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.
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
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