I met Tiemen and Katleen at their guest house in Blouberg at 08:00 just after sunrise, before setting out to a day of birding in the West Coast National Park.
Just outside the guesthouse some Cape Weavers were building nests and on the beach African Black Oystercatchers were chasing each other around whilst Kelp Gulls and Hartlaub's Gulls were patrolling the shoreline.
En route to the West Coast National Park we made a slight detour to visit Tinie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve along the Yzerfontein-Darling Road. It is still slightly early in the season and there weren't many flowers yet, however a whole suite of 'Little Brown Jobs' were present in the form of Large-billed Lark, Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Cape Longclaw and Capped Wheatear. The Western Cape form of Cloud Cisticola was displaying all over and proved difficult to spot, but we all had reasonable views in the end. Both Common Duiker and Steenbok put in a brief appearance.
The little dam at the eastern end of the reserve had a few Cape Teals, a lonely Greater Flamingo and a Three-banded Plover was present at the water's edge. We heard cranes calling and then spotted a flock of about thirty Blue Cranes flying on the other side of the road. On the way back to the car Tiemen spotted a couple of Crowned Lapwings in the field on the other side of the road and just then a Jackal Buzzard flew past.
It was a lovely sunny day at the West Coast National Park and along the entrance road we soon were treated to good views of Common Ostrich, Bokmakierie, Cape Bulbul, Cape Sparrow and White-throated Canary.
At the intersection where we turned off to Abrahamskraal Waterhole we saw a few Pied Starlings and a covey of Cape Spurfowl. A distant Southern Black Korhaan put in an appearance about midway towards the Abrahamskraal hide, but we saw several more throughout the day (seven or eight sightings in total).
The waterhole was surprisingly quiet, but we did get good views of Black Crake, African Swamphen, Eurasian Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Cape Shoveler and Lesser Swamp-Warbler.
On the drive to the seaside at Tsaarsbank, we were distracted along the way by the likes of a Steenbok and Angulate Tortoises while at Tsaarsbank itself we saw Cape Cormorants, Crowned Cormorants, African Black Oystercatchers, Swift Terns and a few distant Sterna Terns out at sea, but unfortunately too far to clinch an ID.
Along the road back towards the Geelbek turnoff, we saw the first of four or five groups of Grey-winged Francolins, easily the largest number of these lovely little birds I've ever seen on a day visit to the park.
En route to Seeberg, we made a quick stop at the Geelbek Manor House where we saw Cape Weavers and Yellow Bishops.
At the Seeberg Viewpoint, we saw Rock Kestrel, Cape Penduline Tits, a distant Crowned Lapwing and a Southern Black Korhaan. As we turned to go have a look at a few Dassies (Rock Hyraxes), we were treated to brief but good views of the bird of the day, Black Harrier.
When we stopped at the parking spot at the Seeberg Hide, we had another brief glimpse of Black Harrier in the distance and then along the pathway to the hide we saw Chestnut-vented Warbler (Titbabbler) and Bar-throated Apalis. At the hide we were treated to White-fronted Plover, Kittlitz's Plover, Black-winged Stilt and both Greater and Lesser Flamingoes.
We returned to a spectacular sunset at Blouberg, slightly tired but satisfied after a long yet good day of birding. Our final tally for the day was 81 bird species.
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.
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.
Only a low level of fitness is required.
Throughout the year.
Moderate; can be warm in summer and chilly in winter.
A good standard of accommodation in guest houses, lodges and small hotels.
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.