Western Cape: Hottentots Holland Trip Report - 28 October 2015
Highlights included: Cape Siskin, Cape Grassbird, Cape Rock-Thrush and Cape Rockjumper at Rooi Els; Brimstone Canary, African Paradise Flycatcher and more Cape Siskin at Harold Porter; and all four species of coastal Cormorant, in addition to African Penguin and an adorable litter of tiny Rock Hyrax at Stoney Point.
The day began at Rooi Els in calm, clear conditions. Our first stop immediately provided decent looks at Cape Siskin - not a bad bird to start the day off with! The fynbos was alive with bird song, and we soon picked up Cape Sugarbird, Cape Grassbird, Cape Bulbul and Cape Bunting. A few Greater Striped Swallows broke the monotony of birds named after the Cape, but we got back on track with a Cape Rock-Thrush calling from atop a nearby house.
Continuing on foot, we picked up our first Orange-breasted Sunbirds, as well as Yellow Bishop, Grey-backed Cisticola, and White-necked Raven. Two specials were heard calling very distantly: Victorin’s Warbler and Ground Woodpecker. Careful scanning of the distant cliffs yielded no sign of the latter. However, we soon heard Cape Rockjumper calling from a similar area, and fortunately another group soon replied from further downslope, a little way on. Moving on, we did eventually spot a male Rockjumper perched quite distantly, but the glare from the sun meant that the views were less than satisfactory. We decided to move on and return later in the day for better looks.
At Harold Porter Botanical Gardens our ramblings produced a few new birds, including Brimstone Canary, Sombre Greenbul, African Paradise Flycatcher, Speckled Mousebird, Bar-throated Apalis, Neddicky, and much better views of Cape Siskin. We had an early lunch as a frontal system began to move in, cooling things down considerably.
Our next stop was Stoney Point, where many of the resident African Penguin were in various stages of moult, from the incredibly fat ones (seemingly double their normal size) to those in the latter stages: grey, grizzly and decidedly skinny. We enjoyed good looks at Cape, White-breasted, Bank and Crowned Cormorants, many of which were in fine breeding plumage. One of the highlights of the day then came in the form of a family of Rock Hyrax, or 'Dassie', including about 20 very young and absolutely adorable ‘pups’. We spent a delightful quarter of an hour watching their antics before finally tearing ourselves away, the thought of better views of the Rockjumpers giving us the necessary fortitude.
Our sacrifice was to prove worthwhile, as not long after arriving at Rooi Els we picked up a large dark shape swooping between the boulders – classic Cape Rockjumper. Although still quite distant, the birds were a little closer than before and the light was far better, and we enjoyed good scope views as a trio of these unusual birds foraged in the rougher fynbos. An added bonus was having further good looks at Cape Siskin. The drive home was uneventful, with the exception of a nice fly-by from a Jackal Buzzard.
A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Seth Musker.
For a full list of species from this trip, please
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