I picked Tony up at Cape Town International Airport at 14h30 and
we left immediately for Rooi Els. Tony had never birded the Cape,
so our aim was to find a few of the nice Cape endemics.
Things started off well with good views of a female Cape
Sugarbird shortly after the turn-off at Rooi Els. As we
parked our vehicle we had the first of many Rock Martins,
clearly enjoying the strong wind as they careered about overhead.
A male Southern Double-collared Sunbird called
boldly, displaying his bright yellow epaulettes, and around the
corner we had two male Orange-breasted Sunbirds,
one of which was missing all its toes on its left leg, but appeared
to be doing fairly well despite its injury as it called vociferously
from an exposed perch.
Birding remained fairly slow as we made our way
along the road, picking up Grey-backed Cisticola,
Cape Bulbul and an obliging Cape Bunting,
which posed nicely on one of the large boulders. We soon heard Cape
Rockjumpers calling from high up the slope, and were momentarily
distracted by some more Orange-breasted Sunbirds
when we suddenly heard the Rockjumper’s loud
call from quite close, and spun around to see a beautiful male perched
atop a large boulder. He was accompanied by a female and another
which appeared to be a juvenile, as it chased the female around
constantly. We spent time enjoying the threesome as they nonchalantly
hopped from rock to rock, and appeared unperturbed by the sight
of a Rock Kestrel flying low overhead.
We decided to start making our way back as we had planned a visit
to Stoney Point, and picked up Yellow Bishop
and White-necked Raven on the way, as well as calling
Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Siskin
and Cape Grassbird, all of which unfortunately
remained distant and well-hidden.
Moving on to Betty’s Bay we had a pair of Cape Spurfowl
at the roadside with at least half a dozen tiny chicks in tow. At
Stoney Point African Penguin were abundant and very approachable
as usual, and we also had a couple of Crowned Cormorant
on the rocky pier. Cape, White-breasted and Bank
Cormorants were also present. In the late evening light
we had nice views of Little Egret flying low over
the water, before we decided to call it a day and head back to Cape
29 September 2011
West Coast – Silwerstroomstrand and Darling Hills
Road (Half Day)
After an early start to the day, we left Cape Town and headed off
along the R27 in search of some West Coast specials.
At Silwerstroomstrand we were greeted, almost instantly, by the
grating calls of at least two Southern Black Korhaans
in the distance, which remained stubbornly out of view bar a brief
sighting of a bird in flight. Karoo Prinia and
Grey-backed Cisticola were highly vocal and rewarded
us with great views. The Prinias were especially amusing, engaging
in loud, Spring-induced territorial disputes and darting after each
other through the vegetation. A Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler
was at first reluctant to leave the safety of a thick bush,
but soon flew across the road, giving great views of the characteristic
‘chestnut vent’. A Cape Grassbird was
heard calling in the undergrowth but despite our best efforts, we
could not get the call to materialize into a bird! Other sightings
included a small posse of Barn Swallows, Malachite
Sunbird, Cape Bulbul, Cape Robin-chat,
Common Fiscal, White-backed Mousebird,
and a trio of Black-headed Herons passing overhead.
Raptors included Black-shouldered Kite, African
Marsh-harrier, Yellow-billed Kite and
brief views of a Black Harrier on our way out.
A familiar cacophony awaited us at the Darling Hills road and the
culprits, a pair of Southern Black Korhaans, were
soon spotted on the hillside. We had stunning views of a pair of
Bokmakieries and heard a variety of their duetting
calls. A Common Fiscal was perched atop a large
bush, watching over Helmeted Guineafowl and Cape
Spurfowl on the ground below. A group of Sacred Ibis led
us to an irrigation dam which yielded Blacksmith Lapwing,
Spurwing Goose, Great White Pelican
and large numbers of Egyptian Geese with the smaller
South African Shelduck dotted amongst them.
The adjacent fields bore Capped Wheatears, Pied
Starlings, Red-capped Larks and a magnificent
Blue Crane. Once we were satisfied with the birding
at the dam, we continued along the road, encountering both Cape
and Brimstone Canaries, Rock Kestrel
and a pair of very obliging Banded Martins perched
on a roadside fence. They were far from camera-shy and offered great
photographic opportunities. The reed beds along the road held both
Red and Yellow Bishop (many of
the males were in stunning breeding plumage), Lesser Swamp
Warbler and Cape Weaver.
Our last stop before turning back was at a small stream where we
picked up Common Waxbill and White-throated
Swallow. Another fantastic sighting was a pair of Greater-striped
Swallows sharing a section of fence with a pair of Pearl-breasted
Swallows. Driving back to the R27 along the same route,
we were able to add a few more species to our list. These included
African Hoopoe, a small flock of beautiful European
Bee-eaters and an adult male Greater Honeyguide.
We re-joined the R27 and headed for the airport unaware that we
were in for one final treat. At the very fringe of the Strandveld,
a Black Harrier emerged from the roadside, ascending
to eye level and offering brief but superb views as we whizzed past.
It was an ideal end to a half-day’s birding and a fitting
farewell from the West Coast and South Africa.
For a full list of species from this trip, please
A Birding Africa Trip
Report by Tour Leaders Seth Musker and Campbell Fleming.
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.