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.
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.