(This article by Per Holman clearly illustrates the vast birding potential within reach of Cape Town. - Ed.)
On Thursday I got a message from a fellow Norwegian, Tommy Pedersen, that he was flying into Cape Town on Friday. Tommy is an air captain with The Emirates and is based in Dubai. We met up briefly for a few drinks on Friday night in order to discuss what he was interested in seeing. Cape Rockjumper came up as a huge request, so I figured that Rooi-Els would be a good spot. Tommy has been several times to SA before, but this was the first time with a camera. I thought we should try and rack up as many endemics as possible.
I picked Tommy up at 6AM this morning and after a brief refueling of the car and the body, we headed straight for Rooi-Els.
At Rooi/Els we picked up all the usual endemics pretty quickly: Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cape Grassbird, Cape Bulbul and Karoo Prinia. We heard 3 Victorin`s Warblers, but could not get one out. We walked for a while without any traces of the Rockjumpers. On the way back, Tommy quickly spotted a family consisting of a Male, Female and juvenile. They got very close to us and allowed Tommy to get some brilliant pictures. We also heard another Victorin´s Warbler and this time we where lucky to get good views (no pictures) of one. A bird I seldom see at Rooi-Els is Cape Siskin and today we were lucky and got a brief glimpse of one. Heading back to the car, I was scanning the buildings for Cape Rock-Thrush and we soon found 3 of them.
11 endemic birds in a little more than 2 hours is actually not bad. We dipped on Ground Woodpecker and Sentinel Rock-Thrush though. We did not see the Verreaux´s Eagles, but had other birds like Yellow Bishop, Neddicky, White-necked Raven, Rock Bunting, Alpine and African Black Swifts, Rock Martin and Rock Kestrel added to our list.
Tommy was flying back today, so he had to be back at the hotel by 12:30. He said he also wanted pictures of Hartlaub´s Gull! We still had some time on our hand after we finished at Rooi-Els, so I decided to head for Maccassar Sewage Works. We soon added a few more endemics: Hartlaub´s Gull, Cape Teal, Cape Spurfowl, Cape Weaver and Cape Sparrow. This brought the endemic list for the day to 16 species. Other birds at Maccassar included: Kittlitz´s Plover, Little Stints, White-fronted Plovers, Common Ringed Plover and Common Greenshanks.
With still some time on our hand, I decided to check out the Phillippi temporary wetlands. On the way past Strandfontein, I asked Tommy about Maccoa Duck. He told me that he had been looking for that, but had not seen it. I decided to take a slight detour towards Strandfontein. On the pan to the left of the entrance amongst hundreds of Cape Teals, we picked up no less than 7 Maccoa Ducks and also the same number of Black-necked Grebes.
The Phillippi Wetlands were a disappointment, since there were no water there at all.
I dropped Tommy off at the hotel at exactly 12:30, and he was a very happy camper.
Many of these endemics are very common for us living here in Cape Town, but all of them are of interest for visiting birders. With the limited time at hand, I think 16 endemic birds was quite good for a half a day birding trip from Cape Town?