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Western Cape Tour, West Coast, 19 February 2012

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Itinerary: We birded at Blaauwberg, Darling, Yzerfontein and West Coast National Park near Langebaan.

Number of bird species: 109

Noteworthy sightings: Pale Chanting Goshawk on the Darling road just off the R27, Layards Tit-babbler at Blaauwberg so close to Cape Town, Black Crake with a chick at Abrahamskraal water hole in West Coast National Park.

Detailed Trip Report

We met early in central Cape Town and left the City by 06:00; avoiding the morning rush hour traffic and were soon along the West Coast heading toward Blaauwberg. Here we stopped for a walk along the beach, picking up African Black Oystercatcher, Cape Cormorant and several Crowned Cormorants. The usual coastal Kelp Gulls and Hartlaubs Gulls were also about. We turned our attention to the inland coastal Strandveld vegetation across the road, turning up a few local bush birds such as Layard's Titbabbler, Cape Robin-chat, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cape Bulbul and Karoo Prinia. Many of these birds were very reluctant to show themselves, being the end of the breeding season and the start of what was predicted to be a hot day. We moved on up the West Coast road, finding Black-shouldered Kite, Pied Starling and the ever present Pied Crow.

We turned off the coast road onto the back Darling road, finding Cape Spurfowl, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Sparrow and a surprise Pale-chanting Goshawk. Nearby was a pair of Blue Crane with a two immature chicks. A local dam turned up Spur-wing Goose, Red-knobbed Coot and numerous Egyptian Goose. Around the corner at the farm house we worked through the various swallows, turning up Barn Swallow, White-throated Swallow, Greater Striped Swallow and the diminutive Pearl-breasted Swallow. Large flocks of Red Bishop were about, with the occasional Yellow Bishop. At the farm “Groote Post” we found a leaking irrigation pipe and quickly picked up Cape and White-throated Canary, Cape Weaver and White-backed Mousebird. On the road to Darling we had a brief fly by of Namaqua Dove, with Capped Wheatear in the adjacent fields. On the other side Darling we stopped in at the small Tienie Versfeld Nature Reserve, where we found both Levaillant’'s and Cloud Cisticola. We flushed a pair of Steenbok antelope, whilst Cape Longclaw and Cloud Cisticola showed well. In the small dam on site we found Cape Teal and Greenshank. We headed toward the coast at Ysterfontein, finding Cape Fur Seal in the harbour with several Crowned Cormorants and African Black Oystercatchers.

Cape Shoveler and Red-knobbed Coot by Dalton Gibbs

Further up the road we entered the West Coast National Park and headed to the Abrahamskraal water hole, where we picked up water birds such as Red-knobbed Coot, African Spoonbill and Lesser Swamp Warbler. Bush birds included Yellow and Cape Canary along with Cape Bunting and Cape Bulbul. We had good views of Black Crake with its tiny fluffy young along the waters edge. We left this bird hide and traveled to the coast, seeing Gemsbok and Eland some way off. African Penguin fed off the coast, with flocks of Sanderling along the coast. We headed to the bird hide at Geelbek, but the water was very high and we only picked up Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Kittlitz Plover. We headed across to the Oosteval hide, finding a wide variety of wading birds, including Little Stint, Whimbrell, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone and Red Knot. We headed up to the look out point over the park, taking the view of the blue estuary below. Cape Spurfowl and Helmeted Guineafowl fed on the slope of the hill as we set off from the Park toward Cape Town, having picked up 109 bird species during the day.

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

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., 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.

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Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
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