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Western Cape: Hottentots Holland Trip Report - 2 August 2015

Highlights included: Cape Rockjumper, Cape Siskin, Spotted Eagle-Owl, Malachite, Orange-breasted and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, Karoo Prinias, Cape Sugarbird, Ground Woodpecker, Cape and Sentinel Rock Thrush, Cape Clapper Lark AND Hottentots Buttonquail.

Detailed Trip Report

A complete lack of traffic meant I arrived at Jay and Amy's accommodation in Muizenberg slightly earlier than expected. This allowed me a little time to explore the neighbourhood, which turned out to be rather fruitful as a cacophony of agitated calls drew my attention to a Spotted Eagle-owl. After meeting Jay and Amy, I brought them to the area where I had seen the owl and we soon located it in a nearby tree, being mobbed by Cape White-eyes, Southern Double-collared and Malachite Sunbirds and Cape Bulbuls.

Jay and Amy had been on a 2 month adventure in Africa, visiting Kenya, Madagascar and South Africa. They had already caught up with some of the usual specials encountered on a Hottentots Holland day trips, so the primary targets for the day were Cape Rockjumper and Cape Siskin. There was not a single cloud in sight as we set off, and it looked like we were in for hot, sunny day. We made our way eastwards along the N2 to our first stop at sir Lowry's pass. The thicker vegetation in the wet areas near the car park yielded Yellow Bishop as well as Cape Sugarbird.

Turning upslope, we encountered a particularly obliging Orange-breasted Sunbird, which allowed excellent photographic opportunities. Upon arriving at the cannons, we were greeted by a flock of 50+ Alpine Swifts, with a few descending low enough that their wings could be heard slicing through the air. From the cannons, we scrambled southwards. The slopes were relatively quiet except for a pair of Cape Rock Thrush and the occasional Neddicky. Pausing in a likely looking spot to scan for Rockjumpers, we witnessed a flock of Feral Pigeons pursued by a Peregrine Falcon. One bird became separated from the rest of the flock, immediately becoming the target of the falcon. We didn't witness the conclusion of the chase as both birds disappeared behind a ridge. Cape Rockjumper proved relatively difficult, but after some time and scrambling, we encountered a pair on the rocky slopes near the radio mast.

After satisfying ourselves with views of these beautiful birds, we re-traced our steps to look for Cape Siskin. We turned up plenty of Orange-breasted Sunbirds and Karoo Prinias, but no Siskins, so we decided to push on and try other sites.

Our next stop was the coastal village of Rooiels. Walking along the dirt road, highlights included a family of Cape Rock Thrush as well as a pair of Sentinel Rock Thrush that have been breeding in the area. Further along, we had excellent views of a lone and very vocal Ground Woodpecker on one of the larger boulders at the roadside. A short distance further, we encountered our second group of Cape Rockjumpers for the day. They were very obliging, allowing excellent views and even dustbathing in the road. Still no Siskins, however. Turning back in defeat, we scanned the roadside desperately on our way back to the vehicle and were eventually rewarded with great views a pair of Cape Siskin very close to the road.

Buoyed by our success, we headed to a site where Hottentot Buttonquail has been seen fairly reliably, although we knew that a sighting of this elusive endemic was far from guaranteed. To our surprise, we flushed a Hottentot Buttonquail right next to the track we were following before even reaching the site proper! Almost simultaneously, we flushed a Cape Clapper Lark. Further along, we flushed another Buttonquail! By this time, the sun was moving towards the mountains on the horizon and Jay took the opportunity to try photograph one of the male Malachite Sunbirds calling in the area. Soon afterwards, we headed home in high spirits after a very satisfying 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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