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Itinerary: We visited key sites in the Western Cape including Paarl Mountain, Tanqua Karoo and De Hoop Nature Reserves.
Highlight species: Black Harrier, Giant Kingfisher, Malachite Sunbird, Secretary Bird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Spotted Eagle Owl, Blue Crane, Cape Vulture, Shy Albatross and many endemic species...
Mammals: Chacma Baboons, Klipspringer Antelope, Southern Right Whales, Eland, Bontebok and Cape Mountain Zebra
Day 1: Cape Town - Paarl - Bains Kloof - Ceres
We met in the afternoon at Cape Town airport; Patrick & Patrice having flown in from Upington.
Getting through the traffic and out of Cape Town was easy and we made our way to Paarl Mountain
We soon arrived and saw Protea Canary as we were getting out of the car. Also around were
spectacular Malachite Sunbird in breeding colours, Cape Canary and Cape Robin-chat. We also picked up Cape White-eye, White-backed Mousebird, Grey-backed Cisticola and Cape Bunting
before moving on towards Ceres. We traveled through the towns of Paarl and Wellington before going
up the Bains Kloof Pass. Near the top we stopped and picked up White-necked Raven and after some
work, Orange-breasted Sunbird, with Chacma Baboons close by on the road side. On the other
side of the pass we had good views of Cape Sugarbird and equally spectacular views of the snow
capped mountains on the mountain ranges ahead.
We continued on toward Ceres, stopping a few places en route, picking up Giant Kingfisher, African
Olive Pigeon and Cape Weaver. Night was beginning to fall as we arrived at the Village Guest
House in Ceres, and after a great dinner we settled down for the night.
Day 2: Ceres - Tanqua - Ceres
We had an early start and left with the sun still below the horizon. On Theronsberg Pass, just outside
of Ceres, we stopped to scan and found Black-shouldered Kite, Pied Starling, Red Bishop and
Jackal Buzzard. Further on we stopped at Eierkop in the Tanqua, having breakfast with a perfect
sunrise reflecting off the snow on the distant mountains. Here we picked up a Secretary Bird,
Familiar Chat, Karoo Chat and very tame Cape Buntings. We traveled on, arriving at
Peerboomskloof after finding our first Pale Chanting Goshawk for the day. At the kloof we had a
surprise Black Harrier soon after arriving, with Fairy Flycatcher in the hillside scrub. Our target species, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, didn't show itself, although we heard one calling over the ridge.
We had Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Masked Weaver and Bokmakierie.
The Tanqua Karoo semi-desert landscape from the top of Ganaga Pass
Traveling away from Peerboomskloof we found Greater Kestrel and Tractrac Chat along the
roadside. Large-billed Lark followed, with Black-headed Canaries around a leak at a farm water
tank. We traveled through the dry Tanqua landscape, finding Rufous-eared Warbler and Redcapped
Lark, before reaching the base of the Ganaga Pass, where we had lunch. The dry river bed
turned up Dusky Sunbird and Red-faced Mousebird during lunch before we set off up the pass,
finding Layard's Tit-babbler, Pale-winged Starling and Mountain Wheat-ear. Klipspringer
antelope were about until we reached the summit, where the views were spectacular, with snow on
the distant Cedarberg mountain range.
Back down the pass and on the way home, we stopped in a dry riverbed, turning up Pririt Batis,
Rufous-vented Tit-babbler and Namaqua Warbler. We turned up Verreaux's Eagle and distant
views of Ludwig's Bustard and Namaqua Sandgrouse before traveling back over the
Kouebokkeveld and finding Spotted Eagle-owl. Back at our guest house Karoo Thrush finished our
day off in Ceres before having a good supper.
Day 3: Ceres - De Hoop
We left Ceres just after dawn, traveling south through some rain and a cold wind that was blowing. We picked up Wattled Starling and Blue Crane en route to Montagu, where we stopped off
to see a breeding colony of Cape Weaver and Cattle Egrets. Through Montagu we found a pair of
Denham's Bustard and then on to lunch in Barrydale. In the Tradouw Pass we found more Protea
Seedeaters and Greater Double-collared Sunbird. On the plains toward De Hoop the rain started to
ease up and we found Large-billed and Red-capped Larks, along with Agulhas Long-billed Lark.
After arriving at our farm accommodation, we took a drive toward Potberg, finding Eland and
Bontebok on the nearby fields. Capped Wheatear and Crowned Lapwing were about, with
Blue Cranes in the adjacent fields. We had a great supper in the farm house, before turning in for the night.
Day 4: De Hoop - Kleinmond - Cape Town
We were up early, and greeted the dawn at Potberg, catching the morning chorus as the sun rose. We
didn't connect with Knysna Woodpecker, but found Olive Woodpecker and had fantastic views of
Cape Vulture as they sat on telephone posts next to the road waiting for thermals to develop before
soaring for the day. After breakfast we headed to the De Hoop vlei, quickly finding Southern
Tchagra, Pin-tailed Whydah and Fiscal Flycatcher. The vlei was full of waterfowl, including
Yellow-billed Duck, Red-billed and Cape Teal and Great-crested Grebe. There were several of the endangered Cape Mountain Zebra and a number of Ostrich as we traveled toward the coast, picking up Cape Clapper Lark.
At the coast we counted some 19 Southern Right Whales, with Cape Gannet further out to sea.
After some time along the spectacular coast, we started our journey back to Cape Town via
Kleinmond. Here we stopped for lunch, finding a surprise Shy Albatross through the scope from the
restaurant deck. After lunch, a trip to the Stony Point penguin colony turned up African Penguin,
Bank, Crowned, Cape and White-breasted Cormorants.
We traveled back to Cape Town via the spectacular sea cliff road of Clarence Drive to end a
wonderful whirlwind tour of the Cape's birds.
For a full list of species from this trip, please
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., www.netbooks.co.za
or www.wildsounds.co.uk). However
you're always welcome to contact
us if you're interested in a guided trip in this area.