Western Cape: West Coast Trip Report - 13 January 2019
Highlights included: White-backed Mousebird, Namaqua Dove, Southern Black Korhaan, Eurasian Curlew, Western Osprey, Chestnut-vented Warbler, Yellow, and White-throated Canary.
Total number of species : 85
After collecting our guests: Jonathon and Wendy, we headed up the R27/West Coast Road towards the West Coast National Park. The drive gave us plenty of opportunities to spot a variety of raptors - Black-winged Kite, Jackal and "Steppe" Common Buzzard and Rock Kestrel - perched on the roadside telephone and fence poles. Another highlight was the occasional flocks of endemic Pied Starlings, with their characteristic white vents.
After entering the park's southern entrance, we made a few stops along the roadside to seek birds of the local Strandveld vegetation. Our efforts yield a wide variety of endemic and near-endemics such as Cape Spurfowl, Karoo Prinia, Grey-backed Cisticola, Karoo Scrub-Robin, Cape Bulbul, Chestnut-vented Warbler, Cape Penduline-Tit, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Bunting, Yellow and White-throated Canary. A particular highlight was the large numbers of both adult and juvenile Bokmakieries, an attractively marked species of bush-shrike, giving their characteristic eponymous "bok-bok-makierie" call.
Other highlights, although not avian in nature, were a number of large armoured ground-crickets scuttling across the road, and a small herd of tame Eland, that were feeding a few metres from us as we birded.
We spent some time birding from the hide at Abrahamskraal. The area is one of the few reliable sources of permanent freshwater and attract species that need to drink frequently. The area had a constant stream of Ring-necked (Cape Turtle), and Namaqua Doves, Yellow Canaries, Cape Sparrows and Cape Buntings coming down to drink. The areas of deeper open water were home to African Spoonbills, Red-knobbed Coots, Yellow-billed Ducks and a pair of Cape Shovellers. A distant male Southern Black Korhaan was giving his unmistakeable raucous call, but he remained mostly out of sight.
The next stop was the Atlantic Ocean View Point. This high vantage point offered views of Cape Gannets, Kelp and Hartlaub's Gulls out at sea. We continued birding up to Kraalbaai, and then back around to the manor house at Geelbek.
A very strong westerly wind, meant the birding from the Geelbek Hide was not at its best. The wind delayed the emptying of the lagoon out into the Atlantic Ocean. Despite this, we managed views of a good selection of migrant Pale-arctic breeding waders, including species such as Curlew Sandpipers, Sanderling, Little Stint, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Common Whimbrel, and several Eurasian Curlews, a species that is becoming increasingly rare in the Park. These migrants were joined by local species like Black-winged Stilts and Pied Avocet.
The lagoon is well known for its large numbers of Greater Flamingos, many of whom were busily feeding in front of the hide, pumping their feet to stir up sediment that was then filtered by their characteristic bills.
Fish-eating birds were also well represented. A pair of African Fish Eagles soared in the distance while we watched a Western Osprey successfully catch and fly off with a fish. Closer in several Caspian and Sandwich Terns, joined by a White-breasted Cormorant, dived on fish caught in the ever shallowing water.
After a much-needed lunch and bit of post-lunch birding around the old manor house, we drove and birded up the eastern side of the park to the Seeberg Viewpoint. This high granite hill offered magnificent views of the southern stretches of Langebaan Lagoon, and almost the entirety of the park itself. A brief wander around the summit allowed us to add Angulate Tortoise and Rock Hyrax to the trip list. The slopes of hill allowed us to get great views of a very noisy Southern Black Korhaan male, as well as two females; the latter being very close to the road.
We ended our birding within the Park at the Seeberg hide. Although the tide was out, we managed to get views of a final few species for the day, the most important being White-fronted Plover, African Black Oystercatchers and Crowned Cormorant.
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.