Hoping for Blue Crane, we turned onto the Darling Hills road, but the cranes were absent on this occasion. We continued; picking up species such as Capped Wheatear, Red-capped Lark, Cape Weaver
(already nest-building in the reed-beds), Southern Red Bishop
(all still in non-breeding plumage), a group of Wattled Starling, Speckled
and White-backed Mousebirds
in the same bush, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Common Fiscal, Fiscal Flycatcher
and others on our way through to the Mamre-Darling road.
In Darling we stopped for an enjoyable breakfast, adding a group of Red-faced Mousebirds
opposite the restaurant on our way out. Tienie Versveld was quiet, so we headed on into the WCNP. One of our first birds here was an African Hoopoe
and we soon added Common Ostrich
. A stop at the Abrahaamskraal hide yielded numerous new species, including bushbirds such as Karoo Scrub-Robin, Chestnut-vented Titbabbler, Le Vaillant's Cisticola, Yellow
and White-throated Canary
and African Stonechat
as well as the common waterbirds including African Shellduck
. Unfortunately, African Rail and Black Crake did not put in an appearance.
We then headed up the western side of the lagoon, with good views of Black Harrier, Grey-winged Francolin
and Bar-throated Apalis
on the way. At the coast, a single Crowned Cormorant
was seen perched on the rocks together with numbers of African Black Oystercatchers
. Cape Gannet
and Cape Cormorant
were seen offshore as well as several small groups of terns - dark below, possibly Antarctic, but this could not be verified.
Returning down the lagoon, we dropped in at the Seeberg hide, where Three-banded
and White-fronted Plovers
as well as Greater Flamingo
were added. The only migrant wader present was a single Common Whimbrel
. A pair of Jackal Buzzards
was hanging above the Seeberg view-point, and on the way down the hill we had excellent views of a pair of Southern Black Korhaan
, as well as our third look at Grey-winged Francolin.
Cape Sugarbird at Rooi Els, Hottentots Holland - Day 2
We opted for tea at Geelbek instead of visiting the hide,adding Yellow Bishop
and House Sparrow
which were foraging amongst the many Cape Weavers
eyeing the tables for leftovers.
We returned to Blouberg with a total of 83 species for the day, the last addition being a pair of Blue Cranes
flying over the R27 on the way back. (Other wildlife seen included Bontebok, Steenbok
and many Angulate Tortoises
along the park roads).
Day 2: Hottentots Holland
We met at the Blouberg B&B at the same time the following morning, and headed towards the N2. The weather was excellent, and we arrived at Rooi Els at about 09h00. At the turn-off from the coastal road we found Cape Sugarbirds
busy at the proteas in the residents' gardens, together with a group of Chacma Baboons
As we parked, a whale
cruised by fairly close inshore. The main birding area was still in shade, and it was fairly cool and quiet, so we headed to Pringle Bay for breakfast, then returning to walk along the path. The birds had now become rather more active, and Orange-breasted Sunbird, Familiar Chat, Cape Bunting, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cape Rock Thrush
and an unexpected pair of Giant Kingfishers
flying by were soon added to the list. A male Cape Sugarbird
perched perfectly for photographs, but strangely, Malachite Sunbirds were absent, and there was no sight (nor sound) of Cape Rockjumper, Ground Woodpecker or the resident pair of Verreaux's Eagles.
Eventually, we headed on to Stoney Point, where the African Penguins
, with many large chicks, were a delight in perfect weather conditions, and all four marine cormorant species
were present. Amongst the cormorant and penguins were a Grey Heron
and a Little Egret
, as well as numerous Rock Hyrax
At the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens there was evidence of the recent fire which has swept down right into the reserve, but we managed to add a few additional species. These included Sombre Greenbul, Olive Thrush, Cape Batis
and Cape Grassbird
and a pair of Olive Woodpeckers
in Disa Kloof. As we returned from the kloof, a group
of baboons passed us on the bridge heading for the forest.
We returned to Cape Town with a list of 51 species for the day (the last bird being a Hamerkop
along the N2 near Somerset West), and an overall tally of 100 species (98 seen + 2 heard) for the two days.
For a full list of species from this trip, please
A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Otto Schmidt.
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., www.netbooks.co.za
or www.wildsounds.co.uk). However
you're always welcome to contact
us if you're interested in a guided trip in this area.