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Western Cape Trip Report: Cape Peninsula - 25 January 2015

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Bird highlights: African Black Oystercatcher, Pied Kingfisher, Cape Sugarbird, Malachite, Southern Double-collared and Orange-breasted Sunbird, African Dusky Flycatcher, Forrest Buzzard, Cape and Crowned Cormorant, Grey Heron, Karoo Prinia, Red-faced Mousebird, African Penguins, Water and spotted Thick-knees, Spotted Eagle Owl, Zitting and Levaillant's Cisticola.

Orange-breasted Sunbird © Otto Schmidt during a Birding Africa Cape Peninsula day trip
Perched atop a protea flower, a beautiful Orange-breasted Sunbird, shimmers in the morning sunlight.

Detailed Trip Report

I collected Julie and Dave from their Camps Bay accommodation at 07h00 on Sunday, 25 January 2015 for a Cape Peninsula day trip.

Our first stop was on the coastline at Green Point, but the heavy mist of the previous day was still about and the tide was high, so birds were few and far between. Nevertheless we ticked off the two common gull species and had African Black Oystercatcher and Swift Tern ghosting by. Driving alongside the Green Point Urban Park, we were rather surprised to find a Pied Kingfisher on a vacant lot filled with construction machinery.

African Black Oystercatchers, Stilts & Teal on a Cape Peninsula day trip © Otto Schmidt
African Black Oystercatchers, with Stilts and a Teal.

We arrived at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens at the 08h00 opening time and headed up the main avenue. Here the weather was clear and indications were that it would be very warm. We soon encountered the more common birds such as Cape White-eye and Southern Double-collared Sunbird, and a mixed group of Common and Swee waxbills was good to see. In the Protea Gardens we had excellent views of Orange-breasted Sunbirds and Cape Sugarbirds, a dueting pair of Southern Boubous was attracting several species such as Cape Batis and Sombre Greenbul and an African Dusky Flycatcher was very confiding.

African Dusky Flycatcher seen on a Birding Africa Cape Peninsula day trip © Otto Schmidt
African Dusky Flycatcher

Overhead we had an African Harrier-Hawk and a brief view of a Forest Buzzard. We crossed over the Boomslang aerial boardwalk and heard a Klaas's Cuckoo calling loudly from one end but were not able to spot it. Heading down the gardens we came across a small party of Forest Canary and near the exit a mixed group of Alpine and Little Swifts that also contained Barn Swallows and a couple of Black Sawwings.

It was now quite warm as we headed over Ou Kaapse Weg towards Kommetjie. On the Atlantic side the mist had cleared and it was pleasantly cool. At Kommetjie the small roost of Swift Terns held one Sandwich Tern and White-breasted, Cape and Crowned Cormorants were present on the rocks together with Grey Heron, Little Egret and African Sacred and Hadeda Ibis. There was no activity out at sea, but bush-birds such as Karoo Prinia, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Fiscal Flycatcher, Malachite Sunbird and Red-faced Mousebird were seen, while overhead we added White-rumped Swift and Greater Striped Swallow.

We continued down the Atlantic coastline enjoying the lovely scenery, then stopped at Boulders to view the African Penguins and have a late lunch. Thereafter we continued along the False Bay coastline and over Boyes Drive to Strandfontein Sewage Works, our last major destination for the day.

Flamingos with Table Mountain backdrop © Otto Schmidt
Flamingos fly overhead against the backdrop of Table Mountain and Devil's Peak.

As always, Strandfontein did not disappoint and the majestic Greater Flamingos, Great White Pelicans and a good variety of waterbirds kept us going, although a few of the expected species such as Southern Pochard and Maccoa Duck were not seen. There were also no migrant waders on show, but we did spot a pair of Water Thick-knees soon after our arrival, and a pair of Spotted Thick-knees with two small chicks was seen on our way out. A Spotted Eagle-Owl was present in the dunes, many Barn Swallows and Brown-throated Martins were feeding over the pans and bush and waterside birds such as African Pipit, Zitting and Levaillant's Cisticola and Lesser Swamp-Warbler were noted.

Brown-throated Martin © Otto Schmidt
Brown-throated Martin

We eventually left the Works shortly after 18h00 and were back in Camps Bay a little before 19h00 after an enjoyable and fairly productive birding day out. Our final species total was 88, two of which were heard only.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Otto Schmidt.

For a full list of species from this trip, please
contact us.

Cape Sugarbird seen at Kirstenbosch during a Birding Africa day trip © Otto Schmidt
Cape Sugarbird

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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