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Western Cape: Hottentots Holland Trip Report - 21 December 2015

Highlights included: a family group of Cape Rockjumpers at Rooi Els; Cape Siskin, Cape Grassbird, Ground Woodpecker and Victorin's Warbler at Harold Porter; and all four species of coastal cormorant at the Stoney Point African Penguin colony.

Total number of species: 54


Detailed Trip Report

Pat, George and I made an early start east towards the Hottentots Holland mountain range and the small town of Rooi Els, nestled between mountain and sea. En route we stopped to look at a flock of birds feeding offshore, which included a few Cape Gannets in addition to Swift and Sandwich Terns. The birding started off a little slowly, but we picked up Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin and a female Cape Rock-Thrush close to the houses. A Neddicky called from high up-slope and we had decent scope views of this cute cisticola. A Familiar Chat perched on a nearby boulder, and while we were watching it a male Cape Rockjumper unexpectedly popped out from behind it. Before long it became clear that we were in the company of a family group consisting of a pair, a male helper, and a juvenile bird. We had excellent scope views as they hopped around, foraged, and called intermittently. There was some rain about, and as it seemed to be closing in, we decided to head back to the car.

At the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens the rain had begun and seemed to be setting in, so we decided to wait the worst of it out in the restaurant. We were to endure intermittent squalls for the rest of the morning's birding, but it was worth it. We had good sightings of Cape Batis, Swee Waxbill, Bar-throated Apalis, Malachite Sunbird, Speckled Mousebird, African Paradise-Flycatcher, displaying Yellow Bishop, better sightings of Cape Siskin, and then some of the trickier species: Cape Grassbird, distant Ground Woodpecker, and Victorin's Warbler.

Stoney Point had the usual crowd of African Penguins, now in various stages of moult. A Southern Boubou called from atop a bush, and the resident Rock Hyrax and Cape Girdled Lizards lounged about on the rocks. We found Cape, White-breasted and Bank Cormorants without difficulty, but struggled for the last of Stoney Point's cormorants. After having almost given up, George spotted a distant cormorant sitting apart from the others, and upon closer inspection it turned out to be exactly what we were searching for - a Crowned Cormorant. Nearby, a pair of African Black Oystercatcher foraged in the tidal pools.

We popped in again at Rooi Els on the way back to search for some birds missed earlier, and managed to find a male Cape Rock-Thrush as well as Cape Bunting. The day was notable for its complete lack of raptors, but we had good sightings of all the Cape specials usually seen on this trip.

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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