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Western Cape Trip Report: West Coast - 26 November 2013

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Itinerary: West Coast and West Coast National Park

Highlights: Southern Black Korhaan, Black Harrier, Blue Crane, Common Redshank, Karoo Scrub-Robin, White-backed Mousebird and Levaillant's Cisticola

Southern Black Korhaan seen on a Birding Africa West Coast tour © Dominic Rollinson
Southern Black Korhaan

Detailed Trip Report

The day started at 06h30 after fetching Richard and Margaret from their accommodation. They had already spent a few days in the Cape and so were after a limited number of species they had yet to encounter. These species were to be the focus of the day.

We turned off the R27, just south of Darling, and almost immediately had Cape Clapper Larks calling distantly as well as a number of Southern Black Korhaans. They both took a bit of work to find but the toils paid off and eventually we got good views along with great photographic opportunities. Along with the larks and korhaans, several more common bird sighting were noted including in surrounding strandveld the Yellow Canary, Namaqua Dove, Common Fiscal, Grey-backed Cisticola as well as a couple Jackal Buzzards.

Yellow Canary © Dominic Rollinson
Yellow Canaries

When entering the farmlands we soon encountered a single Blue Crane which we managed to sneak up on for a closer look, which was certainly one of the highlights of the day. Roadside birds included; Capped Wheatear, Banded Martin, Pied Starling, Cape Weaver and Cape Grassbird.

Fynbos birding was pretty quiet in West Coast National Park, so we decided to head straight to the Abrahamskraal hide. A number of common marshland species were noted including the Cape Shoveller, Cape Teal, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot and Lesser Flamingo. Lesser Swamp-Warblers were heard calling deep in the reedbeds, however, they could not be sighted. Just outside the hide we had fleeting glimpses of Bokmakierie and Levaillant's Cisticola. Other fynbos birds worth mentioning included Karoo Scrub-Robin, Pearl-breasted Swallow and White-backed Mousebird.

Greater Flamingo on a Birding Africa Tour © Dominic Rollinson
Greater Flamingo

After an enjoyable lunch we made our way to the Geelbek Hide with the tide rapidly dropping. We had timed it just right and eventually most of the wader species gave us good scope views. Some of the waders on offer included Pied Avocet, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Little Stint, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Ringed Plover, with the highlight being Common Redshank. We had a brief flyby of a Western Osprey and Caspian Terns were noted. As we were leaving the hide we came across a solitary European Sand Martin, an unusual bird in the park.

White-throated Swallow © Dominic Rollinson
White-throated Swallow

Our final stop was at Seeberg Hide to catch up with any other missing waterbirds. Unfortunately there was not much different on offer besides the friendly White-throated Swallows and an impressive group of over 5000 Common Terns. On exiting the park we stumbled upon a couple of Black Harriers which was one of the big targets, and a great way to end the day.

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

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Dom Rollinson.

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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