Birding Africa
    Birding tours from Cape Town to Cameroon and Madagascar, with the only African Birding Specialist










    Cape Town Pelagics
    Cape Birding Route
    350 Photo Challenge







Trip Report: West Coast Day Trip - 8 November 2006

Day total: 125 bird species (plus 5 heard)

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 Cisticola.

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.

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., or However you're always welcome to contact us if you're interested in a guided trip in this area.

Practical tour information:
South Africa: Western Endemics

Please click this link for more detailed information about our upcoming Cape Tours.
Please also visit our tour calendar and description of other South African tours.
Focus 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.
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 Mediterranean climate, which can be warm in summer (October to March) and chilly in winter (June to September), the rainy season.
Comfort A good standard of accommodation in guest houses, lodges and farm stays.
Transport We travel by minibus or four wheel drive vehicle.
Group Size This depends on the specific tour. Please enquire.
Top birds • Darling area: Cape Clapper Lark, Blue Crane
• West Coast National Park: Southern Black Korhaan, Black Harrier, Chestnut-banded Plover
• Tanqua Karoo, a semi-desert: Karoo Eremomela, Namaqua Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, Ludwig’s Bustard, Burchell’s Courser, Black-headed Canary, Layard’s Tit-Babbler, Rufous-eared Warbler, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Karoo Korhaan, Black-eared Sparrowlark
• De Hoop and Agulhas Plains: Cape Vulture, Blue Crane, Denham's Bustard, Damara Tern, Knysna Woodpecker, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Agulhas Clapper Lark, Southern Tchagra
• Cape coastal Fynbos and mountains: Cape Rock-jumper, Victorin's Scrub-Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin, Ground Woodpecker, Neddicky and Cape Rock-Thrush
Click here for more practical tour information and a trip report.
Optional extension: Afromontane forest at Grootvaderschbos or Wilderness in the Garden Route.
• Grootvaderschbos: Narina Trogon, Forest Canary, African Crowned Eagle, Knysna Woodpecker, Knysna Warbler, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Olive Bush-Shrike
• Wilderness National Park, Garden Route: Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, African Wood Owl, Green-backed Camaroptera, Green Woodhoopoe, Chorister Robin-Chat
Top mammals Whales, Dolphins, Cape Grysbok, Chacma Baboon, Caracal, Striped Polecat, Grey Mongoose, Cape Fox, Bat-eared Fox, Porcupine, Cape Mountain Zebra, Bontebok, Eland
Booking Please contact us if you wish to book a guided or a self-drive tour. 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.

This website is maintained by Birding Africa.
Copyright © 1997-2012 Birding Africa

Please do not use any text, images or content from this site without permission.
Black Harrier photograph courtesy of Keith Offord.
© Birding Africa

[African Tailorbirding CC (CK2003/020710/23) trading as Birding Africa]
4 Crassula Way, Pinelands 7405, Cape Town, South Africa.

Home and News - Tour Calendar - Trip Reports - Client Comments - Conservation - About Us - Contact Us