Posted on the 7th January 2013


Site description: Rooi Els; Stony Point, Betty’s Bay; Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, Betty Bay’s, Western Cape, South Africa

Dates and times: 8th December: 15.30-15.55 Rooi Els; 16.10-17.15 Stony Point, Betty’s Bay; 17.25-18.45 Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, Betty’s Bay (HPB)

Weather: Sunny & clear, windy

Checklist by: Chris Seaton, 61 Annandale Avenue, Bognor Regis, West Sussex PO21 2ET. Tel: 01243 866085

Other observers: No birders

Altitude: Sea-level

Habitat: Rooi Els: mountain fynbos running to suburban housing on beach; Stony Point: rocky coastline; HPB: fynbos, gardens, Afromontane forest

Directions: See South African Bird Finder

Comments: Further notes on the trip and the site follow the species list

The list follows the English names and order of the African Bird Club as referenced on (names in brackets if different used in SASOL guide)

African Penguin - 400+ Stony Point

Great (White-breasted) Cormorant - 25+ Stony Point

Cape Cormorant - 600+ Stony Point

Bank Cormorant - 8 Stony Point

Hadada Ibis - party at HPB

Verreaux’s Eagle - pair flying over cliffs above HPB

Peregrine - pair defending nest site with presence of eagles HPB

Cape Francolin (Cape Spurfowl) - party HPB

Hartlaub’s Gull - 6 Stony Point

Kelp Gull - 1+ Stony Point

Speckled Pigeon - 3 Rooi Els and present HPB

Ring-necked Dove (Cape Turtle Dove) - present HPB

Alpine Swift - 1 over mountains Rooi Els

Speckled Mousebird - 1 HPB

Plain Martin (Brown-throated Martin) - several overhead Rooi Els and HPB

Black Saw-wing - 2 around fynbos HPB

Sombre Greenbul - several singing HPB

Cape Bulbul - 1 around Stony Point and also at HPB

Cape Robin-chat - 1 HPB

?Familiar Chat? - possible Rooi Els

Cape Rock-Thrush - handsome male HPB

Olive Thrush - present HPB

Common Fiscal - 1 Stony Point car park

Neddicky - 2 HPB

Karoo Prinia - 1 Stony Point and at HPB

African Paradise-Flycatcher - male HPB

Orange-breasted Sunbird - male HPB

Cape White-eye - present HPB

Cape Sugarbird - 1 HPB

Red-winged Starling - 2 Rooi Els

Yellow Bishop - 2 pairs HPB

Cape Canary - gardens HPB


Personal lists:

10 Western Cape ticks

3 South African ticks

2 Afrotropical ticks

2 Lifers

1 half-tick

Star-bird: African Penguin

Day lists:

8 December 2012: 96 days ticks, 4 lifers (totals include 65 day-ticks and 2 lifers at other sites)


Notes on Trip:

1. Purpose: The purpose of this trip was primarily to work in training. Additional time was provided for me to experience Cape Town and do some birding. Which was nice.

2. Time of year: It was genuinely a pleasure to be in the Western Cape when the British weather took turns between wet & cold this late Autumn. As far as species are concerned, I think a visit a month or two earlier would have had more song birds in song. This would have made finding specials like Knysna Warbler more likely.

3. Weather: Generally excellent, warm and dry. The big down-side was the wind. I had been in touch with Cape Town Pelagics and had a place reserved on the pelagic trip from Simonstown on 8th December. I was dreaming of those seabirds finally getting on my lifelist! But the wind was generally running at quite a strong south-easterly throughout my trip and the Table Mountain cablecar was closed on two days when we wanted to go up. So unfortunately the pelagic trip was cancelled as the wind was deemed too strong to make the trip safely.

4. Flights: My flights were covered by my hosts as I was working in South Africa pro bono. Oh, the pleasures of flying a proper long-haul provider like SAA after the challenges of European low-cost airlines.

5. Car-hire: I did not hire a car as I was chauffeured most days around Cape Town and borrowed a car for my day out on 8th December.

6. Accommodation: I was hosted by families and this was arranged by the team bringing me to Cape Town. I stayed 2nd-7th December in the Scott Estate above Hout Bay, and then from 7th-11th December in Silverhurst, Constantia. Both locations were fine for driving around the Cape Town suburbs sites. The former had limited birding opportunities as the hills above Hout Bay were of scrubby fynbos. Silverhurst was only a short drive or jog from part of the Constantia Greenbelt site.

7. Maps and Guides: I did not have a great map, but just a commercial large scale map was enough given the excellent directions in the Southern African Birdfinder volume.

8. Driving: Driving was generally fine, but can be challenging, especially among taxi drivers. 8th December did unfortunately end with a car crash in one of the Cape Town suburbs. Fortunately, no-one was hurt. Fuel prices notably cheaper than in the UK

9. Books used: SASOL’s Southern African Birdfinder by Cohen, Spottiswoode and Rossouw 2006 edition was a wonderful find just before left the UK. Devoured it on the flight. SASOL’s Birds of Southern Africa by Sinclair, Hockey and Tarboton Third Edition 2002 was the latest of a suite of field guides I have collected for the area and the one I took on this trip.

10. Target birds: I did not expect to mop up on the endemics but realised I should be able to do okay for new birds even with limited opportunities around work. Using the ‘target birds’ feature on I realised I had quite a long list of South African birds that I might see for the first time. Regarding lifers, the list of targets in ascending order of rarity would have been something like this (some were more ambitious than others!) with ticks against those seen on the trip:

a. African Black Oystercatcher 

b. African Penguin 

c. Hartlaub’s Gull 

d. Cape Bulbul 

e. Orange-breasted Sunbird 

f. Southern Double-collared Sunbird 

g. Cape Sugarbird 

h. Jackal Buzzard

i. Blue Crane

j. Karoo Prinia 

k. Cape Batis 

l. Cape Canary 

m. African Black Duck

n. Greater Double-collared Sunbird

o. Cape Teal 

p. Cape Francolin 

q. Malachite Sunbird 

r. Southern Boubou 

s. Grassbird 

t. Bank Cormorant 

u. Crowned Cormorant

v. Black Harrier

w. Swee Waxbill 

x. Cape Rock-jumper

y. Grey-backed Cisticola

z. Forest Canary 

aa. Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher

bb. Cape Siskin

cc. Ground Woodpecker

dd. Lemon Dove

ee. Sentinel Rock-Thrush 

ff. Plain-backed Pipit

gg. Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk

hh. Victorin’s Scrub-Warbler

ii. Protea Seedeater

jj. Knysna Warbler

kk. Striped Flufftail

ll. Hottentot Buttonquail

Notes on Rooi Els and Betty’s Bay:

1. Rooi Els: The reasons I visited this spot was to take a shot at some of the specials I had so far missed, particularly Cape Rock-jumper, Ground Woodpecker and Cape Siskin. It became clear that the wind so strong on the day of my visit that it would be very unlikely that any of these species would pop up in such conditions so I stayed less than half an hour

2. Stony Point, Betty’s Bay: I found it moving to finally see a wild penguin colony! With some difficulty I found Bank Cormorant among the mostly Cape Cormorants. It was frustrating that no Crowned Cormorants could be found.



JOHAN VAN HEERDEN (posted: 2013-01-09)
looks like you had a fairly decent trip. next time please contact me and I will organise you a trip to a farm just outside of Grabouw in the western cape. Bird life is exceptionally good there because of the mixture of landscape, flats, mountain ranges, allot of water and swamp area. for your seabirds I would recomend going to Pearly Beach, +- 60km from Bettey's Bay.