Thomas and Linda Nolle and I met in Cape Town and began our journey towards a Hottentots Holland range covered by a thick blanket of rolling fog. Sure enough, this manifested at ground level as a howling, gusty south-easter. Conditions at Rooi Els were abysmal and we decided rather to spend the morning at Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, returning to Rooi Els later when the wind was set to die down.
This proved to be a wise move, as the gardens were far more clement. We were greeted by a group of White-rumped Swifts enjoying the lively weather, and then by the distinctive song of a Brimstone Canary, which we soon spotted atop a nearby tree. We also had a single Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, a relatively recent colonist of the south-western Cape. A few Speckled Mousebirds sat up on a nearby bush, and we picked up some of the more common garden residents, including Fiscal Flycatcher, Olive Thrush, Karoo Prinia, Cape Robin-Chat, Cape Canary and Southern Double-collared Sunbird.
Moving into the wilder sections gave us our first views of Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird, and later, some patient waiting near a flowering pincushion provided good photographic opportunities of both of these species. The remarkably far-carrying call of a Cape Rock-Thrush alerted us to the presence of a distant male, which we soon spotted. Perhaps the best bird of the day then came when we spotted a group of Ground Woodpeckers very high up among the cliffs overlooking Luiperdskloof. Though distant, the birds showed clearly, and we were able to appreciate their striking pink belly patches.
Our first new bird upon re-entering the tended gardens was the very cute Swee Waxbill, a small covey of which were foraging on the lawns. We then explored the forested section on the way to Disa Kloof. African Paradise Flycatcher and Bar-throated Apalis were very vocal but could not be tracked down, but we did manage excellent sightings of African Dusky Flycatcher (an adult feeding a youngster), a very dapper male Cape Batis, and the insuppressibly joyful Sombre Greenbul.
After lunch, during which we added another good bird in the form of a juvenile Amethyst Sunbird, we set out for Rooi Els. Sadly, conditions were quite hot and still rather windy, making for slow going. Nevertheless, we added a few new birds including Neddicky, Grey-backed Cisticola, Yellow Bishop in bumblebee display, a cracking Jackal Buzzard soaring low, an obliging Cape Bunting, and a female Cape Rock-Thrush with a very large green caterpillar in her bill, presumably intended for her latest progeny. We heard a group of Cape Rockjumpers calling very high upslope but sadly could not locate them, and with time running out we were forced to quit the search. Decent scope views of a Cape Grassbird were some consolation, however, and we headed back to Cape Town satisfied with a productive day's birding.
A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Seth Musker.
For a full list of species from this trip, please
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,
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Many participants on our tours and day trips are amateur wildlife
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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
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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 is a specialist birding
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