I arranged to met Alexandra at her hotel at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront at
7am for the Hottentots Holland day-trip. We anticipated a glorious day ahead
with the weather looking bright and sunny.
We arrived at Rooi Els shortly after 08h00, and found a troop of Chacma baboons at the turnoff
from the tarred road as well as several rock hyraxes sunning themselves on a stoney
outcrop. Cape Sugarbirds were soon spotted in the gardens as we headed to the parking
area. We headed down the path, but it was still fairly early and birding was fairly slow to
begin with. A single Ground Woodpecker was perched on a large rock, but gave only a
quick glimpse before it flew off down towards the sea. Victorin's Warblers and Cape
Grassbirds were heard calling, but these skulking birds did not show themselves apart from
a very fleeting view of a Victorin's. As the sun rose over the mountain top, the birds became
more active with Orange-breasted Sunbirds the most numerous. A pair of White-necked
Ravens flew by, and species such as Yellow Bishop, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cape Bunting,
Familiar Chat and Common Fiscal were added.
On our way back along the path we eventually spotted a male Cape Rockjumper,
initially fairly close to the path, but then it headed up the rocky mountainside.
The female was also seen briefly. The male was calling fairly regularly but moving constantly,
and it took a while before Alexandra managed to get a satisfactory view,
but eventually she was happy with a good if rather distant sighting of this handsome bird.
At the car-park we spotted Cape Gannets fishing out at sea, but the Verreaux's Eagles
did not show themselves.
We continued to Betty's Bay and Stoney Point, where a short walk along the beach added
African Black Oystercatcher and Kittlitz's Plover.
The African Penguins were a delight as always, and there were a good number of
large chicks about. All four marine cormorant species were present for comparison
(White-breasted, Cape, Crowned and Bank Cormorant), as were some Swift Terns.
Heading through Betty's Bay we stopped to view a busy Cape Weaver colony and then
headed for a light lunch in the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. After lunch, our walk started
with some excitement when a photographer pointed out a Cape Robin-Chat harassing a
large boomslang up a tree. A flock of Swee Waxbills feeding on the lawn was nice to see, and
we had a good view of a handsome male Cape Rock-Thrush, a species we had missed at
Rooi Els. A male Malachite Sunbird in full breeding plumage was feeding on the flowers of
a fan aloe, Southern Double-collared Sunbirds were plentiful and a female Southern
Boubou showed well. Sombre Greenbuls were heard, but seemed scarcer than usual and
did not show themselves. We also only managed a fleeting glimpse of a Cape Batis.
From Betty's Bay we headed back towards Cape Town, along Baden Powell Drive and into
Strandfontein. One of our first birds after signing in at the main entrance was a pair of
Spotted Thick-knees. Most of the expected waterbirds were seen, with some Black-necked
Grebe present in the large rafts of Little Grebe. A pair of White-backed Duck was a good
sighting, and, although Greater Flamingoes seemed scarce, we eventually found very large
numbers at one of the pans near the sea. Only a single Great White Pelican was about and
strangely, Pied Avocet were absent. We did not see Southern Pochard, African Shelduck or
Purple Swamphen and there was no African Marsh Harrier about, but we did add species such
as Levaillant's Cisticola, African Pipit and Cape Longclaw, as well as Brown-throated
Martin and newly-arrived migrant White-throated Swallow.
We left at about 16h45 and were back at the Waterfront just after 17h15. The day's total was
80 species, of which five were heard only. Overall it was a good day's Cape birding with
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.