Western Cape: West Coast Trip Report - 01 November 2014
Highlight bird species:Black Harrier, Karoo Scrub-robin, Blue Crane, Bokmakierie, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Spotted Eagle Owl, Booted Eagle, Cape Penduline-tits, Southern Black Korhaan, Karoo Lark, Grey-winged Francolin, plus an abundance of waders and other waterbirds at the lagoon.
After meeting up with Gerard at 07h00, we made a beeline for the west coast.
Our first stop provided an introduction to some of the more abundant birds of the strandveld vegetation typical of the relatively arid west coast. These included Grey-backed Cisticola, Karoo Prinia, Southern Double-collared and Malachite Sunbirds and Karoo Scrub-robin. We also had our first views of Black Harrier, with a single individual flying low over the scrub. We had good luck with this species throughout the day, with several good sightings, particularly in the West Coast National Park.
The Darling farmlands rewarded us with many Blue Cranes as well as small flocks of very active Cape Sparrow. Bokmakierie was seen calling from atop a bush and Cape Clapper Lark and Southern Black Korhaan were heard calling in the distance, although our best efforts were unable to yield a glimpse of either. Further along, we had Red-capped Lark, African Pipit, Capped Wheatear, Spur-winged Goose and a large flock of Pied Starlings. We also encountered many colourful European Bee-eaters and picked out a few Wattled Starlings amongst the far more abundant Common Starlings. Pearl-breasted Swallow was also seen very well. A small stand of pines yielded good views of Spotted Eagle Owl at eye level amongst the low branches and we also picked up Cape and Southern Masked Weaver before moving on to the West Coast National Park.
Initial highlights included a Booted Eagle and a group of obliging Cape Penduline-tits. Along the boardwalk to the Seeberg bird hide, we managed to locate one of their elaborate plant down and animal hair nests thanks to the advice of another Birding Africa guide who had located the nest on an earlier trip. We managed to pick up a couple more Cape Penduline-tits, probably the occupants of the nearby nest. The Seeberg hide held its usual host of waders, including Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Common Ringed, Kittlitz's, Grey and White-fronted Plovers.
After lunch at Geelbek, we added Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank and Common Redshank at the Geelbek bird hide. On the road to the Abrahamskraal wetland, we had excellent views of a displaying Karoo Lark which allowed us to approach within metres once it landed. The wetland held its usual host of waterbirds including Cape Shoveller, Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen and Little Grebe. Roadside stops yielded White-backed and Speckled Mousebirds, Namaqua Dove and Yellow Canary. On our return to the eastern sector of the park, we encountered a small covey of Grey-winged Francolin with young. We watched as the two adults hesitantly crossed the road before another car passed and all the francolins scattered into the scrub, separating the adults from the young. After a short while, the two adults emerged from the undergrowth nearer our vehicle and returned to the side from which they had come originally. Our final notable sighting before leaving the park was a male Southern Black Korhaan only a few metres from our vehicle.
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.