First time visitors to Africa, Linda and Eileen, joined Birding Africa guide Nick Fordyce for a day of birding the Cape Peninsula. After a short jetlag-induced delay, the first stop was the spectacular Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The gardens were full of life and the group were barely through the gate when they encountered the first birds of the day. A mixed flock of Cape White-eyes, Cape Bulbuls and Karoo Prinias were spotted moving from near Rycroft gate to the protea stands that lined the first pathway leading into the gardens. The bird party was soon joined by a very obliging Cape Robin-Chat which walked along the pathway right in front of the birders. It wasn't long before the numerous flowering plants of the gardens brought in the first group of Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, much to the delight of Linda and Eileen.
Overhead there were lots of birds making appearances too. Hadeda Ibises were the first to pass over, making their typically loud calls and they were followed by two White-necked Ravens which were seen flying near Devil's Peak and then, a real highlight, a low flying African Goshawk which disappeared into a dense stand of trees.
Further along, in the protea gardens and on the lawns, a great variety of other fynbos species were seen including Cape Spurfowl, Cape Bulbul and an Orange-breasted Sunbird. Near the top of the gardens there were excellent sightings of a large group of Red-winged Starlings who were feeding along with Cape White-eyes and Karoo Prinias. Also near the top of the gardens, some of the forest species were spotted including Forest Canary, African Dusky Flycatcher, Olive Thrush, Common Chaffinch and Sombre Greenbul. A single Striped Mouse(Rhabdomys pumilio) was also spotted in amongst the proteas.
The canopy walkway provided a great vantage point from which to see more birds and although there were large crowds at the gardens, the group still connected with more Olive Thrushes and Sombre Greenbuls in addition to multiple Egyptian Geese which could be seen foraging down on the lawns. The highlight of the gardens was probably a stunning male Cape Sugarbird which was perched conspicuously for the group. Near the entrance, in the camphor tree avenue the group connected with two roosting Spotted Eagle-Owls, a special way to conclude the morning's birding.
Following a light lunch, the group headed to Strandfontein sewage works. The intended plan had been to visit Cape Point after the Strandfontein, but such was the quality of birding on offer that the remainder of the day was spent birding at the 'works'. Eileen described it as the best birding she had ever experienced at a single site.
The road from the boom entrance to the works proper provided some good birding with Cape Sparrow, Pied Crows, Black-headed Heron, African Pipit and Zitting Cisticola all seen. The first pans, either side of the road leading up to the sewage works buildings, were rich with waterfowl. Cape Shoveler, Yellow Billed Duck, Southern Pochard, and Cape Teal were all abundant. Other numerous species included Red Knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, White-breasted Cormorant; and Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls.
The road verges had a few pairs of Blacksmith Lapwing, Speckled Pigeon and a small party of Common Starlings. A little further in, the road verge produced a pair of African Pipits and adjacent reed-beds provided Little Rush and Lesser Swamp Warblers. Levaillant's Cisticolas were spotted nearby as well as a single Grey-backed Cisticola. Cattle Egrets were seen foraging in slightly longer grass. Near the centre of the works, where the concrete canals run, Cape Wagtails and Cape Canaries were spotted. A Cape Longclaw was spotted more distantly and, unfortunately, didn't provide great views.
Closer to Muizenberg, where the sewage works push up against Baden Powell Drive, a single Spur-winged Goose was seen. Other good birds in this area included Greater Flamingo, a single White-backed Pelican, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Grey Headed Gull and Red-billed Teal. The large pan which is invaded by water hyacinth produced two raptors. First, a pair of Black-shouldered Kites which appeared to be taking a courtship flight, and then a foraging African Marsh Harrier. Some sharp eyes also revealed an African Swamphen which emerged into full view. In some of the other smaller pans Common Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coots, Kittlitz's Plovers and a single Common Greenshank were seen.
A final stop near the Red Cross Hospital, on the way back to Linda and Eileen's hotel, provided the ladies an opportunity to see six Spotted Thick-knees.
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.