I met clients, Douglas and France, at their accommodation in Bishops Court before heading off along the very scenic road to Rooi Els. Douglas and France are from the Washington, D.C. area and were looking to add some bulk to their South African and broader lists, as well as wanting to see Cape Rockjumpers, hence our first stop.
We almost immediately heard the Rockjumpers on arrival, however the calls were coming from way up high on the slope and no movement was detected. We decided to carry on and hope for better luck later. While on the hunt we were distracted by Orange-breasted, Malachite, and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Bunting, a White-necked Raven, and two glorious Verreaux's Eagles soaring up high along the cliffs.
A little way on we managed to find both male and female Cape Rock Thrush, a male Yellow Bishop moulting into breeding plumage, and a number of Cape Weavers. Despite hearing plenty Cape Grassbird we didn't manage to spot any. While we stopped and scanned the boulders I picked up two dark forms moving through the grass. These turned out to be a pair of Cape Rockjumpers, which I got France and Douglas onto very quickly. This was enough for the tick, but they weren’t the most satisfying views as the birds were 100 m away and showing erratically. We walked down further until the thicker bushes, and then turned round for the uphill trudge. Along the way France manage to locate a single Rockjumper which showed much better, and everybody got good looks at it with the spotting scope.
We moved on from there to Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. We had decided to skip the regular stop at Stony Point, as Douglas and France had already seen the African Penguins on a trip to Robben Island, and they had mopped up all the cormorant species already too! So we took a walk through the gardens to begin with, easily picking up Cape Wagtail, Cape Robin-chat, Cape Siskin, Neddicky, Swee and Common Waxbill, Southern Fiscal, Fiscal and African Dusky Flycatchers and Cape Bulbul. The slightly demanding walk into the Leopard's Kloof was made worth it by a fantastic sighting of 8 Cape Batis performing their frog-like symphony for us in the treetops for around 10 minutes. We enjoyed the peace of the pools and waterfalls at the top, and I showed Douglas and France the Red Disa (Disa uniflora) that is flowering at the moment above the third pool, and which the restaurant down below is named after! From the lunch table we added Black Saw-Wing, and a pesky Babboon which was attempting to steal food from some of the deserted tables!
From Harold Porter we came back down the N2 and off down the R310 to Strandfontein, which proved to be the highlight of the trip along with the Cape Rockjumper. France enjoyed seeing the Greater Flamingo comically feeding while floating atop the water, with its feet in the air and head deep underwater. Other good species we saw at Strandfontein included the semi-resident African Jacana, Lesser Flamingo, African Purple Swamphen, Southern Pochard, Maccoa Duck, Cape and Red-billed Teal, South African Shelduck, Glossy Ibis, Great White Pelican, African Goshawk (which was new for me at Strandfontein), Little and Black-necked Grebes, African Black-winged Stilt (another comic species for the Americans), Long-billed Pipit, Levaillant's and Zitting Cisticolas, Little Rush and Lesser Swamp Warblers, and African Marsh Harrier.
All in all it was a successful day's outing, topped off with a Black Sparrowhawk in Bishops Court upon arrival back at the accommodation, which was bird species number 100 for the day.
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
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
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
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.