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Western Cape Tour, Cape Peninsula, 18 October 2013

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Highlight bird species: African Black Oystercatcher, Southern Double-collared and Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Karoo Prinia, Southern Pochard, African Jocana, Purple Swamphen, Cape Grassbird, African Penguins, Pearl-breasted Swallow and more...

Mammal species: Southern Right Whale and dolphins

Total number of bird species recorded: 78 seen and 2 heard

Africana Jacana on a Birding Africa day trip © Otto Schmidt Greater Flamingo photographed on a Birding Africa day trip © Otto Schmidt
African Jacana and Greater Flamingo photographed on a Birding Africa day trip

Detailed Trip Report

I collected Erik and his daughter Eva from their lodging in the Bo-Kaap at 07h30 for a Cape Peninsula day trip. As we were already on the Atlantic coastline, we stopped along the Mouille Point seaboard, where, with the tide out, we found a small roost of Hartlaub's Gulls, Swift, Sandwich and Common terns. Also present were African Black Oystercatcher, the occasional Kelp Gull and White-breasted and Cape cormorants. A single Grey Heron was also spotted, and above the beach, Cape Canary and Cape Sparrow were feeding on seeding flower-heads. A school of dolphins was present in the bay.

We continued down the Atlantic coastline, through Hout Bay and along Chapman's Peak Drive towards Kommetjie, taking in the dramatic coastal scenery. At Kommetjie there was little additional in the way of coastal species apart from Little Egret fishing in the shallows and a few Cape Gannet diving off the coast. However, bush at Slangkop immediately produced a pair of Cape Grassbird collecting nesting material, Cape Bulbul, Cape Robin-Chat, Southern Double-collared Sunbird and Bokmakierie with Rock Kestrel and White-necked Raven overhead.

Pearl-breasted Swallow © Otto Schmidt
Pearl-breasted Swallow photographed on a Birding Africa day trip

We continued past Scarborough, with the southeaster now blowing quite strongly, and at Miller's Point a patch of proteas contained good numbers of Cape Sugarbird which were seen very well as was Orange-breasted Sunbird and Karoo Prinia. We competed with large numbers of other visitors to view the African Penguins at Boulders, had an early lunch at the Penguin Restaurant and then had great views of a breaching Southern Right Whale in the bay.

Continuing along the False Bay coastline, we had a brief but unproductive stop at Zandvlei before heading along to the Strandfontein Sewage Works. The water in the first pans was fairly rough. However, large numbers of Black-necked Grebes interspersed with Southern Pochard were present, with Greater Flamingo along the edges. On the tarred road leading into the works was a gull/tern roost with numbers of Hartlaub's Gull, the occasional Grey-headed Gull and both Swift and Sandwich Terns present, despite the birds being flushed every time a vehicle passed by.

Driving through the Works we notched up additional species with a good view of a Purple Swamphen, but the numbers of waterbirds such as Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and other duck species were lower than expected. Near the coast, a pair of African Shelduck was present, but there was no sign of Spur-winged Geese which had until recently been quite numerous. White-throated Swallow, African Pipit and Cape Longclaw were added along the road and a Common Sandpiper and a Common Greenshank were the only waders seen. On our way out we again stopped at the tern/gull roost, and were pleased to have a small White-winged Tern land amongst the very much larger Swift and Sandwich Terns.

White-winged tern © Otto Schmidt on a Birding Africa tour
White-winged Tern

Our last destination was the Philippi Wetlands which provided some good birding although the wind here was still very strong. White-faced Duck was added, and well as Lesser Flamingo, and the African Jacana which had been present there for some time was seen well. Kittlitz's and Three-banded Plovers were about, as was an additional Grey-headed Gull and bush-birds included many Levaillant's Cisticola, Common Fiscal, Pin-tailed Whydah and numerous Red-capped Lark. Excellent views were had of Pearl-breasted Swallow and Brown-throated Martin was common.

We left the area a little after 17h30 and were back in town just after 18h00. It had been a fairly quiet day's birding, no doubt due to the strong wind throughout. This certainly kept many of the smaller species from perching up and being more visible and no doubt also contributed to Rock Kestrel being the only raptor seen during the day. The final species total was 80, with two of these heard only.

Grey-headed Gull © Otto Schmidt on a Birding Africa trip

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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