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Western Cape Tour, Hottentots Holland, 25 August 2011

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

Itinerary: We visited key sites in the Hottentots Holland region such as Rooi Els, Betty's Bay, Stoney Point, Harold Porter Botanic Gardens, followed by Strandfontein

Number of bird species: 80

Highlights: Cape Rockjumper, Ground Woodpecker, Cape Rock-Thrush, Malachite Sunbird in full breeding plumage,
Swee Waxbill, Cape Robin-chat harassing a boomslang, African Penguin,

Mammals: Chacma Baboons and Rock Hyrax

Detailed Trip Report

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.

Southern Boubou photographed by Otto Schmidt on a Birding Africa Tour
Southern Boubou © Otto Schmidt

Dikkop photographed by Otto Schmidt on a Birding Africa Tour
Spotted Thick-knee © Otto Schmidt

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 excellent weather.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Otto Schmidt.

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

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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