Western Cape: West Coast Trip Report - 19 March 2014
Highlight bird species: Southern Black Korhaan, Black Harrier, Blue Crane, Karoo Scrub-robin, Bokmakierie and Cape Bulbul, and waterbirds such as South African Shelduck, Great Crested Grebe, Black Crake amongst others..
After a successful Hottentot Holland trip a few weeks ago, Jan was keen to take another trip and Cindy from Switzerland joined him. After picking them up in Camps Bay we headed up the West Coast, which promised a new variety of birds.
En-route to the park gates we took a quick detour near Darling in search of Blue Cranes. It didn't take long before we had eight individuals standing amongst a scattered herd of sheep. Other highlights were Lanner Falcon, Red-capped Lark, and several hundred African Pied Starlings, which had a couple dozen Wattled Starlings mixed in.
After arriving at the West Coast National Park, we made a brief restroom stop at Geelbek and were treated to a flock of Cape Penduline-tits working the strandveld along the road as well as several Black-shouldered Kites flying overhead. Birding at Geelbek is best when the tide is going out so we headed for Seeberg first until the mudflats became exposed later in the day.
The Seeberg hill offered a great vantage point for raptors; here we had our first of three Black Harriers as well as a Rock Kestrel. Nearby we had excellent views of a male Southern Black Korhaan, which are restricted almost exclusively to the Western Cape. The Seeberg hide provided Greater Flamingo, Common, Caspian and Sandwich Terns, Kittzlitz's and White-fronted Plovers, Whimbrel, Curlew Sandpipers (just about in breeding plumage), and Sanderlings amongst other species of waders.
Heading back to Geelbek, the surrounding strandveld provided Karoo Scrub-robin, Speckled and White-backed Mousebirds, Bokmakierie, Cape Bulbul, Bar-throated Apalis, and Cape Bunting amongst others.
After lunch at the Geelbek restaurant, we headed to the hide and enjoyed scanning the mudflats adding Ruddy Turnstone amongst the other waders as well as Great White Pelican and South African Shelduck.
The Abrahamskraal hide didn't disappoint either, providing up close views of Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, Little Grebe, and Black Crake. Three African Spoonbills were briefly seen before landing amongst the reeds.
Heading back to Cape Town after a successful day up the West Coast, we made one last stop at a wetland that added several new birds for the day including Red-billed Teal, Purple Heron, and Great Crested Grebe.
Although we had rain showers on and off throughout the day, we still managed to record 87 species.
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.