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Western Cape: Hottentots Holland Trip Report - 14 July 2015

Highlights included: Brown-backed Honeyguide at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, four species of Cormorant at Stoney Point, and Cape Rockjumper, Sentinel Rock-thrush, Cape Sugarbird and Cape Siskin at Rooi Els.

Total number of species: 45


Detailed Trip Report

We started the day at Rooi Els in very cold and blustery conditions that were not at all conducive to good birding. We did have great views of Cape Sugarbird and Cape Bunting, but after fruitlessly searching the slopes we decided to move on, with the aim of returning later in the day. Conditions at Harold Porter Botanical Gardens were considerably more clement, and our first highlight came in the form of a small flock Swee Waxbill foraging practically at our feet on the lawns. Activity seemed to be concentrated around a prominent stand of aloes near the top of the gardens, where Streaky-headed Seed-eater and Orange-breasted, Southern Double-collared, and Amethyst Sunbirds sipped nectar. Also in the area were , and both Speckled and Red-faced Mousebirds.

Perhaps the best bird of the day then came in the form of a Brown-backed Honeyguide, which gave cracking eye-level views as it snooped about quietly, perhaps prospecting for potential hosts in the form of Karoo Prinia, which is a common bird here. The honeyguide is a notably tricky bird to find in the Western Cape but appears to be increasing in numbers. Another fantastic sighting occurred in the scrubby vegetation above the gardens, where we first heard and then saw a pair of Victorin's Warbler as they crept about in the undergrowth, calling to each other.

After an invigorating lunch we headed out to Stoney Point, where we watched the resident African Penguins going about their business. We had scope views of Cape, White-breasted, Bank and Crowned Cormorants, but it was extremely windy here along the exposed coastline, and so we felt disinclined to hang around.

Back at Rooi Els the contrast to the morning was nothing short of extraordinary. Conditions were serene, and it wasn’t long before we had a pair of Cape Rockjumper foraging in the patch of shorter fynbos which allows the birds to be observed as they move about between the rocks and shrubs. We could hear more individuals calling further up the slope, and after a while, as it somewhat customary, a territorial dispute ensued. These birds truly come to life when in a confrontational frame of mind! At the same spot we also found a female Sentinel Rock-thrush, the much less common of the two Monticola in the Cape. She was moving between the rocky slope and the coast at regular intervals, suggesting she had a nest to attend to, and we soon found her mate foraging quietly further up the slope. Meanwhile a White-necked Raven passed by, and we took some time to admire this powerful corvid.

On the way out we paused for a moment by the car to compile our list for the day, and were about to leave when a soft call alerted us to the presence of a pair of Cape Siskin. These showed beautifully, providing a fine end to an altogether excellent day's birding.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Seth Musker.

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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