, with the promised rain seeming imminent. With this in mind, we made our way towards the kloof with hopes of catching up with the notoriously skulky Victorin's Warbler, a species which we missed at Rooiels. We soon heard one individual calling on the slopes and made our way up the zig-zag path to intercept it. After many minutes of scanning, listening and waiting, we had good but brief views of the bird as it darted out of the dense undergrowth, pausing briefly in the open before disappearing.

Making our way back through the garden, the birding seemed to quieten down and we could see the rain making its way towards us out on the sea. We had Cape Canary, a juvenile Cape Rock Thrush and a nesting Karoo Prinia before making our way along the Disa Kloof path where we heard Giant Kingfisher and saw a family of African Black Duck. Soon, the rain began to pour down and we made our hasty way back to the car where we consolidated what we had seen so far. The weather did not show any promise of improving, so we decided to call it a day and headed back to Cape Town, a bit damp but happy after a successful day's birding.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Campbell Fleming.

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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