Birding Africa
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Western Cape Tour, Cape Peninsula, 11 April 2011

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Itinerary: Cape Peninsula - Kirstenbosch, Rondvlei, Strandfontein, Simon's Town, Kommetjie

Highlight bird species:Klaas's Cuckoo, Southern Double-collared and Orange-breasted Sunbirds, Cape Sugarbirds, Yellow Canary, Malachite Kingfisher, Purple Swamp-hen, Cape Grassbird, Little Bittern, Goliath heron, African Penguins and more...

Mammal and reptile species: Small Grey Mongoose, Chacma Baboons, Girdled Lizard and Angulate Tortoise

Total number of species recorded: 88

Detailed Trip Report

On Monday morning four clients from as far afield as UK, USA, Canada and Australia met up for a guided Birding Africa day trip of the Cape Peninsula. It was already a pleasantly warm day by the time we arrived at our first birding spot, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The first bird we spotted was a most obliging male Cape Batis and the next couple of hours in the gardens were most profitable.

Klaas's Cuckoo photographed by Otto Schmidt on a Birding Africa Day Trip
Klaas's Cuckoo © Otto Schmidt

Southern Double-collared and Orange-breasted Sunbirds were common, and two Malachite Sunbirds were seen. Cape Sugarbirds proved a little more difficult, but were eventually located above the reservoir. Cape, Brimstone and Forest Canary were added, and a surprise was a lovely male Yellow Canary. Other regulars such as Cape Spurfowl, African Dusky Flycatcher, Olive Thrush and Cape Robin-Chat all showed well, and overhead we added Black Swift and Black Saw-wing. The biggest surprise however was two Klaas's Cuckoo males in the same bush and fairly unperturbed by our presence. The Spotted Eagle Owls could unfortunately not be located. Reptiles added were Girdled Lizard and Angulate Tortoise.

Malachite Kingfisher by Otto Schmidt on a Birding Africa Day Tour
Malachite Kingfisher © Otto Schmidt

After a stop to stock up on liquid refreshment , we headed to Rondevlei Nature Reserve. The water-level at the hides was quite low, but we notched up some good birds such as Malachite Kingfisher, Purple Swamp-hen and Cape Grassbird. Both Lesser Swamp and Little Rush Warblers were heard and seen, and we had good but brief views of Little Bittern. Some Barn Swallows were still about, and many Brown-throated Martins flew overhead. A highlight was spotting the Goliath Heron from one of the towers, and Small Grey Mongoose was seen on the pathways.

Little Bittern on a Birding Africa day trip © Otto Schmidt
Little Bittern © Otto Schmidt

Purple Swamp-hen © Otto Schmidt

From Rondevlei we headed across to Strandfontein where most of the expected species were added. The three ibises, Black-headed Heron and Grey Heron were common and Hottentot Teal, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Caspian Tern, and Macoa Duck were nice birds to see. Common Ringed Plover and Ruff were still about in small numbers, and the Greater Flamingo, White Pelican, Spur-winged Goose, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and other waterbirds kept the interest level high. No African Marsh-Harrier was about, possibly because of the almost totally windless conditions.

With time marching on, we headed down the Peninsula to Simon's Town where the African Penguins were a delight before we broke for a fairly late lunch at Boulders. Continuing past Smitswinkel's Bay we came across two Chacma Baboons on the road, much appreciated by all, and we then enjoyed the great views along the coast past Misty Cliffs. A stop above the Slangkop lighthouse added Southern Boubou and Speckled Mousebird to the list and made for great photographs of the sea-views.

There was not much activity at Kommetjie and the light was fading, so we headed back along Chapman's Peak and enjoyed a great sunset and balmy conditions before returning to town by about 19h30. Although our raptor count was pretty low, with just Black-shouldered Kite and Rock Kestrel, we nevertheless had a successful day with a total of 88 species.

Sunset over Atlantic ocean from Kommetjie © Otto Schmidt
Atmospheric sunset over the Atlantic ocean as viewed from Kommetjie © Otto Schmidt

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

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Otto Schmidt

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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