Birding tours from Cape Town to Cameroon and Madagascar, with the only African Birding Specialist










    Cape Town Pelagics
    Cape Birding Route
    350 Photo Challenge
   Like us on Facebook


Western Cape Trip Report: Tanqua Karoo 2-day Loop, 20 & 21 September 2010

Please click here for more information about our upcoming Cape Tours.

Itinerary: Blaauwberg, Darling, Ceres, Kouebokkeveld, Tanqua Karoo.

Highlight species: Black Harrier, Protea Canary, Cape Rock Thrush, Southern Black Korhaan, Spotted Eagle Owl, Karoo Khoraan, Karoo Chat, Pale Chanting Goskawk, Fairy Warbler, Dusky Sunbird, Ludwig's Bustard

Detailed Trip Report

Day 1: Blaauwberg - Darling - Ceres - Kouebokkeveld

I met Stephan and Otji at Rondevlei Nature Reserve at 06h45 so we could avoid the City traffic and getan early start. By 07h45 we were already along the Blaauwberg coastline enjoying the classic viewof Table Mountain across Table Bay in the early morning sunshine.

Here we found several Crowned Cormorants and African Black Oystercatcher on the coastalrocks. We found White-fronted Plovers along the high tide mark and then crossed over the road intothe coastal thicket and picked up some of the bush birds; Bokmakierie, Cape Robin-chat, KarooScrub-robin and Grey-backed Cisticola. There was a cold front approaching the Cape from thenorth west, and a light rain broke through every now and then. We headed up the coast, turning intothe Darling road to see if we could find Southern Black Korhaan. We heard two males callingalmost as soon as we arrived, but Stephan only managed a glimpse of one some way off before itdisappeared into the bush. A Black Harrier made a far off fly past, whilst Pied Starling, CapeCanary, Greater Striped Swallow and Cape Sparrow abounded. The cold weather kept many of thebirds in cover as we travelled down the road, picking up Red and Yellow Bishop amongst a breedingcolony of Cape Weavers.

Cape Teal, Egyptian and Spur-winged Geese were in a roadside dam, as Blacksmith Lapwing andThree-banded Plover skirted the waters edge. We found a calling Lesser Honeyguide, but the birdcalled from the back of trees beyond our reach and after a while the rain drove us into the car andalong the road. Despite the rain, the hill sides that we passed near Darling were coloured purple withspring flowers. After picking up Cape Longclaw near the roadside, we turned inland, travellingthrough the town of Malmesbury, over the beautiful Seweweeks Poort and on to the Mitchell'sMountain Pass. Here we stopped at a couple of sites to take in the scenery and have a look around.Booted Eagle turned up and then Streaky-headed Seed-eater amongst the boulders of a lookout overthe waterfall in the pass. Further on in the town of Ceres we picked up some lunch and used our lastchance of getting fuel and other supplies before entering the Tanqua.

We had lunch overlooking Ceres from the Gydo Pass and then reached the rocky plateau of theKouebokkeveld. Here at a productive stakeout en route we found Protea Canary amongst a stand ofold Proteas. In this area we also found our first Mountain Wheatear and a number of CapeSugarbirds. We pressed on, leaving the small farms behind and entered the area of rock plateaus thathave shaped into strange features by the elements. Stopping at a location we travelled in by foot to anoverhang with several paintings of San rock art. These paintings depicted various scenes of San life.Here in a rock crack we flushed an owl, getting only brief views of the bird. We travelled further upthe crack and got a slightly better view of the bird, which we made out to be a Barn Owl. This wasconfirmed by the feathers found amongst the pellets lying along the length of the rock crack. Withdaylight coming to a close we headed to Klein Cedarberg, our guest house for the night, but notbefore picking up Rock Martin and Cape Rock Thrush amongst the boulders around us.

At the guest house we found Familiar Chat amongst the buildings and Blacksmith Lapwing andThree-banded Plover at the water pond. Brown-throated and Rock Martins mixed with a loneWhite-throated Swallow as Cape Weaver arrived to drink before nightfall. After a great supper wehad a short drive, finding Smith's Red Rock Rabbit and a Spotted Eagle Owl before turning in forthe night.

Day 2: Kouebokkeveld - Tanqua Karoo - Cape Town

During the night a cold front blew in over the Cape and the next morning a cold wind was blowingfrom the North. We set off at 07h45 and soon found a female Southern Black Korhaan in the road.We travelled over the mountain range and stopped for breakfast near the rock walls ofPeerboomskloof. Here we tried for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and although we heard the bird itdidn't show against the cliffs. We had more luck however with Fairy Warbler and Layard'sTitbabbler before setting off on to the dry lowlands of the Tanqua.

Before long we had picked up a pair of Karoo Korhaan and a Karoo Chat. Pale ChantingGoshawk appeared and we found Red-capped Larks at leaking water pipes. Unfortunately theTanqua roads lived up to their tough reputation and we had a flat tyre; this didn't stop us for long andwe picked up Karoo Chat whilst changing it! Off again and we entered a dry river bed to find DuskySunbird on a flowering bush, followed by Namaqua Warbler that responded nicely amongst thethick riverine vegetation.

Some ways on Large-billed Lark appeared and then a pair of Spike-heeled Lark amongst dry grassclumps. By this stage the wind had picked up and unbelievably it started to rain - a very rare event inthis otherwise arid landscape. We decided to head back toward Ceres and found a Ludwig's Bustardthat flew over and then conveniently landed within scope distance.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Dalton Gibbs.

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

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.

For feedback from our guests, please see our Client Comments. Please also browse our Latest News and Trip Reports.

This website is maintained by Birding Africa.
Copyright © 1997-2015 Birding Africa

Please do not use any text, images or content from this site without permission.
Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
© Birding Africa 1997-2015

[African Tailorbirding CC (CK2003/020710/23) trading as Birding Africa]
P.O. Box 22727, Scarborough, 7975, South Africa.

Home and News - Tour Calendar - Trip Reports - Client Comments - Conservation - About Us - Contact Us