(Trevor posted this facinating account on his Facebook page. It once again illustrates the vast birding potential of the Western Cape Province. - Ed.)
A phone call from my friends at Rockjumper - Worldwide Birding Adventures late last night to say that their guide had fallen ill and they desperately needed me to step in and guide an endemics day trip for the American Birding Association today pretty much sorted my day out...
Our first stop for a "comfort break" for some of the participants near Somerset West delivered a pair of Cape Longclaws carrying nesting material and we also found a pair of Blue Cranes closeby.
The proper birding started in howling winds at Rooiels where we were eventually rewarded with a few displaying Cape Rock-jumpers as well as a vaguely friendly Victorin's Warbler whilst other nice birds located here included Cape Rock-Thrush, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Verreaux's Eagle. Several calling Ground Woodpeckers were most frustrating as we just could not locate them visually.
Then it was on to Betty's Bay where we stopped in at Stony Point to enjoy African Penguins and all 4 species of marine Cormorant (White-breasted, Cape, Bank and Crowned) as well as African Oystercatchers and several gulls and terns. I also got to show them many Rock Hyraxes as well as Cape Girdled Lizards here, just to ensure that it was only about birds... We then moved into Harold Porter Botanical Gardens where we quickly added the first of many Swee Waxbills, Sombre Greenbul, Brimstone Canary, more Cape Siskins and possibly their favourite bird of the day, a cracking male African Paradise Flycatcher in Disa Kloof (the other flycatcher species that we managed to locate there seemed to play second fiddle to this one!). We also picked up Chacma Baboon and Small Grey Mongoose just to keep the mammal list ticking over as well.
After a great lunch, we then headed across to Strandfontein Sewage Works where the wind seemed even stronger! Nevertheless, the list was boosted with many waterfowl (including a single Hottentot Teal), lots of gulls and terns, a few waders, African Purple Swamphen (which is always popular) and several warbler species. Water Thick-knee seemed a popular find especially since it posed for photos for the group and several African Marsh Harriers were also seen.
Overall, considering the windy conditions, not a bad day and nice to be out in the field again showing people some birds. It's been a while since I last spent a full day in the field without even taking my camera out of the bag...