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Western Cape Tour: Hottentots Holland Trip Report - 21 November 2015

Bird Highlights: Maccoa Duck, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Bunting, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Grassbird, Cape Rock Thrush, Cape Siskin, Cape Rockjumper - notice a theme here?! - African Black Oystercatcher, Grey Heron, Karoo Prinia, Victorin's Warbler and others..

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

Detailed Trip Report

After meeting Guy and Verna in Lakeside, we headed east along Baden Powell drive, allowing good views of the breeding colony of Kelp Gulls in the adjacent dunes. En route to our first stop, the Strandfontein sewage works, we had good views of Black-headed Heron, both in flight and darting about in the tall grass adjacent to Zeekoevlei. We were also treated to a flock of Barn Swallows as well as Little and African Black Swifts wheeling about overhead. Zitting Cisticola was another good sighting before we moved on to the sewage works. The first pans held large numbers of Cape Teal, Black-necked and Little Grebe and Greater Flamingo as well as a few Maccoa Ducks. Unfortunately, it began to rain heavily a few minutes later. As the weather seemed unlikely to relent any time soon, we decided to push on to our next stop, the coastal village of Rooiels.

We were greeted by a very active group of Cape Sugarbirds, and soon picked up Cape Bunting and Grey-backed Cisticola. Not long afterwards, we encountered a very vocal and obliging Cape Grassbird. After a few minutes enjoying the grassbird, a sudden downpour forced us back to the car. We decided to remain in the car and indulge in a few snacks, hoping that the rain would move off shortly. Alarmingly, a rescue helicopter was seen hovering over the rocks off Rooiels and winching a poor soul that had been trapped in the angry seas to safety.

As we’d hoped, the rain let up after a few minutes. We emerged from the car to excellent views of a male Cape Rock Thrush. After watching him sing for a few minutes, we moved on and picked up some very obliging Cape Buntings as well as Orange-breasted Sunbird, Yellow Bishop and great views of a Neddicky. Cape Siskin gave us trouble early on, calling from well up the slope and mostly obscured by rocks and foliage, only popping up briefly as they flitted about. However, as we walked along the coastal path we had several excellent encounters with small groups of them, including a particularly obliging juvenile, calling plaintively in the open.

The star of the show was the Cape Rockjumper, which we encountered twice during our time at Rooiels. Initially, we had a single male, calling from well upslope. Our second encounter was a little more exciting, with three birds chasing each other from boulder to boulder and strutting about with their tails fanned. We then focussed our efforts on Ground Woodpecker, scanning the slopes carefully and listening out for their nasal calls. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to locate any.

Our next stop was Stony Point in Betty's Bay. After grabbing take-away coffees, we decided to explore the rocky shores around the corner on the opposite end of the small bay from the penguin colony. This was rewarding, as we encountered four African Black Oystercatchers and a single Crowned Cormorant foraging in the relatively sheltered pools between the rocks and the waves. We were lucky to encounter this bird where we did as it was, rather unusually, absent from the cormorant roost at Stony Point. Cape, Bank and White-breasted Cormorants were present in abundance at the cormorant roost, with a single Grey Heron amongst them. African Penguins of all stages of life and moult were present, including some very grumpy-looking moulting adults. We also had three Cape Gannets gliding over the gently surging swell. Non-avian entertainment included Rock Hyrax as well as Southern Rock Agama and Cape Girdled Lizard

We enjoyed a quick lunch at the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, during which we saw an African Paradise Flycatcher (which Guy unfortunately missed out on). After lunch, we made our way towards Leopard's Kloof, picking up Cape Canary, Cape Robin-chat, Karoo Prinia, Olive Thrush, White-rumped Swift, Black Saw-wing, Greater Striped Swallow and Familiar Chat. Just before the Leopard's Kloof gate, we heard a Victorin's Warbler calling from somewhere up the slope. We made our way up the slope toward the source of the call and were rewarded with several good views of the single warbler as it made its way through the dense undergrowth in a broad circle around us, popping up intermittently to call from an exposed perch. As we made our way back through the garden, we picked up Brimstone Canary before setting off homeward. The rains had left the air crisp and clear, so we had breath-taking views out across the bay, with the sun setting as we drove along the coastal R42.

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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