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Western Cape Endemics Tour, 25-28 October 2010


Please click here for more information about our upcoming Cape Tours.

Itinerary: We visited key birding sites in the Western Cape: the West Coast, Velddrif, Ceres,
Tanqua Karoo and Grootvadersbosch.


Detailed Trip Report

The aim of this whistle-stop, three-and-a-half-day trip was to find as many endemics of the West
Coast, Cape Mountains, Ceres Karoo and Grootvadersbosch during the time at our disposal.
Highlights included Black-headed Canary, Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan and a flock of 15
Ludwig’s Bustard on the West Coast, a trio of Cape Rockjumper and a very confiding Victorin’s
Warbler at Bain’s Kloof Pass, excellent views of Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Karoo Korhaan and
Karoo Eremomela in the Ceres Karoo, and equally good sightings of Knysna Warbler and Forest
Buzzard at Grootvadersbosch.

25 October 2010: Cape Town to West Coast
An early morning start saw us shoot up the R27 to the West Coast National Park, where soon after
arrival we found a surprise group of Black-headed Canary foraging near the road, including a
striking male. In the surrounding strandveld we quickly found more common species such as Cape
Bunting, Bokmakierie, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Yellow Canary, Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler and
Grey-backed Cisticola. A little more searching revealed Grey Tit, a small party of diminutive Cape
Penduline Tit and displaying Karoo Lark. Birding from the hide provided excellent views of a
young African Rail and its more watchful parent, and Black Crake. A smart Black Harrier soared
directly overhead, Pearl-breasted Swallow flitted over the grasslands, and Little Rush Warbler was
seen in the reeds. From here we made our way to Velddrif where we quickly found the sought-after
Chestnut-banded Plover, White-fronted Plover and Lesser Flamingo, and then headed for the
coastal area near Vredenburg, spotting a roadside male Southern Black Korhaan and Blue Cranes
on our way. Near Vredenburg we quickly found a calling Cape Long-billed Lark, and over the
course of the rest of the afternoon, Sickle-winged Chat, Capped Wheatear, Cloud Cisticola and,
best of all, a flock of fifteen Ludwig’s Bustard, which were a bit flighty at first but gave excellent
views in the end.

26 October 2010: West Coast to Ceres Karoo
A pre-dawn start saw us headed eastwards towards the Ceres Karoo, although we decided first to
make a detour to the Bain’s Kloof area. On arrival at Bain’s Kloof Pass we were greeted by a strong,
cold wind, which made standing upright difficult. We search some of the more sheltered ridges, first
drawing a blank but finding a confiding trio of Cape Rockjumper on our second attempt. Bird
activity was slow, but we also managed to coax Victorin’s Warbler out of its roadside thicket for
excellent views. Cape Siskin flew over a ridge before we could obtain decent views. From Ceres we
made a detour to find Protea Seedeater (also seeing Swee Waxbill), which behaved very well, before
heading into the Karoo where Namaqua Warbler greeted our arrival near Karoopoort. We worked
the roadside habitat as we drove northwards, finding Mountain Wheatear, Karoo Chat, Tractrac
Chat, Rufous-eared Warbler, Spike-heeled Lark, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk and a quartet
of Karoo Korhaan before we reached Skitterykloof. Here it was hot and quiet, and trustingly a
Cinnamon-breasted Warbler vanished from the rocky slope where I had spotted it before anyone
could see it properly. Dusky Sunbird, Fairly Flycatcher, Layard’s Titbabbler, White-throated
Seedeater and White-backed Mousebird were some consolation before we moved on out our
accommodation. En route a pair of Ground Woodpecker performed well, and after dark we found a
very tame Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, although we drew a blank on Cape Eagle Owl.

27 October 2010: Ceres Karoo to Grootvadersbosch
An early start back at Skitterykloof resulted in more frustration as we chased calls of Cinnamon-
breasted Warbler across the rocky slopes for almost two hours, obtaining only brief views. And Pririt
Batis was nowhere to be found either. As we headed for the plains we paused one last time at the
rocky poort, where Cinnamon-breasted Warbler was calling. A little persistence and we soon had
the warbler preening on top of an Aloe, giving excellent views in the scope! Out on the plains we
quickly found Southern Ant-eating Chat and some confiding Namaqua Sandgrouse, and a little
more searching turned up the localised Karoo Eremomela. Our last Karoo special was a trio of Pririt
Batis along an Acacia-lined watercourse, before we headed south and east towards the Langeberg. En
route we found Steppe Buzzard, Wattled Starling, Grey-backed Sparrowlark and, birding near the
Tradouw Pass, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Rock Thrush, Greater Double-
collared Sunbird, Brimstone Canary, and a pair of Knysna Woodpecker. We arrived at
Grootvadersbosch in the drizzle, although a roadside Olive Bushshrike did brighten our moods. After
dark we managed to spot a cold, soggy African Wood Owl.

28 October 2010: Grootvadersbosch to Cape Town
With just a few hours of birding at our disposal, we wasted no time in making an early entry into
Grootvadersbosch forest. Birds were very cooperative, and we quickly found Yellow-throated
Woodland Warbler, Olive Woodpecker, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, and an amazingly
relaxed Knysna Warbler, which sat on a big fallen tree trunk, right out in the open. Other highlights
of the morning were a Tambourine Dove (scarce here), several Forest Canary, Black Cuckoo,
Black Sawwing, Greater Honeyguide, Amethyst Sunbird and a relaxed Forest Buzzard, perched
near the road where it was drying out after the rain. After a hearty breakfast it was time to bid the
birds farewell, as we hotfooted it for Cape Town International Airport for an early afternoon
departure.


A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Michael Mills.

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.

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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