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.
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
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
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
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.