We collected the common birds in and around Bantry Bay on the Atlantic
side as we left the hotel, Red-winged Starling,
Hartlaub’s Gull and some lovely African
Black Oystercatchers foraging for mussels along the rocky
shore. The cloudy and rainy weather was looking threatening, but
as we crossed the Cape flats and headed for some top birding spots
in the Kogelberg Biosphere, the weather showed
signs of clearing. Sightings of Glossy Ibis, Southern
Red Bishop, Southern Masked Weaver and
Levaillant’s Cisticola along the N2 got us
off to a good start.
We were absorbing the huge ocean vistas from the coastal road when
we spotted a small pod of Southern Right Whales.
What was to be a short stop turned into more than an hour of energetic
viewing as the large ocean mammals vied with the birds for our attention.
The fynbos endemic Orange-breasted Sunbird was
active around our vehicle, though it took a while to get a decent
photograph! We were absorbing the sight of 4 whales cruising about
200m offshore, when we noticed a colony of South African
Fur Seals basking below us. As our eyes became accustomed
to the scale of the mammals, boulders and bushes in the area, we
started spotting our target species of Rock Hyrax.
Excellent views were had of adults and young foraging and basking
on the cliffside and on the rocky beach. While this was on the go,
we realised that Swift Terns and Cape Cormorants
were not the only seabirds out there. A good handful of Shy Albatross
and White-chinned Petrel were viewed well in the scope at this and
two other sites along the coast – quite a treat when one hasn’t
signed up on a pelagic!
Our coastal walk at Rooiels produced excellent views of successfully
foraging Rock Kestrels, but sadly no other raptors.
The flowering ericas and proteas drew in Cape Sugarbird
and Orange-breasted Sunbird to feed and pollinate,
making for some great viewing. We had a calling Cape Grassbird
who had some competition from a very vocal Victorin’s
Warbler nearby. The Grey-backed Cisticolas
were displaying all around us allowing some good photographic opportunities.
Ground Woodpecker called from high up and some Alpine Swifts
and White-necked Ravens put on a good show too.
The highlight of the walk was an exquisite Cape Rock Elephant-shrew
that allowed us onto its rocky territory for some great photography.
We ended the walk with a very confiding (and vocal) male Cape
We had a short, but productive stop at the Stoney Point penguin
colony around midday. It was great to see all the different ages
and stages of the African Penguins intermingled
with Rock Hyrax and a colony of Cape Girdled Lizards
too. Crowned Cormorant was present, but elusive,
however we watched the threatened and endemic Bank Cormorant
on the nest surrounded by White-breasted and
Cape Cormorants too. At least three Subantarctic
(Brown) Skua were seen patrolling the ocean not far from
land and we picked up more albatrosses and petrels in the scope,
rounding off a great stop.
A picnic in the magnificent Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens
delivered some great ‘garden’ birds in the form of Swee
Waxbill, Black Sawwing, African
Dusky Flycatcher, Sombre Greenbul, Southern
Double-collared and Malachite Sunbirds, Yellow
Bishop and a Cape River Frog! The garden
was in full bloom with various species of mimetes and the King Protea
stealing the show.
Our route back home was via the Elgin valley where we had a few
good raptor sightings of Yellow-billed Kite, the
lovely Jackal Buzzard and some distant Forest
Buzzards too. A last stop at a farm dam produced breeding
African Darter, Fiscal Flycatcher,
Speckled Mousebird and an African Black
Duck with a duckling.
All in all, it was a superb day out in this incredibly scenic and
productive part of the Cape.
Day Trip report: West Coast - 11th September 2011
A crisp and fresh morning greeted us as we left the hotel in Bantry
Bay. We viewed the resident birds along the beach front as we headed
out of Cape Town destined for the intriguing and exciting West Coast
Our first stop was just outside the town of Melkbosstrand and we
racked up great views of a couple of African Purple Swamphen,
Black-crowned Night Heron, Little Grebe,
Cape Shoveller and Black-winged Stilt.
We scanned the endangered Strandveld vegetation as we headed north,
looking for the main target in the form of Black Harrier.
A few brief stops delivered no harrier yet, but Black-shouldered
Kite mobbing a young Jackal Buzzard, Malachite
Sunbird and Yellow Canary.
We entered the park in the south and were immediately greeted with
a some interesting birds in the form of cheeky-sounding White-backed
Mousebird, Cape Bunting, Cape Sparrow,
Bar-throated Apalis and a fleeting family of Grey
Tits. Cape Grassbirds were vocal from
the restio-clad dunes and Common Ostrich strolled
around casually! We were on the look-out for the park’s top
predator, the Caracal and thought we were in with a chance when
we found fresh scat on the track down to the Abrahamskraal waterhole.
As we stopped we had beautiful Pearl-breasted and
White-throated Swallows in view. The elusive African
Rails called from deep in the reedbeds, but another wetland
specialist the African Marsh Harrier got our blood
running. A pair was there and seen carrying nesting material down
into the reeds. A pair of the very smart endemic South African
Shelduck came honking past us as we settled into the hide
for a short while. A Steenbok with extremely long
horns grazed on the far bank as we watched Red-knobbed Coots
of various ages feeding and interacting with their parents.
As we drove towards the Postberg section (open only for two months
in the flower season), we stayed on the lookout for Black
Harrier. After more than two dozen sightings of Pied Crow,
we finally got lucky with this special harrier right next to the
road! Approaching Postberg we began to get an inkling of the wildflowers
that were to be on show as we viewed a herd of Eland
lazing in a swathe of orange and yellow – there were a few
Springbok, Bontebok and a Red
Hartebeest there too. African Pipits were
vocal and showed well right near the roadside. Our next few stops
provided excellent close viewing of Bokmakierie,
African Hoopoe and a pair of very smart Large-billed
Larks. Another open area was full of rather busy Cape
Mountain Zebra and more Bontebok as we
made our way up the hill to the viewpoint over Saldanha bay and
the Langebaan Lagoon. Approaching the top we were able to photograph
Black-headed Heron and had a very vocal Chestnut-vented
Titbabbler and displaying Karoo Lark to
add to the viewing list. The granitic outcrops add real flavour
to the landscape and we picked out Little Swift
and Rock Kestrels around them. Karoo Scrub-robins,
more chat-like than other scrub-robins were feeding a fledgling
in amongst some stunning blue Heliophila flowers and ‘watched’
by the black form of Karoo Girdled Lizard.
It was when we turned to head back with the sun
behind us that we really got the full impact of the flowering spectacle
on offer – all the flowers faced north and we confronted with
huge fields of white, some purple, some blue and others orange –
definitely a sight for the bucketlist! We added African
Stonechat and a pair Grey-winged Francolin
as we made our way to lunch at Geelbek Manor.
A short walk in the area after a super lunch produced Marsh
Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Cape
Teal and a pair of Rock Kestrels nesting
under the eaves of one of the old farm buildings. The afternoon
was a little windy and still chilly, but that didn’t deter
the African Marsh Harriers as we had a good few
more sightings. The hide at Seeberg was good for a roost of Greater
Flamingo, Common and Swift Tern,
White-fronted and Kittlitz’s Plover
and White-throated Canary. A range of attractive
and interesting flowers were tucked into the thickets there making
the boardwalk very interesting indeed.
Our final sightings of the day en route home were Great
White Pelican, Caspian Tern and Glossy
Ibis. What a fantastic mix of fauna and flora on day out
For a full list of species from this trip, please
A Birding Africa Trip
Report by Tour Leader Alastair Kilpin.
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
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
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
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.