Itinerary: We visited key sites in the Hottentots Holland
area of the Western Cape including Rooiels, Harold Porter National
Botanical Garden, Stony Point and Macassar Waste Water Treatment
Number of bird species: 98
Highlights: Cape Rock-jumper, Cape Sugarbird,
Cape Rock-Thrush, Orange-breasted Sunbird,
Olive Woodpecker, Swee Waxbill,
African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Grassbird,
African Penguin, Cape Gannet and
all five possible cormorant species.
We also saw mammals such as Rock Hyrax and Klipspringer
and reptiles such as Cape Dwarf Chameleon (caught
by a Cape Rock-jumper!), Southern Rock Agama and
Cape Girdled Lizard. See some photographs below.
The day started bright and early with a leisurely
drive along Clarence Drive heading for the tiny coastal village
of Rooiels, undoubtedly the most accessible site for Cape Rock-jumper
in the world, although they are by no means guaranteed. On the way
we were rewarded with several sightings of Cape Rock-Thrush
along the Hottentots Holland mountains and foraging groups of Cape
Gannets were unusually common over False Bay.
A cool breeze greeted us at Rooiels as a few Red-winged
Starlings announced our arrival. A female Cape
Rock-Thrush provided prolonged views and a pair of
Cape Sugarbirds popped into view from the fynbos along
the gravel path. Flowering Erica brachialis and
E. pulchella attracted large numbers of Orange-breasted,
Southern Double-collared and Malachite
Sunbirds, although males of the latter were all in eclipse
plumage. A strange cellphone-like bleating call alerted us to a
Cape Grassbird nearby, and the bird showed briefly
before diving back into cover. Cape Buntings were
common as always and we also saw both Cape and
Southern Masked-Weaver. Walking along the path
we scanned the boulder-strewn slope for any activity and noticed
a small foraging flock of Yellow Bishops. Suddenly
a larger bird hopped onto a rock – Cape Rock-jumper!
Initially only a male was seen but soon the female made an appearance.
The birds were very confiding and seemed unperturbed by our presence,
allowing us amazing close-up views. At one stage we witnessed the
male Cape Rock-jumper catch and devour a juvenile Cape Dwarf
Chameleon. We had to drag ourselves away to search for
more goodies and found Grey-backed Cisticola, Familiar
Chat, Karoo Prinia, Rock Martin,
Cape Bulbul, White-necked Raven
and a Klipspringer.
Next stop was the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in Betty’s
Bay. Here Sombre Greenbuls were calling everywhere
but it took us a while to see one high in a Cape Beech.
Black Saw-wings flitted over the riverine vegetation
and we were rewarded later with one sitting in a Keurboom
tree (Virgilia sp.) The forest along Disa Kloof produced
Cape Robin-chat, Olive Thrush,
African Paradise-Flycatcher, Cape Batis,
several very tame African Dusky Flycatchers and
Olive Woodpecker. Victorin’s Warbler
called loudly from thick fynbos cover. Another highlight was a group
of Swee Waxbills feeding on the seeds of Setaria
megaphylla grass growing next to the footpath. We had lunch
at the Leopards Kloof Restaurant while listening to a disjunct chorus
of Cape River Frogs before we left for the African
Penguin colony at Stony Point.
Stony Point is one of two land-based African Penguin breeding colonies
in South Africa. The colony has grown considerably over the last
few years and is now home to about 150 pairs of penguins. At the
end of February most penguins have completed their moult and some
are already starting to breed. Stony Point is also home to three
endemic marine cormorant species, the Cape, Bank
and Crowned Cormorants, as well as White-breasted
Cormorant. We saw all of these, including African
Black Oystercatcher, Hartlaub’s Gull,
Kelp Gull and Cape Wagtail foraging
amongst the breeding penguins. Offshore, Cape Gannets
entertained us with their spectacular plunge-diving acrobatics.
Other wildlife at Stony Point included Rock Hyrax,
Southern Rock Agama and Cape Girdled Lizard.
On the way back to the car park we chanced upon a covey of Cape
Spurfowls and Helmeted Guineafowls. A
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow was a nice surprise
and a very confiding Cape Grassbird provided extended
views just before we left for Macassar.
The Macassar Waste Water Treatment Works is situated at the estuary
of the Eerste River and a large selection of fresh water and marine
birds are on show. At the entrance a group of four very vocal Pearl-breasted
Swallows was on view. Roosting Caspian, Swift,
Sandwich and Common Terns, were
present at the estuary, as well as African Black Duck,
Reed Cormorant and African Darter.
The open settling ponds had Cape Teal, Egyptian
Goose, Red-billed Teal, Yellow-billed
Duck, Cape Shoveler and Southern
Pochard. Raptors included Peregrine Falcon,
Steppe Buzzard, Jackal Buzzard
and Black-shouldered Kite. Other good birds added
to our list were Fiscal Flycatcher, Levaillant’s
Cisticola, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Malachite
Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Egret, Purple
Heron, Common Greenshank and Black-winged
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.