Birding Africa
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Trip Report: Cape Leopard in the mountains near Langebaan in May 2010


This two-day trip took us to the West Coast National Park and Mountain Mist (180 km north of Cape Town),
with Leopard as an exceptional sighting!

Find out how birders can help leopards: click here.

10 May:

We headed north from Cape Town up the R27, hoping for drier weather ahead of us, but when we arrived at the West Coast National Park there we still regular squalls coming through. We made best use of the short dry spells, quickly finding Cape Penduline Tit right beside the road. Down at the water's edge we spent a short while in the hide, and managed to lure a very cooperative pair of African Rail from the reeds, which gave excellent views. Further on we paused to find a pair of Grey Tit at a rocky outcrop, before moving on to the Vredenburg area. Here an icy wind blew, but we still managed to pick out several Sickle-winged Chat along the roadside, a confiding Cloud Cisticola, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Southern Ant-eating Chat and, after a lot of effort, a pair of Cape Long-billed Lark.

After a warm lunch we continued to Velddrif, where we paused to find Chestnut-banded Plover and a couple of bright Lesser Flamingos, and finally on to Mountain Mist, which we decided had been named appropriately. We huddled around a blazing fire to warm up, making short forays into the surrounding fynbos to watch Protea Seedeater, Cape Bunting and Cape Sugarbird. After dark we found a single Freckled Nightjar along the road.

11 May:

With heavy mist and driving rain at the top of the mountain, we decided to head for lower altitudes, which proved a good strategy. Before dawn we found a Spotted Eagle Owl perched on a roadside pole, and Fiery-necked Nightjar hunting along a Eucalypt plantation. After dawn we slowly made our way back up the mountain for breakfast, pausing to watch two groups of Ground Woodpecker, a circling Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk and, amazingly, a LEOPARD being mobbed by a pair of Pied Crows. The views were brief before the secretive animal slunk behind a sandstone outcrop, but Allen and Rob were fortunate to join the elite club of people having set eyes on a leopard in the Cape mountains! After breakfast the weather had showed no sign of improvement, so we headed for the coastal lowlands where the weather was brighter, finding several Lanners and a trio of White Storks feedings in some recently ploughed fields.

We spent the afternoon back in the West Coast National Park, where we were entertained by several smart Southern Black Korhaan, Karoo Lark and Black Harrier, and we watched a Secretarybird striding across the plains. Our final stop produced improved views of Little Rush Warbler, before it was time to head back to a rainy Cape Town.

A Birding Africa Trip Report by Tour Leader Michael Mills.


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

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.

For feedback from our guests, please see our Client Comments. Please also browse our Latest News and Trip Reports.



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Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
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