Trip Report: Fynbos & Coastal Birds (Hottentots
Holland) Day Trip, 17 October 2009
This relaxed day trip from Cape Town was aimed at finding fynbos
and coastal specials of the scenically-spectacular Hottentot’s
Holland region for participants of the October 2009 Diversitas
Driving above the towering cliffs
south of Gordon’s Bay, we looked for Southern Right whales
but were unable to spot them in the aquamarine waters below. However,
we did see a young Chacma Baboon feeding on the
flowers of Bruinsalie (Salvia africana-lutea). The fynbos
on these mountain slopes has recovered well from the fires of 2008
and many species were in bloom.
Our first stop was in a superb area of mountain fynbos, near some
rocky cliffs, where we enjoyed an extended walk through the fynbos
in full bloom. Not 50 m from the car we spotted at striking male
Cape Rock Thrush perched near the track. This was
shortly followed by the popular and endemic Orange-breasted
Sunbird, Neddicky, Cape Grassbird,
Cape Bunting and Grey-backed Cisticola.
Cape Siskin, another fynbos endemic, gave some excellent
rock-top views. Cape Rock-jumper took a little
longer to find, but we eventually all enjoyed scope views of a striking
male preening and sunning itself, and later even better views of
a pair. Perching daintily on the hillside above us, two Klipspringer
slowly made their way up the rocky slope and we all had great views.
When we scanned the tall cliffs for the resident Verreaux’s
Eagles, a pair of White-necked Raven came into
view hanging on the wind. On the way back to the vehicle, we saw
a pair of Green Grooved Dung Beetles (Scarabaeus
rugosus) energetically rolling a ball of dung down the path.
We then made our way to a nearby African Penguin colony,
where the usual suspects showed well: all four species of marine
cormorant: Bank Cormorant , Crowned Cormorant,
Cape Cormorant and White-breasted Cormorant,
and many African Penguin, some adults beginning
to moult. African Black Oystercatcher was also
spotted feeding along the rocky shoreline. Here we stopped to photograph
a family of Rock Hyrax with young. After a relaxed
lunch at Harold Porter Botanical Gardens we enjoyed a stroll through
the gardens and along the forested kloof to the waterfall. Here
a trio of African Black Duck showed well. The water
in the stream showed the typical brown ‘sherry’ colour
associated with fynbos habitat, a result of the breakdown of tannins
and phenols. Sombre Greenbul was typically noisy,
Cape Sugarbird active in the Protea beds,
Cape Francolin made a noisy entrance, and a pair
of Cape Batis was particularly confiding, but the
undoubted highlights were a distant pair of much-wanted
Ground Woodpecker and a very cooperative Victorin’s
Warbler which stayed in the scope for several minutes!
A botanical highlight in the gardens was the Green Wood Orchid or
Octoberlelie (Bonatea speciosa) in full bloom. A fine end
to a day of great weather, scenery and birds.
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
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.
Moderate; can be warm in summer and chilly in winter.
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.