Trip Report: West Coast Day Trip - 8 November 2006
Day total: 125 bird species (plus
I was scarcely past Koeberg’s two cooling towers and a blue-and-white
bullet shot low over the road. “Pearl-breasted Swallow!”
I exclaimed, as I brought the bakkie to a rapid halt on the shoulder
of the R27. It was 7am, and this is how our birding day started.
After enjoying great views of two dainty swallows perched on a roadside
fence, we were soon on our way again. A couple of kilometres on
and black-and-white stealth-bomber cruised low over the road. “Black
Harrier!” I exclaimed, as I again the brought the
bakkie to another rapid halt, this time perhaps even more liberal
with the breaks. After admiring our first of seven! Black Harriers
for the day, quartering gracefully along the road verge, we again
continued on our way.
The next time I applied the breaks I was considerably gentler, as
we turned onto one of the Darling area back roads. Karoo
Scrub-Robin sat atop a bush, flicking its tail teasingly.
Ahead of us the unmusical squawk of a Southern Black Korhaan
soon had us moving on to where a striking male was basking in the
morning sun. A short distance further, a trio of Grey-winged
Francolin were having an argument with their neighbours.
Next were Southern Red Bishop, Spur-winged Goose, Capped
Wheatear, White-throated Swallow, Banded Martin, Pied Starling,
White-backed Mousebird, and a single, but exquisite Blue
Crane, before turning back to the main drag. En route to
our stakeout for Cloud Cisticola, we notched up
Jackal Buzzard and Black-shouldered Kite.
As I drew the car to a (gentle) halt, I could hear the squeak and
click of a cisticola displaying high overhead. We strained our eyes
to spot the squeaking speck, but soon lost interest as a Large-billed
Lark was being more cooperative. Fortunately not all Cloud
Cisticola were living up to their name, as we spotted two perched
on low bushes, admiring their streaky breasts through the scope.
Before moving on we notched up a mewing Cape Longclaw,
more Blue Cranes and Levaillant’s
Outside the West Coast National Park entrance a mixed foraging flock
contained Grassbird, Chestnut-vented Titbabbler, Long-billed
Crombec, Bokmakierie, Cape Bunting, Bar-throated Apalis
and Grey-backed Cisticola. En route to Abrahamskraal
a Karoo Lark butterfly-fluttered in display, eventually
alighting on a bush for proper study. At Abrahamskraal, large numbers
of Yellow Canary, Namaqua Dove and Cape Bulbul were
about. Black Crake scurried through and Lesser
Swamp Warbler skulked in the reeds, but both came into
view unlike their cousins, African Rail and Little
Rush Warbler. Yellow Bishop joined Southern
Red Bishop in display over the reedbeds and flock of African
Spoonbill busily preened themselves. En route to Langebaan
we found a Spotted Eagle Owl on its day roost and
a flock of tiny Cape Penduline Tit at the roadside,
spotted several African Black Oystercatchers feeding
on the extensive mudflats and caught up with Crowned
and Cape Cormorant. Next was Velddrif where the
Berg River mudflats and nearby saltpans were full of waterbirds:
South African Shelduck, Black-necked Grebe, Glossy Ibis,
Purple Heron, Caspian Tern, Kittlitz’s and Common
Ringed Plover, and many others were in attendance.
From here we swung westwards towards Vredenberg, notching up Sickle-winged
Chat, Grey Tit, Grey-backed Sparrowlark and the very long-billed
Cape Long-billed Lark in the surrounding agricultural
fields. A short stop-off at a nearby quarry rewarded with perched
and low-flying views of a pair of majestic Verreaux’s
Eagle, and an Acacia Pied Barbet, before
we returned to Cape Town. A short pause at Rietvlei added several
waterfowl, including Red-billed Teal and
Cape Shoveller, bringing our list to an impressive 125
species (plus 5 heard) for the day!
Trip report by Birding Africa tour leader Michael Mills.
Western South Africa rivals any other place in Africa for
the number of endemic bird species and accessibility: over 80%
of South Africa's endemics occurs here. This varied scenery
with dramatic mountain ranges, the unqiue Cape floral Kingdom
and the semi-desert plains of the Karoo also offers mammals,
chameleons, geckos, butterflies and interesting plants, to suit
both keen birders and nature enthusiasts. We also offer pelagic
trips out of Cape Town, to see albatross, shearwaters, petrels,
whales and dolphins.
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
Only a low level of fitness is required.
Throughout the year.
Mediterranean climate, which can be warm in summer (October
to March) and chilly in winter (June to September), the rainy
A good standard of accommodation in guest houses, lodges and
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.