Our guest, Andrew, joined us on the previous day for an excellent pelagic trip out of Simon's Town, with our sister company Cape Town Pelagics.
The second day started on a high note when we spotted a small pod of Long-beaked Common Dolphins, as we made our way down the picturesque eastern shoreline of False Bay. These dolphins were part of a "mega-pod" of a thousand plus dolphins recorded in the bay in the past few weeks.
We continued on to our first birding stop on the outskirts of the coastal town of Rooi Els. The vegetation on either side of the coastal track was very busy with dozens of male Orange-breasted Sunbirds calling and chasing each other, and competing for the eye of the numerous females looking on. The area also held good numbers of endemic Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, Cape Sugarbirds, and Cape Buntings.
We quickly got onto the first of several Cape Rockjumpers foraging low on the slopes above the path. As we worked our way along the path, we spotted a female warming up in the morning sun on the same rock as a family group of Ground Woodpeckers.
As we scanned the slopes and the coastal scrub, we added an excellent variety of other species typical for this area, including Familiar Chat, Cape Rock-thrush, Yellow Bishop, Neddicky, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cape Robin-chat, and Cape Weaver. Another notable highlight were the good numbers of Cape Siskins feeding in the area.
Our next destination was the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden. We birded our way through the lower gardens, getting good views of endemics species like Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape White-eye, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Batis and Cape Bulbul. The area also offered excellent views of more wide-spread species like Sombre Greenbul, Swee Waxbill, Cape Wagtail, Common Fiscal, African Dusky Flycatcher, and Black Saw-wing. The Disa Kloof dam was quiet apart from a single Reed Cormorant.
The highlight was undoubtedly a trio of Blue-mantled Crested Flycatchers calling and displaying in one of the denser stands of trees. Sightings of this species in these gardens are normally of birds moving in the upper canopies of the two forested valleys. The recent fire burnt or damaged many of their favoured areas, presumably forcing them into the lower gardens with their shorter trees. After an excellent lunch, we headed over to nearby Stony Point seabird colony. The reserve is home to one of two mainland colonies of the endangered African Penguin. These charismatic seabirds breed alongside four species of marine cormorants: Cape, Crowned, Bank, and White-breasted. With the Reed, seen at Harold Porter, we managed a "full house" on the Southern African cormorant species. The shoreline fringing the reserve held a few pairs of African Oystercatchers, several feeding flocks of Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls and Sacred Ibises, and the occasional Little Egret.
We turned our attention to the very large numbers of coastal and pelagic seabirds feeding close to shore. The most common seabirds were Cape Gannets, Great Crested Terns, Sooty and Cory's Shearwaters, and White-chinned Petrels. We also had distant sightings of Shy Albatross, Brown Skua and Parasitic Jaeger.
Our sea-watching was interrupted by a small pod of ORCAS presumably feeding on larger predatory fish targeting the same fish as the seabirds. Orcas are a very sought-after marine mammal off the coast of South Africa, and are only very rarely seen from the shore. We eagerly watched the pod moving into the melee of feeding seabirds, before disappearing in the larger swells: an amazing way to finish an excellent day of 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 or both.
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.
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 small hotels.
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.