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Western & Northern Cape trip report: Kgalagadi Tour: 14 - 30 September 2012

Itinerary: Cape Town, Betty's Bay, Cape Town Pelagics, Langebaan, Clanwilliam, Springbok, Augrabies, Kgalagadi, Kenhardt, Prince Albert, Wilderness and De Hoop Nature Reserve.

286 BIRD SPECIES !! Highlights include: Cape Rockjumper, Aghulas Long-billed Lark, Cape Siskin, Black Harrier, African Black Oystercatcher, Southern & Northern Black Korhaan, Blue Crane, Kori Bustard... and many more.

Birding in Namaqualand © Dalton Gibbs on a Birding Africa tour
Birding amongst the Namaqualand spring flowers © Dalton Gibbs

40 Mammal and reptile species: including Lion, Caracal, Black-backed Jackal, South African Ground Squirrel, Meerkat, Yellow Mongoose, Rock Hyrax, Chacma Baboon, Eland, Oryx, Cape Mountain Zebra, Springbok, Klipspringer, Aardwolf,
Small Spotted Genet, Scrub Hare, Smith's Red Rock Rabbit, Gemsbok, Blue Wildebeest, Angulate Tortoise, Puffadder, Common Dolphin, Cape Fur Seal, Southern Right Whale.

Lion cubs seen at Kgalagadi on a Birding Africa tour © Dalton Gibbs
Lion seen at Kgalagadi during a Birding Africa Tour

Trip Summary

On this trip we did and saw practically everything that the Fynbos andsemi arid south western corner of Africa has to offer. In birding terms the highendemism of semi arid loving bird species, particularly amongst larks, is of note.With the trip running in spring we were treated to spectacular flower displaysacross the Northern Cape.

The road trip started in the fynbos of Cape Town,traveling up the west coast, swinging inland and northwards to the Kalahari region and then southwards through the arid Karoo, over the coastal mountains and on to the forested south coast before heading back to Cape Town. This route encompassed four of the seven biome types found in South Africa andfocused on the semi-arid zone African endemic species found along the southwestern coast of the continent.

Secretary Bird seen at Kgalagadi on a Birding Africa Tour © Dalton Gibbs
Secretary Bird seen at Kgalagadi on a Birding Africa Tour © Dalton Gibbs

Detailed Trip Report

Day 1 : Cape Town, Rooi Els and Betty's Bay

We headed out for the day with Cape Rockjumper as our main target bird in the mountains east of Cape Town. We stopped en route to come to terms with common speciessuch as Karoo Prinia, Cape White-eye, Cape Bunting, Cape Turtle Dove,Cape Sparrow and Cape Robin-chat. Hartlaubs and Kelp Gulls followed before we headed along the tracks at Rooi Els. We got good views of Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Rock Thrush, but unfortunately no rockjumpers.

We headed to Kleinmond for lunch, getting some seabirds along the coast, Cape Cormorant and Swift Tern. On to Harold PorterBotanical Gardens and some forest birds were about - SouthernDouble-collared Sunbird, Swee Waxbill, Southern Boubou, Cape Spurfowl,Black Saw-wing Swallow and Cape Batis amongst others. We had good viewsof the endemic Cape Siskin, but Victorin's Warbler, after only a few return calls,failed to make any effort to stick its head out.

Moving on we headed for the penguin colony at Stoney Point. Although it wasalready closed, we could not miss the African Penguins who were less than ametre away on the other side of the fence - we did not need the scope for thisone! Apart from the sleepy Rock Hyrax (Dassies) we also picked up CrownedCormorant, a west coastal endemic.

Day 2 : Hout Bay (Pelagic) and Rondevlei Nature Reserve

Click for the detailed trip report from our Cape Town Pelagics website.
After the pelagics trip we travelled across the mountain to Rondevlei Nature Reserve,where we had supper overlooking the water body, picking up Water Thick-Kneebefore heading back to the guesthouse.

Day 3 : Kirstenbosch, Rooi Els and Strandfontein

We started early arriving at Kirstenbosch top gate with the first early morningwalkers. Sombre Greenbul were calling all around as we headed for thetop garden where we found Cape Sugarbird and Malachite Sunbird onflowering proteas. Helmeted Guineafowl were about, with brief views of AfricanOlive Pigeon doing a fly over. After a forest walk we set off for a localforest patch, where we picked up Forest Buzzard.

Off to Rooi Els for another shot at Cape Rockjumper. The bird frustratingly called several times, but didn't show itself. Eventually after walking up the mountainside, a male showed himselflong enough for everyone to get a look. On the way out we encountered a largetroop of Chacma baboons that were moving through the houses at Rooi Els.

After lunch we set off for Standfontein, were we picked up numbers of waterbird species such as Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, Red-billed Teal, Black-necked Grebe and AfricanMarsh Harrier. Our arrival at Strandfontein coincided with the spectacle of several hundred pink-wingedGreater Flamingos performing a fly by. We stayed here until sun down, getting pinksunset views of Great White Pelican.

Day 4 : Cape Town, Blaauwberg, Darling, Yzerfontein, Langebaan and West Coast National Park

We left early to avoid the traffic and were soon on the shores of the west coast.A walk on the beach turned up White-fronted Plover with Cape and Crowned Cormorants in attendance on the rocks. Next we headed for Darling where we found our first Blue Cranes performing nuptial displays amongst Spur-winged and Egyptian Geese. Pied Starlings appeared along with White-throated Swallows that were knocking about. Next to the road we found Red Bishop, Cape Weaver, Southern Masked Weaver and our first lark, a Southern Large-billed Lark.

At Tienie Versveld Reserve we admired the colours and varieties of the springflowers, turning up Cloud Cisticola and Red-capped Lark.At Yzerfontien we stopped off at the gypsum mine and found several Chestnut-bandedPlovers and some Angulate Tortoises. We grabbed a take-away lunch and entered the West Coast National Park, travelling toTzarsbank on the coast to eat. En route we found a plain with feeding antelope,including Eland, Oryx, Cape Mountain Zebra and Springbok. On the coastamongst the dunes and crashing waves we enjoyed lunch accompanies by the usualcoastal birds, African Black Oystercatcher, Kelp and Hartlaubs Gulls. CapeFur Seals covered a near by coastal island and lines of Cape Cormorants andCape Gannet flew across the sea.

We headed for the Abramskraal waterhole, coming across a Puffadder crossing the road. The waterhole had Yellow Canary - new for our trip, whilst we had Southern Black Korhaan calling nearby, but couldn't find the bird. Whilst looking for it we had a Caracal walk out some way off in the open. This was unfortunately only seen by some of us, as at exactly the same time aSteenbok walked out right in front of our car.

At the Geelbek hide we picked up some waders and Greater Flamingo, withrather distant views of Black Harrier and a displaying Southern Black Korhaan.With the day drawing to a close we headed for Langebaan for the night, gettinggreat views of Grey-winged Francolin en route.

Day 5 : Langebaan, Jacobsbaai, Velddrif, Paradyskloof and Clanwilliam

We headed for Jacobsbaai early in the morning, finding calling Southern BlackKorhaan nearby. In Jacobsbaai we found Karoo Lark amongst beautiful coastalflowers and on the way out of town Cape Long-billed Lark next to the road. At Velddrif we stopped at the estuary to pick up Lesser Flamingo and several wader species found at the local bird hide.

Cape Sugarbird © Callan Cohen www.birdingafrica.com

We headed northwards, turning into Paradyskloof. There was light rain in the kloof and it was fairly quiet, with only a pair of Verreaux's Eagle that moved across our path. John spotted a pairof Klipspringer antelope that were very well camouflaged as they sat on the hillside watching us. Travelling on to Clanwilliam we dropped off our bags and headed out of town to the Cedarberg mountains. At the foot of the Pakhuis Pass we had Layard's Tit-babbler and a great fly by from Black Harrier.Higher up, we found Protea Canary and Cape Sugarbird amongst the rockformations. We drove on to see the view of the Karoo escarpment and with nightcoming and temperatures dropping; we set off back for Clanwilliam, picking upSpotted Eagle Owl en route.

Day 6 : Clanwilliam, Kamieskroon, Gamoep and Springbok

This day was primarily a traveling day as we headed northwards, often stoppingto do some roadside birding at appropriate spots. At Kamieskroon we turned offthe national road and started along a gravel road that took us up and into the granite hillsthat make this area so picturesque. In these hills we soon found MountainWheatear, Lark-like Bunting, Black-headed Canary, Karoo Chat, Sickle-wingChat, and Fairy Flycatcher. We drove through field upon field of spring flowersthat looked like someone had sprayed painted the landscape after having beento a closing down paint sale for the colours yellow, pink and blue. These flowers,contrasting with the huge granite rocks, made for an unforgettable landscape.We stopped off for lunch, with Black-chested Snake Eagle giving us a fly over.As we drove on towards Springbok, we found a Greenshank in an impossiblysmall puddle in the middle of nowhere. Hillsides were covered with kokerboomtrees - large aloes that grow several meters tall. Karoo Korhaan appeared alongwith Pale-chanting Goshawk perched on granite boulders and Red-cappedLarks, Large-billed Larks and small flocks of Namaqua Sandgrouse rose fromthe roadside as we drove on. The brilliantly shiny Cape Glossy Starling hungabout in pairs, whilst we found our first group of South African GroundSquirrels being followed around by a Yellow Mongoose. We passed throughthe small metropolis of Gamoep to approach Springbok at nightfall. Thisproduced the bulky Cape Eagle Owl on a telephone pole near the town beforewe arrived at our guesthouse.

Day 7 : Springbok, Port Nolloth and Goegap Nature Reserve

We started early, heading towards the coast and dropping down tothe dry coastal plains that are influenced by the cold Benguela current that flowsup along Africa's west coast. A roadside stop produced Karoo Long-billed Lark,Black Harrier, Red-eyed Bulbul and Karoo Lark, with Pale Chanting andGreater Kestrel on many of the telephone poles. In Port Nolloth we headednorth of the town and soon found Cape Long-billed and Barlow's Lark, ourmain target species for the day.

Mission accomplished we headed to Springbok, picked up lunch and headed forthe Goegap Nature Reserve. Here we saw Bokmakierie, Black-chestedPrinia and some very tame Mountain Wheatear. We found the unusualDassie rat mammal in a rock crack and then had excellent views of Cinnamon-breastedWarbler in the rock piles, with Gemsbok and Springbok on the plainsof the park. From Goegap we worked the plains further inland, finding White-throatedCanary and returning at sunset to find Cape Eagle Owl once more.

Day 8 : Springbok, Gamoep, Poffadder and Augrabies National Park

This day saw us travelling inland and north into the semi arid interior and soonafter leaving Springbok we had encountered brilliant views of Meerkat, followedby Ludwig's Bustard and Red Lark, two target species for the day. The RedLark we found was a red colour that reflected the red sands of the area and toAngela's delight matched the picture in the book! We were starting to fall in lovewith the larks that are only found in this dry corner of Africa.

Meerkat seen on a Birding Africa Tour © Dalton Gibbs
Meerkat family seen on a Birding Africa Tour

Northern Black Korhaan on a Birding Africa tour © Dalton Gibbs
Northern Black Korhaan on a Birding Africa tour © Dalton Gibbs

Onwards we started to meet some arid species; Social Weaver appeared withtheir huge nests hanging off camel thorn trees and telephone poles. NamaquaDove, with their hugely differing male and female plumage, appeared innumbers. We encountered our first Northern Black Korhaan amongst the dry plans and our first Orange River White-eye in a dry river bed. Passing throughthe town of Pofadder we found Stark's Lark, another dry land endemic.We passed through the agricultural fields along Orange River, seeing a passingGoliath Heron and lots of Red Bishops. Checking into Augrabies National Parkwe soon found Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and at the waterfalls were lots ofAlpine Swift. It took some time to work through them all to find Bradfield'sSwift.

In the evening the gang went for a night drive, turning up Aardwolf, Caracal,Small Spotted Genet, Scrub Hare and Smith's Red Rock Rabbit amongstother larger mammals.

Day 9 : Augrabies National Park, Upington and Kgalagadi National Park

The morning's walk to the waterfalls turned up African Reed Warbler and a fewWhite-backed Mousebird. After breakfast we drove through the interior section,seeing the unusual Hamerkop several times before finding a very obligingKlipspringer who sat on a rock nearby. Namaqua Warbler called a few times, butwould not show themselves, we had close up views of many scrub birds, including Pririt Batis.

We left the park and headed northwards towards the arid lands of the KgalagadiNational Park. In the last town, Upington, we stopped for lunch, a petrol fill upand to buy supplies. The road for the next two hundred kilometers was prettystraight, but the tedium of the open road was alleviated by the sounds of the"Party Hits 40" that got a lot of spin time in the CD player. Passing camel thorntrees heard the distinct sounds of "YMCA" and the Southern Yellow-billedHornbills flushed to the strains of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". A stop along the road delivered White-browed Sparrow-weavers, whose untidynests had started to become common in the thorn trees. White-backed Vultureperformed a fly over and we saw our first Tawny Eagle.

Upon checking into Kgalagadi National Park we immediately encountered Scaly-featheredFinch, which is common in the park. Whilst there was still light we set off for a short drive , picking up Crimson-breasted Shrike, which ishard to miss with its blood red colouring. Flocks of Red-billed Quelea hungaround the waterholes, intermingled with Namaqua Sandgrouse. Mammals suchas Blue Wildebeest, Gemsbok, Springbok and Steenbok were dotted across thelandscape. Apart from Ostrich, which are obviously large, the other huge birdthat we found was Kori Bustard, four of which we saw during our late afternoon drive.We headed back to the rest camp and supper before heading off on a night drive. On this we turned up some interesting mammals, including gorgeous little Spring-hares, Cheetah and Caracal.

Sociable Weaver nests on a Birding Africa Tour Kori Bustard © Dalton Gibbs during a Birding Africa Tour
Sociable Weaver nests in the thorn trees; and a Kori Bustard seen in the Northern Cape

Day 10 : Kgalagadi National Park

At daybreak we did some birding around the rest camp, turning up PurpleRoller, Ground Scraper Thrush, Common Scimitarbill and a Barn Owl ofwhich we had fine flight views after Dave managed to get it to come out of itsroosting place. During breakfast we watched a Pearl-spotted Owlet from therestaurant before setting out and traveling north west up along a dry river bed.Apart from the larger obvious mammals; we had good views of Meerkat, SouthAfrican Ground Squirrel and Yellow Mongoose.

We came across an early morning birding party, picking up splendid Violet-earedWaxbill, Ashy Tit, Scaly-feather Finch, Yellow Canary and Lark-like Bunting. Anearby waterhole was full of Burchell's Sandgrouse coming in to drink. Movingon we found the bizarre long-legged Secretary Bird, a pair of which werenesting on a low flat thorn tree. Pygmy Falcon were on Acacia trees or hijackingSociable Weaver nests as we turned off the dry river bed and into the redundulating dune fields of the Kalahari with a bush fire burning off in the distance.We watched a Black-backed Jackal have a stand off at a waterhole with agroup of Springbok who pretended to be brave and ignore it. We picked upFawn-coloured Lark and Karoo Long-billed Lark in the grassland, with SabotaLark in the shrub calling from bushes.

We stopped at one of the picnic sites and fried up some lunch, beingaccompanied by very tame Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Cape Turtle Doveand Black Crow. We headed eastwards towards the other dry river bed andheaded back. Some 30kms before the rest camp we came across a Gemsbokstanding in the shade of a tree; closer examination revealed that the lumps somefew metres away from the Gemsbok were in fact nine Lions sleeping in theshade.

This was close to us and we could clearly see that the Gemsbok was worse forwear, with rack marks down its hind quarters and a bleeding throat wound. It wasnever the less still on its feet, but making no effort what so ever to try escape.The lions comprise of a group of two females and seven cubs of different agegroups. The mothers had probably wounded the Gemsbok to such an extent thatit could not flee and were waiting for dark for the cubs to dispatch it. Suchbehaviour is often used by predators to teach their offspring the finer arts ofhunting and killing prey.

We watched this unusual scene for some time before we had to head back tocamp, arriving in time to take an early evening night drive which was aimed at thetwilight animal species. Firstoff after leaving the camp on this drive was aVerreaux's Eagle-Owl which had a nest on top of a Sociable Weaver nest; itsmate was a short way off providing good views. Red-necked Falcon followedbefore it started to get dark and we found African Wild Cat, Bat-eared Fox andthen Cape Fox, a species John had been searching for for some time.We got back and had supper before turning in after a wonderful day's outing.

Day 11 : Kgalagadi, Upington and Kenhardt

We were up early and forgoing breakfast we headed straight out into the park towhere we had left the hapless Gemsbok and the sleeping lions. By the time wearrived there were several other cars and the Gemsbok had been reduced to acarcass which got smaller each minute we watched.

Black-backed Jackal photographed by Dalton Gibbs on a Birding Africa tour
Black-backed Jackal photographed by Dalton Gibbs on a
Birding Africa Tour © Dalton Gibbs.
The young lions took turns to tear chunks off the carcass and roll around on the ground playing. A nearby colony of Ground Squirrels would pop out of theirholes standing up on their hind legs to watch the action. A young lioncouldn't resist and every now and then would stalk across and try to getat a squirrel, which would naturally disappear underground only to reappear afew meters away. This would initiate another round of stalking and leaping by the lion cub, who would be amazed by the sudden disappearance of its prey. Thiswould repeat itself until the young lion, stomach bulging, would make its wayacross to its siblings and collapse in the shade. A few minutes later, anotheryoung lion having watched this entire performance and unable to endurethe stares of the Ground Squirrels would haul itself, and its large belly, off theground and stalk across to try its luck ...and so the show would start again. Theadult female lion would of course; have nothing to do with this juvenile tom fooleryand lay by herself near to the carcass in a patch of shade.

Over the next hour Black-backed Jackals appeared upwind of the carcass andvery carefully moved closer, extremely nervous - they scattered at theslightest sign of movement, but over time grew bolder. After a few hours wedecided to take a break from the lions and headed north, seeing many of the dryland species from the previous day, including an incredibly vivid red colouredSlender Mongoose that dug at Gerbil burrows a few meters from our vehicle.By the time we returned to the Gemsbok carcass, the Black-backed Jackal hadgot to the meat and were dragging pieces off into the grass. With the sun well upin the sky we had to leave and headed back to the park entrance, stopping tohave a late breakfast before heading back to Upington, on the way we gota very brief view of a Burchell's Courser which disappeared into the vegetation on the road verge.

From Upington we covered the few hundred kilometers southwards toward thetown of Kenhardt, stopping to watch the sunset before checking into our Hotel, which appeared to have gleaned much of its inspiration from Fawlty Towers!

Day 12 : Kenhardt, Brandvlei and Prince Albert

We had an early breakfast and were on the road by 08:00; heading south across thestraight dry roads of the Karoo. We came to the town of Brandvlei and stoppedat a dry river bed and tried for Namaqua Warbler, eventually having onerespond and come close for good views. We traveled on, trying for KarooEremomela, but failing to get any response. By this stage the day was gettingwarmer, so we checked water dams for larks. Grey-backed Sparrow-lark,Namaqua Dove, Lark-like Bunting and Large-billed Lark were about and after awhile of waiting, a small pale lark came in to drink. A quick scope view confirmedthat this was Sclater's Lark, which completed our list of desert lark species!Traveling on we passed through small Karoo towns; in Fraserberg arriving in themiddle of the towns annual end of the year high school dance; a major event onthe town's calendar with everyone dressed up to the nines!

We traveled on and at sunset stopped on the magnificent Teekloofpass to scan.This was rewarded with a pair of Verreaux's Eagles, Pale-winged Starlings anda family group of Ground Woodpeckers who showed really well. We reachedthe lowlands. It was dark by the time we entered the town of Prince Albert.

Magnificent scenery from the Swartberg Pass on a Birding Africa Tour
Enjoying the spectacular Swartberg Pass during a Birding Africa Tour © Dalton Gibbs

Day 13 : Prince Albert, Oudtshoorn and Wilderness

Since we arrived in the dark, we awoke the next morning to the beautiful KarooView guest house that we were staying in, with White-backed Mousebirds in thegarden. After breakfast we set off to tackle the mountains and cross theSwartberg Pass; a mountain pass cut through narrow sandstone gorges withmagnificent views over the Karoo to the north. Traveling up the pass we foundStreaky-headed Seedeater and at the top of the mountain we moved fromKaroo vegetation into Cape Fynbos. This allowed us to find the endemicVictorin's Warbler, with two male birds giving us great views. We were back inProtea veld and saw Cape Sugarbird feeding on the proteas.

We stopped at the top for lunch before descending the wetter southern slopestowards the valley of Oudtshoorn. Here a roadside stop turned up Neddickywhich was new. We crossed the last set of mountains, the Outeniqua range,which was wrapped in clouds as we descended onto the coastal plain along theIndian Ocean. In the town of Wilderness we stopped at the Kaaimans River tosearch for African Finfoot, but only turned up commoner water birds. We carriedon to the Wilderness section of the National Park where we checked into ouraccommodation. This area was forest and we soon found Greater Doublecollaredand Amethyst Sunbirds, with Sombre Greenbul calling from almostevery tree. In front of the chalets was a very active weaver colony, with Cape andSouthern Masked Weavers building nests.As the sun was setting we did some easy bird around the camp, findingTerrestrial Brownbul and Cape Batis near our accommodation. After supper we turned in to the sounds of Wood Owl and Fiery-necked Nightjars.

Day 14 : Wilderness and Karatara

We started the day early,During breakfast we had Knysna Turaco drop into a tree nearby and give usexcellent views.After breakfast we headed to other wetlands in the park further to the east,visiting bird hides. We picked up a couple of Malachite Kingfishers and AfricanFish Eagle. We took a drive through the farmfields toward the forest town ofKaratara, stopping and picking up Denham's Bustard on the way. In the forestwe stopped at a river, and at the bridge picked up bird parties as they camethrough. These included Red-billed Wood Hoopoe, Olive Woodpecker and thebeautifully marked Grey Cuckooshrike.

Back at Wilderness we walked the old railway line, picking up ParadiseFlycatcher and Red-necked Spurfowl. In the afternoon we walked a river trail,but many of the birds were quiet in this late afternoon period and we only succeeded in locating Chorister Robin-Chat and flushing aWood Owl that was being mobbed by Terrestrial Brownbuls.

Day 15 : Wilderness and De Hoop (Potberg)

We started the day with an early morning walk of an indigenous forest trail which follows along the riverbank. We had more success than the day before, with Angela picking up a Lemon Dove which allowed us goodviews without it flushing from the forest floor. We stopped for early morning coffeealong the river and watched the Peregrine Falcon on the opposite cliff.Burchell's Coucal was calling and we managed to trace the bird to a forestclearing. Forest Canary, a bird that had eluded us up until now, gave us goodviews as it collected spider webs to build its nest.

Cape Aghulas Long-billed Lark on a Birding Africa Tour © Dalton Gibbs
Cape Aghulas Long-billed Lark

We had to leave and after enjoying lunch on the beach we headed westwards,traveling through the first bit of real rain we had on the trip. Fortunately this liftedand by the time we approached the pont to cross the Breede River, it hadstopped. This pont is pulled across the river by people and is the only one of itskind still operating in South Africa. We traveled on, and were back in Blue Craneterritory; in one field finding no less than 79 of these beautiful birds. We soonfound Denham's Bustard and Agulhas Long-billed Lark, a narrow coastalplain endemic species that revealed itself with its call and soon we had found thebird - our very last lark species.

We checked into our accommodation and then headed over to Potberg to seethe Eland and Bontebok, a localized endemic antelope with well defined brownand white markings.

We didn't pick up any new bird species, but enjoyed the sunset with a hundredor so Ostriches that came across to investigate. Back at the guestfarm accommodation a fabulous dinner was enjoyed before we turned in for the night.

Day 16 - 29 September: De Hoop

Up early we went through to Potberg on the eastern end of De Hoop NatureReserve and found an early morning Klaas's Cuckoo. We were targetingwoodpeckers and honeyguides, but none of these were about. This could beexplained by the Black Sparrowhawk that was actively calling and came pastus.

A dozen or so Cape Vultures made their appearance, wheeling above thePotberg Mountain before setting off in search of food for the day.We returned for breakfast and packed our luggage and set of to the westernsection of the De Hoop Nature Reserve. Here we visited the main vlei, with itsvariety of waterfowl. Bontebok dotted the landscape and we found a breedingmale Ostrich who inflated his neck and made his booming call near us.Travelling along the coast we came to the white dunes of the long beach reachingwestwards towards the southern tip of the African continent. Here we stood onthe dunes, with Southern Right Whales passing in the sea below us.

After a while, John spotted a white whale, a calf swimming with its mother. Thislet to cries of "Ahoy, thar she blows!" and "Have ye seen the white whale?" towhich the reply was "Aye, but don't ye tell Ahab". A series of whales slowly camepast us, standing out in stark contrast to the white sand of the bay.We headed back to the guest farm, stopping and finding Cape Clapper Larkin short young fynbos vegetation.

Whale watching at De Hoop during a Birding Africa Tour
Whale watching from the sand dunes at De Hoop © Dalton Gibbs

Our last sunset on tour was again spent in the company of the same ostricheswho couldn't resist and had to come over to see what we were doing (again).Back at the guest farm and over supper we tallied up our final check lists - 286 bird species!

Day 17: 30 September - De Hoop, Kleinmond and Stoney Point Penguin Colony

We had a slow morning, finally setting off on our last gravel road. We saw more Blue Cranes and good views of Wattled Starlings before arriving at Kleinmond and the penguin colony at Stoney Point. Here weworked through the four different marine cormorant species and of course sawlots of African Penguins. With a scope we picked up Shy Albatross out to seamixed in with Swift Terns.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Dalton Gibbs.

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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