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Western Cape: Hottentots Holland Trip Report - 19 October 2015

Highlights included: distant views of Ground Woodpecker, as well as Amethyst Sunbird and some good forest birding at Betty's Bay, and Cape Rock-Thrush and Cape Grassbird at a windy Rooi Els.

Total number of species: 42


Detailed Trip Report

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 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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