Western Cape Tour, West Coast & Hottentots Holland, 17 & 18 March 2015
Highlights: Southern Black Korhaan, 22 Blue Cranes, 4 Black Harriers, 2 African Marsh-harriers and a Black-shouldered Kite. 16 wader species seen at the lagoon. Black Crake, Cape Bunting, Cape Rockjumper, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Sugarbird, Brown-backed Honeybird, Maccoa Duck, Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Spotted Eagle Owl and more...
Total number of bird species for the two days: 144
18 March: West Coast
After picking up Finnish birders Mikko and Pia from their accommodation in Green Point, we headed up the west coast. Today promised a good diversity of agricultural, strandveld and tidal lagoon species. Our first stop was en-route to the West Coast National Park where we birded a gravel road with excellent open habitat. Here we found Lanner Falcon, Bokmakierie, South African Shelduck, Capped Wheatear, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Pied Starling, Cape Longclaw and twenty-two Blue Cranes among others.
In the park we drove slowly along the roads picking up Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Bar-throated Apalis, White-backed Mousebird, Long-billed Crombec and Karoo Scrub-Robin. Raptors really put on a show with an impressive count of FOUR Black Harriers and two African Marsh-Harriers as well as Steppe and Jackal Buzzards, Rock Kestrel, Black-shouldered Kite, African Fish-Eagle and Osprey. From two hides positioned on the salt water lagoon, we picked out 16 species of waders (shorebirds) as well as Greater Flamingos and five species of terns. At a freshwater hide we had Black Crake, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Cape Bunting, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Shoveler, African Spoonbill and more.
Cape Weaver arriving for the sprinklers!
After lunch we had the gardener turn on a sprinkler and for the next half hour enjoyed excellent photography of dozens of birds coming in to bathe!
En route back to Cape Town a Southern Black Korhaan brought our day list to an even 100 species.
19 March: Hottentot's Holland
Cape Grassbird during the Hottentots Holland day trip
Today Mikko, Pia and I headed east into the endemic rich Hottentots Holland region with our first stop being Rooi Els. Here our main target was the Cape Rockjumper, which ended up being one of the first birds we had today! The excellent birding continued with great numbers of Malachite, Southern Double-collared and Orange-breasted Sunbirds with Cape Sugarbirds feeding on the proteas. Elsewhere along the road we had superb looks at four Ground Woodpeckers, Cape Grassbird, Cape Siskin, Yellow Bishop and a pair of Cape Rock-Thrushes among others. A good number of Cape Gannets were heading east offshore.
Our next stop was at Stoney Point, where we had up close views of hundreds of African Penguins as well as a good scan of the large cormorant colony consisting of Cape, Bank, Crowned and White-breasted Cormorants. In town, trio of Water Thick-knees in someone's front yard was a nice addition.
Before lunch we birded at Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, which didn't disappoint! Olive Thrush, Sombe Greenbul, African Dusky, African Paradise-Flycatchers, Southern Boubou, Victorin's Warbler, Black Saw-wing, Swee Waxbill, Cape Batis and an unexpected Brown-backed Honeybird were some of the highlights.
En-route back to Cape Town we spent a good hour and a half at the infamous Strandfontein Sewage Works, which gave our day list quite a boost! Highlights here include Maccoa Duck, Great White Pelican, Great and Lesser Flamingo (good comparisons), Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron and a pair of Spotted Eagle-Owls at their nesting site. Today's total of 94 species pushed our two day trip list total to an impressive 144 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.