Posted on the 11th October 2009

(Japie Caassen just forwarded this report.  This is a MUST READ as it represents of the best of Western Cape Birding)

I took clients of Birding Africa on a guided trip in the Western Cape from 12 to 22 September 2009. The client wanted to bird in general and had the endemics and near-endemic species of the region as their most important targets. We started off on 12 September with a Pelagic Trip from Simons Town. After a few stormy days the weather was great and we picked up a few trawlers due south of Cape Point. Thousands of birds were around the trawlers with Cape Gannet, Atlantic Yellow-nosed, Shy & Black-browed Albatross, a white Southern Giant Petrel, Antarctic Fulmer, Pintado Petrel and Great Shearwater the most common. Back on land we visited the African Penguin colony at Boulders and towards Kommetjie we saw some Jackal Buzzard, Little Egret and Red-winged Starling.

Southern Black Korhaan

On day 2 we visited the Cape West Coast. It was one of those drizzling, rainy days. Along the West Coast road we saw most of the common ducks, a rather wet Secretarybird, a few Southern Black Korhaans and some waders. The first new birds on the day for the clients were the Antarctic Terns near Cape Columbine and Grey Tits that nested in old buildings. On the way to West Coast National Park we saw some Banded Martins and Wattled Starlings. Inside the Park there were Greater & Lesser Flamingos around the Seeberg Hide, as well as Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Whimbrel, Sanderling and Curlew Sandpiper. There were not many birds at the Geelbek hide and Abrahamskraal had an African Marsh Harrier, Black Crake, Common Moorhen and Little Grebes.

On day 3 we traveled from Cape Town to Klein Cedarberg Lodge in the Cedarberg Mountains. Initially the weather was not good and we visited the Paarl Mountain reserve where we found Malachite Kingfisher, Streaky-headed Seed-eater, African Olive Pigeon and an African Goshawk in flight. Along the way we saw Blue Cranes at Hermon and Tulbagh. A quick visit to Gydo Pass near Prince Alfred Hamlet produced good views of Cape Sugarbird, Protea Seed-eater, Cape Siskin and Orange-breasted Sunbird. As we entered the Karoo via Karoopoort we were welcomed by our first Booted Eagle and lots of Alpine, White-rumped, African Black and Little Swifts. We found the pair of Cinnamon-breasted Warblers at the picnic site in Karoopoort with ease. The Inverdoorn Dam is still full of water and the pair of African Fish-Eagles has a nest in one of the trees. There are many waterbirds on the dam including SA Shelduck, Cape Shoveller and hundreds of Red-knobbed Coots. After we turned off to Skitterykloof we saw Spike-heeled, Large-billed and Red-capped Larks and Black-headed Canary. Klein Cedarberg is a very good spot for birders and is recommended highly.

On day 4 we tackled the Tanqua Karoo and its National Park. Near the lodge we saw displaying Cape Clapper Lark,

Ground Woodpecker

along the R355 we picked up Karoo Eremomela and on the P2250 Karoo Korhaan, Tractrac Chat, Black-headed Canary and Larklike Bunting. Within 200m after we turned off the P2250 onto the eastern entrance road to Oudebaaskraal, we tracked down a pair of Burchell's Coursers. After had scoped them we decided to go closer, but they just disappeared. We saw another pair of Burchell's and then found the original pair again that had just run over a little ridge. Two pairs in close proximity to each other!!!!! The Oudebaaskraal Dam is full of water and teems with water birds including more than a hundred Greater Flamingos. We proceeded through the Tanqua National Park and found Black-eared Sparrowlarks, Common Quail, Namaqua Sandgrouse, Karoo Larks, Namaqua Warbler and Ludwig's Bustard. We spent the evening at Gannaga Lodge which is situated in the park on top of the Roggeveld Mountains. Grey-winged Francolin, Pale-winged Starling and Ground Woodpecker are to be found around the lodge with little effort. The lodge is excellent, provides outstanding food and service and comes highly recommended.

Karoo Lark

Day 5 took us via Sutherland and Fraserburg to Lemoenfontein Lodge near Beaufort West. Around Middelpos we saw some Karoo Long-billed Lark, Karoo Korhaan and the first European Bee-eaters of the summer. Towards Fraserburg Karoo Lark, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Chat Flycatcher and Rufous-eared Warbler were spotted. We couldn't find any Cape Penduline Tit on the way to Beaufort West, but saw hundreds of Black-eared Sparrowlarks, Wattled Starlings, a juvenile Jackal Buzzard on it's nest and Verreaux's Eagle.

We spent day 6 in the Karoo National Park where we found African Rock, Plain-backed and Long-billed Pipit, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Layard's Titbabbler, Southern Tchagra and Fairy Flycatcher. A visit to the Sclater's Lark site gave brilliant views of the birds, as well as Tractrac Chat, Greater Kestrel and Double-banded Courser. Lemoenfontein Lodge is situated high up against the Nuweveld Mountains with vistas of the Karoo plains. It is very good for birders with lots of Karoo species in the garden and can be recommended to birders. The facilities are excellent.

Young Cape Rock-Jumper

Day 7 took us via the Karoo plains and Prince Albert to the Swartberg Pass and from there onto Wilderness. Along the way to Prince Albert we saw a pair of African Black Duck in a pool in the Gamka River and some Kori Bustard. It was "siesta time" and the Prince Albert side of the Pass was very quiet, but on the Oudtshoorn side we found Victorin's Warbler, Cape Rock-Thrush, Cape Rock-Jumper and Streaky-headed Seed-eater. In Wilderness we stayed in the Old Trading Post B&B which is near the lakes and very comfortable.

On day 8 we paid a very early visit to the Rondevlei hide to look for flufftails, but the reeds in front of the hide are too high to allow good views. We saw some water birds including lots of Great Crested Grebes, Little Bittern, Maccoa Duck and Southern Pochard. In Wilderness town we found Red-necked Spurfowl, Black-crowned Night Heron, Forest Buzzard, Olive Bush-Shrike, Knysna Turaco, Forest Canary and Terrestrial Brownbul. A visit to Woodville Forest was quiet with only some Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Lesser Honeyguide, Chorister Robin-Chat and Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler. (He says glibly – Ed.)

Green Woodhoopoe

On Day 9 we set off early for the Diepwalle Forest. We found White-starred Robin-Chat on the trail around the Big Tree with ease and had lovely views of a few Narina Trogons. On the way back we turned off the N2 towards Rheenendal and were compensated with at least 70 Black-winged Lapwings on a grass veld. We also had views of Lemon Dove flying. An afternoon walk on the Halfcollared Trail for Knysna Woodpecker didn't produce anything except some Green Woodhoopoe, Scaly-throated Honeyguide and Lemon Dove. Late afternoon we had good views of six Black-bellied Starlings flying past.

On day 10 we traveled to De Hoop nature reserve. Just before breakfast we were surprised by a Knysna Woodpecker in a tree at the lodge, as well as some Black-bellied Starlings. We left Wilderness in good spirit for the rest of the day. A quick turn off to Stilbaai gave us some splendid views of Denham's Bustards and in town we found Knysna Warbler and some Water Thick-knee with other water fowl at the local sewage works. We proceeded to De Hoop and had excellent views of a Booted Eagle feeding on a little bird only a few meters from us. It was the last day of the trip and as we returned from breakfast we were welcomed by 18 Cape Griffon circling over the guest house. We had splendid views and this was even improved when a Verreaux's Eagle joined them and we could compare the sizes. We found Agulhas Long-billed Lark , as well as Agulhas Clapper Lark and on the way to Cape Town a single Black Harrier.

We ended the trip on 261 species that included 18 raptor species, 11 lark species and 10 canary species.

Large-billed Lark


Red-necked Spurfowl.  Images - Anton Odendal












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