Western Cape: Hottentots Holland Trip Report - 22 December 2018
Bird Highlights: Client highlights included views of a single male Cape Rockjumper, numerous Cape Siskins, a juvenile Diederik Cuckoo being fed by its 'parent', a Bar-throated Apalis and African Penguins at Stony Point.
It was great to meet Robert and Stacy and enjoy a day of birding the southern Cape coast near Betty's Bay. Our first stop of the day was the majestic setting of Rooi Els. The prime target at Rooi Els was obviously the famous Cape Rockjumper, but there were multiple immediate distractions. Numerous Cape Siskins greeted us at the start of the gravel road and remained rather numerous throughout the morning. They were dwarfed by two White-necked Ravens that came in flying overhead. There was also a subsequent aerial display from two beautiful Rock Kestrels.
Orange-breasted Sunbirds and at least four Cape Sugarbirds were spotted on flowering Leucadendrons near the houses directly below the gravel road. Out on the rocks leading into the sea, there were distant views of African Black Oystercatcher, Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls and at least one Swift Tern. Then after a little while of searching, the group were alerted to a single male Cape Rockjumper; first by its call but then subsequently by its movement as it came hopping from rock to rock from higher up the slope. After some time with the Rockjumper, we turned back towards the vehicle and managed to connect with Cape Bunting and three Cape Rock Thrush, the latter species comprising a male, female and juvenile.
We then moved on to Stony Point. The main attraction was to see African Penguins which we saw in abundance. It was great to see them in their burrows, resting on land, waddling about and torpedoing through the waves. There were plenty of other birds around too though. The cormorant colony is undoubtedly a major highlight and we predictably saw three species, Cape, White-breasted and the endangered Bank Cormorant at the main colony. Nearby, but away from the colony a fourth species was seen, the diminutive Crowned Cormorant. There were other birds around too. Cape Wagtails were foraging in amongst the penguins. Karoo Prinias and Cape Bulbuls were calling from the dense thickets and on the rocks along the coast there was a pair of African Black Oystercatcher. Red-winged Starlings and Rock Hyrax were spotted on some of the larger boulders. A highlight from Stony Point, however, was a pair of Kittlitz's Plovers with a tiny chick not far from the walkway – all of which posed beautifully for the camera.
From Stony Point we moved on to the beautiful Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. The gardens produced their usual variety of fynbos and forest species. Some highlights included African Paradise Flycatcher, Cape Batis and African Dusky Flycatcher. Three species of sunbird were seen in the fynbos section; Malachite, Southern Doubled-collared and Orange-breasted Sunbirds. A troop of loud Chacma Baboons also made for a pleasant distraction but the clear highlight from the gardens was watching a diminutive, but tireless, Bar-throated Apalis feeding its ‘chick’ - a significantly larger immature Diederik Cuckoo. Overhead there were some interesting species seen including Peregrine Falcon and Black Saw-wing.
After lunch at the Red Disa Restaurant, we headed off to Strandfontein Sewage works for the final site of the day. As is usual with the sewage works, there was abundant bird life and there were numerous highlights. We saw well over 500 gorgeous Greater Flamingoes, a large flock of Great White Pelicans and White Storks. There were numerous other species seen as well. One of the highlights was of a pair of White-faced Ducks, which were foraging in one of the smaller pans. There were huge numbers of Cape Shoveler, Cape and Red-billed Teal and Yellow-billed Ducks. Red-knobbed Coots, Common Moorhen, Pied Avocets, Black-winged Stilts and Black-necked and Little Grebes were also abundant. In one of the smaller pans we encountered two White-faced Duck. There was also a great collection of shorebirds with Marsh and Wood Sandpipers, Little Stints and Water Thick-knees all seen. In the end it was a great day out and I would like to thank the Johnson's for their enthusiasm, patience and general appreciation of the day. It made guiding a real pleasure!
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.
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.
Only a low level of fitness is required.
Throughout the year.
Moderate; can be warm in summer and chilly in winter.
A good standard of accommodation in guest houses, lodges and small hotels.
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.