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COLTS VILLA APARTMENTS, MILNERTON, CAPE TOWN

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Colts Villa Apartments offer luxury, 4 star graded self-catering apartments in Milnerton in close proximity to many of the top bird-watching destinations in Cape Town. It is situated in a secure estate on the edge of a protected "fynbos" reserve, the Tuscan Villa overlooks a thoroughbred racehorse training facility and enjoys picture-perfect views of Table Mountain from virtually every room. Three units are available sleeping between four and six individuals per unit. Colts Villa offers luxurious furnishings throughout with an emphasis on natural material and colour. There are paved patios outside all three apartments overlooking the large solar heated pool area, the fynbos reserve and Table Mountain. The indigenous garden adds further quality as it is linked to the fynbos reserve. Details of the accommodation, facilities and services offered can be studied on the website – links herewith.

Colts Villa is a mere fifteen minutes drive from the Cape Town CBD, V&A Waterfront and the Cape Town Stadium. It is also conveniently close (1 km) to the Bus Rapid Transport System which offers direct routes to the V & A and Cape Town CBD, as well as Seapoint, Campsbay and Hout Bay. It is situated 6 km from the Durbanville wine route and just a half an hour's drive from the Cape Winelands, and serves as a wonderful base from which to explore the tourism delights of the Cape West Coast, as well as all the top birding destinations along the peninsula.

The Strandveld and fynbos dominated vegetation of the reserve at the villa is filled with colourful flowers in Spring and expect to find sought-after endemic species such as the CAPE GRASSBIRD, CAPE SUGARBIRD and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD. Other endemics include the BOKMAKIERIE, CAPE BULBUL, CAPE LONGCLAW, KAROO PRINIA, CAPE SPURFOWL and SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD. Canaries abound with species recorded including the BRIMSTONE, CAPE and YELLOW CANARIES, as well as the STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER and CAPE SISKIN. Other resident species include the SOUTHERN MASKED-WEAVER, CAPE ROBIN-CHAT, MALACHITE SUNBIRD, COMMON WAXBILL and PIN-TAILED WHYDAH, as well all of the common garden birds to be found in the region.

Most importantly Colts Villa allows visiting bird-watchers the opportunity to investigate a variety of top birding destinations in the immediate area. Intaka Island is a sprawling series of wetlands in the heart of Century City and beside the Canal Walk shopping mall. Close up viewing and photography of breeding waterbirds is possible. Bird checklists, brochures and maps are available at reception for birders wanting to follow a self-guided trail. Intaka Island offers experienced field rangers who can be hired for guided trails ¬ booking is essential. The main attraction, however, is the Kingfisher hide. The GLOSSY IBIS, PIED KINGFISHER, AFRICAN SNIPE, CAPE SHOVELER and RED-BILLED TEAL are found regularly. The LITTLE BITTERN, MALACHITE KINGFISHER and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON are often photographed with great success. There is another hide just next to main hide offering views of the previous pond. Birds that are often regarded as being fairly difficult to find in the Cape and that have been recorded at Intaka include FULVOUS, MACCOA, WHITE-BACKED and WHITE-FACED DUCKS, SQUACCO HERON, GREATER PAINTED SNIPE, COMMON QUAIL and HOTTENTOT TEAL.

Other excellent birding alternatives in the immediate vicinity are to visit the Dolphin Beach pans (2 km), SANCCOB and the Rietvlei Wetland Reserve (1km). The Dolphin Beach Pans are certainly worth a visit as a splendid diversity of waterbirds are often available here ¬ travel north along the R27 and take the first turn-off to Blouberg Strand to the left. Bird-watching can be done from the roadside. Be on the lookout for the WHITE-BACKED DUCK, YELLOW-BILLED EGRET, GREATER CRESTED GREBE, AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER and GREATER PAINTED SNIPE.

From here proceed to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) and Rietvlei. Return to the R27 and turn right into Blaauwberg Road. Turn right into Pentz Drive and continue until a four-way intersection is reached and turn right into Grey Avenue. The centre is reached after about 1 km and is well worth a visit. SANCCOB offers specialist tours to the public – booking essential.

From SANCCOB travel all the way to the end of Grey Avenue where the Rietvlei Wetland Reserve is entered through the gate to the Milnerton Aquatic Club. A small entrance fee is payable and the bird hide is a 15 minute walk from the gate. Birding along this walkway can be excellent, particularly during winter, spring and early summer. Reports indicate that Rietvlei hosts an average of 5 500 birds in summer and it has been known to host as many as 15 000 individual birds. Expect to find species such as the AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE, GREATER and LESSER FLAMINGOS (the latter less often), AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER, GREAT WHITE PELICAN and CASPIAN TERN. The reed beds are alive with warblers in summer, but also look for the LITTLE BITTERN, AFRICAN PURPLE SWAMPHEN and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON in this habitat type.

Ultimately Colts Villa serves as an ideal base from which to explore most of the excellent birding destinations along the Cape Town peninsula. Excursions can be planned by visiting the detailed birdfinder web page descriptions at this link:

http://www.westerncapebirding.co.za/peninsula/routes.php