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Western Cape: Hottentots Holland Trip Report - 28 October 2015

Highlights included: Cape Siskin, Cape Grassbird, Cape Rock-Thrush and Cape Rockjumper at Rooi Els; Brimstone Canary, African Paradise Flycatcher and more Cape Siskin at Harold Porter; and all four species of coastal Cormorant, in addition to African Penguin and an adorable litter of tiny Rock Hyrax at Stoney Point.

Total number of species: 52

Rock Hyrax with pup © Lenny & Carla Corin
Rock Hyrax with pup

Detailed Trip Report

The day began at Rooi Els in calm, clear conditions. Our first stop immediately provided decent looks at Cape Siskin - not a bad bird to start the day off with! The fynbos was alive with bird song, and we soon picked up Cape Sugarbird, Cape Grassbird, Cape Bulbul and Cape Bunting. A few Greater Striped Swallows broke the monotony of birds named after the Cape, but we got back on track with a Cape Rock-Thrush calling from atop a nearby house.

Continuing on foot, we picked up our first Orange-breasted Sunbirds, as well as Yellow Bishop, Grey-backed Cisticola, and White-necked Raven. Two specials were heard calling very distantly: Victorin’s Warbler and Ground Woodpecker. Careful scanning of the distant cliffs yielded no sign of the latter. However, we soon heard Cape Rockjumper calling from a similar area, and fortunately another group soon replied from further downslope, a little way on. Moving on, we did eventually spot a male Rockjumper perched quite distantly, but the glare from the sun meant that the views were less than satisfactory. We decided to move on and return later in the day for better looks.

At Harold Porter Botanical Gardens our ramblings produced a few new birds, including Brimstone Canary, Sombre Greenbul, African Paradise Flycatcher, Speckled Mousebird, Bar-throated Apalis, Neddicky, and much better views of Cape Siskin. We had an early lunch as a frontal system began to move in, cooling things down considerably.

Our next stop was Stoney Point, where many of the resident African Penguin were in various stages of moult, from the incredibly fat ones (seemingly double their normal size) to those in the latter stages: grey, grizzly and decidedly skinny. We enjoyed good looks at Cape, White-breasted, Bank and Crowned Cormorants, many of which were in fine breeding plumage. One of the highlights of the day then came in the form of a family of Rock Hyrax, or 'Dassie', including about 20 very young and absolutely adorable ‘pups’. We spent a delightful quarter of an hour watching their antics before finally tearing ourselves away, the thought of better views of the Rockjumpers giving us the necessary fortitude.

Our sacrifice was to prove worthwhile, as not long after arriving at Rooi Els we picked up a large dark shape swooping between the boulders – classic Cape Rockjumper. Although still quite distant, the birds were a little closer than before and the light was far better, and we enjoyed good scope views as a trio of these unusual birds foraged in the rougher fynbos. An added bonus was having further good looks at Cape Siskin. The drive home was uneventful, with the exception of a nice fly-by from a Jackal Buzzard.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Seth Musker.

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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