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Western Cape Tour, Hottentots Holland Trip Report - 24 November 2014

Bird Highlights: Cape Rockjumper, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird,Cape Grassbird, African Penguin, Karoo Prinia, Cape Grassbird, Victorin's Warbler, Neddicky, Cape Rock Thrush, Verreaux's Eagle and many more..

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

Detailed Trip Report

After collecting Mike from his hotel in the city, we headed east across False Bay toward the rugged coast and mountain vistas of Hottentots Holland, our primary aim: to photograph Cape Rockjumper. We made good time and reached our first stop, the coastal village of Rooiels, before the day's predicted wind started to blow. Immediately, we were greeted by the metallic jangling of Cape Sugarbird and the raucous screaming of a large flock of Alpine Swifts from the cliffs above us. We soon picked us the usual denizens of the Rooiels fynbos including Orange-breasted Sunbird, Karoo Prinia, Cape Grassbird, Grey-backed Cisticola and Cape Bunting. The soft calls of Cape Siskin were an almost constant accompaniment to our walk along the coastal road as they flitted back and forth along the slopes and we were treated to quality views of a small group foraging at the roadside.

A family of Cape Rock Thrush, two adults and two juveniles, provided fantastic entertainment as they moved from their roost in the chimney of one of the houses off the road to an overhead telephone line. While watching the Rock Thrushes, the piercing call of a Victorin's Warbler grabbed our attention. Although Mike had managed to locate this species on his own at a different location the previous day, we decided to pursue the call as Mike was keen to get better photographs. We cast our eyes over the dense fynbos, expecting the search for this notorious skulker to be long and difficult. Imagine our surprise then when we were met with a Victorin's Warbler calling right out in the open from the top of a completely leafless shrub! We inched closer, with the warbler completely unperturbed by our presence as it called in the soft morning light.

In the end, it took a rather territorial Neddicky to drive the Victorin's Warbler off its exposed perch, although it returned and resumed its incessant calling a few minutes later. Moving on, we began to focus our attention on the boulder strewn slopes, our eyes snapping onto any movement and our ears listening out for fluty Cape Rockjumper calls. Soon enough we heard what we were after and with quite some effort, we were able to locate a pair of Cape Rockjumpers, which offered fantastic views as they called to one another and even made their way toward us. After a few minutes of watching the pair and manoeuvring ourselves such that the sun was at our backs, we were startled by the calls of another group of Rockjumpers 10 or so metres behind us!

We continued along the road, buoyed by our fantastic views of the Rockjumpers. A Verreaux's Eagle pursued by a pair of loudly cawing White-necked Ravens grabbed our attention. After chasing off the eagle, the pair of Ravens diverted their attention to a particular spot on the cliffs and, scanning with our binoculars, we were able to pick out what must have been the Eagle's nest. After a few minutes dive-bombing the nest, the Ravens grew bored and wheeled off. Our last notable sighting before leaving Rooiels was a Peregrine Falcon, and a Small Grey Mongoose darting out of the car-park, pursued by a pair of angry Karoo Prinias.

Our next stop was the Stony Point penguin colony in Betty's Bay, where we had good views of African Penguins at all stages of life and moult. The cormorant roost held large numbers of Cape and White-breasted Cormorants, with smaller numbers of Bank and Crowned Cormorants scattered amongst them. Non-avian highlights included the Rock Hyraxes, Cape Girdled Lizards and Southern Rock Agamas that shared the rocks with the Penguins.

We made our way to the other side of Betty's Bay and the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, where we took a break for lunch before continuing birding. We picked up Black Saw-wing and African Paradise Flycatcher in the vicinity of the restaurant. We made a beeline for Leopard's Kloof, with good views of a large flock of Cape Canaries, including some heavily streaked juveniles, on the way. The kloof itself was very quiet, the silence only broken by the occasional Olive Thrush and the soft churring of a Cape Batis. On our way out, we heard the harsh calls of Ground Woodpecker, frustratingly out of our reach on the steep slopes above the thickly forested kloof.

Disa Kloof was more rewarding. Sombre Greenbul was seen well, calling overhead and we were also treated to fantastic views of Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, darting about in the tangled branches. While watching the Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, we also saw an African Paradise Flycatcher on its tiny, cup-shaped nest.

Leaving Betty's Bay, we continued east to Rooisand Nature Reserve on the Bot River lagoon. Unfortunately, the water levels were very low. We had a multitude of African Pipits along the boardwalk, and a Pied Kingfisher hovering over the water. From the hide, we had Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Shoveller, Little and Cattle Egrets and Sacred Ibis.

On our way back to Cape Town, we decided to make another stop at Rooiels to try and catch the evening light. Unfortunately, the wind had picked up and the birding was not nearly as exciting as it had been in the morning. Still, we had good views of Cape Siskin before continuing on back to Cape Town after a successful and enjoyable 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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