Birding Africa
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Western Cape Tour, Rondevelei and Strandfontein, 18 December 2010

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Itinerary: We birded Cape Town's Rondevelei Nature Reserve and Strandfontein Waste Water Treatment Works.

Detailed Trip Report

We started at 08:00, a few hours after sunrise, and met at the entrance gate to Rondevlei Nature Reserve. Within the gate we found the usual bush birds; Cape Sparrow, Red-eyed Dove and Cape Bulbul whilst on the way down to waters edge. On the tea room porch we had views over the water and were able to get views of Lesser Swamp and Little-rush Warblers. These notoriously tricky species eventually gave us good views, along with a pair of Water Thick-knees with their chicks on the island opposite us. The reed bed dwelling species of Purple Heron and the more cryptic Little Bittern both made fly pasts to allow good views.

Down the path the now almost resident Goliath Heron to Rondevlei gave us a fly by as we set off down the path to visit the bird hides. The smaller bush birds such as Cape White-eye, Karoo Prinia, Cape Sparrow and Le Valliant’s Cisticola were about in the surrounding vegetation. At the hides we found various waterfowl: Cape Shoveller, Yellow-billed Duck, White-faced Whistling Duck and Red-billed Teal and had excellent views of Malachite Kingfisher next to the bird hide. In the reed bed colonies the breeding Sacred Ibis, Cattle & Little Egrets, Grey & Black-headed Herons moved to and from the reed beds to tend their chicks. Three African Marsh Harriers made an appearance over the reed beds.

Back from the path we took a boat trip out to have a closer look at the bird colonies. These consist of 11 water bird species that breed more or less communally, and constitute one of the larger water bird breeding colonies in the greater Cape Town area with several thousand birds in attendance. Also in attendance were a dozen Great White Pelican who come to raid the nests for chicks. Out on the boat we also had a sighting of one of the Rondevlei’s resident hippopotamus population.

Leaving Rondevlei we moved on to the Cape Flats Waste Water Treatment Works, commonly called Strandfontein by local birders. This area has 350 hectares of detention ponds and surrounding dunes. In the first pan we picked up all 3 grebe species; Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe and Great-crested Grebes.

Apart from those we had seen at Rondevlei, there were new waterfowl species for the trip such as Southern Pochard, Cape Teal and Maccoa Duck as well as the large Spur-wing Goose. Flocks of several hundred Greater Flamingo were present and made a beautiful spectacle when they flew past and alighted on the water. Black-winged Stilt and Pied Avocet were present in large numbers and covered large areas of some of the pans.

Before finishing for the day, at the lower pans we found African Grassveld Pipit and Cape Long-claw, whilst in the adjacent pond we found Kittlitz Plover & Ringed Plovers, with an attendant Wood Sandpiper.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Dalton Gibbs.

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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