Sunday, 30 October 2016

CapeTown (6/6)

The last stretch of our tour included a quick stop at Hermanus for Whale watching. There were no whales but there were a good few birds. A couple of nights at the Devon Valley Hotel near Stellenbosch and three nights in Cape Town. Wherever I looked there were good places to go birding but you have to keep these obsessions in check. It was a holiday not a birding trip. For example my top place to visit in the area was the Strandfontien Sewage Works but I just couldn't see anyway of getting it onto Sue's two day agenda for Cape Town.

Hermanus continued the theme of touristy and up market but it was pleasant to walk around and it did give me a another bird and a couple of Gulls.

Cape Canary

The Grey-headed Gull below is a Juvenile, probably second summer. It will develop a yellow eye as an adult.

Grey-headed Gull

Hartlaub's Gull

I saw plenty of the South African national bird the Blue Crane but all from the coach so no pictures and there were a host of other ducks and water birds on various lakes and ponds that I couldn't stop to identify. Perhaps the only other one that I can claim is the Red-knobbed Coot. I didn't see the red knobs but there doesn't appear to be any other Coots in South Africa to confuse it with.

The hotel was good and again had some decent gardens. The most common bird was the Egyptian Goose. At least in South Africa they really do appear to be wild.

Egyptian Goose

I was out again at dawn but as before the early morning light, or lack of it, made photography difficult. Plenty of birds about but the first picture I managed to get was this Olive Thrush.

Olive Thrush

Pictures of the Cape Robin-chat, Southern Boubou and Pied Crow are not worth posting although this female Common Fiscal was sitting out in some better light.

Female Common Fiscal

Juvenile Red-backed Fiscal Shrike

Cape White-eye

I missed a raptor that shot out of the trees, across the lawn and back into trees on the other side. Any raptor would do but I was betting on a Goshawk or something similar. When it reappeared from the trees I was ready for it and got a few pictures. I tried hard to match it to another raptor but I can only make it a Peregrine Falcon. All the raptors in Africa and I get one that I can see a few miles from home in the UK.

Peregrine Falcon

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens was a great place to visit. They have a resident pair of Spotted Eagle Owls that have nested there for years.This species seems to be very tolerant of people. I had already seen one roosting in a tree in a busy car-park in Franschhoek.

The mother and chick were on the ground underneath a tree nesting/roosting in some undergrowth and quite well concealed. The male was up in the tree. The only protection for the nest was a six foot wide taped off area around the nest. It seems amazing that with all the people walking past they do not get scared away. Apparently you do get some people that disturb the mother to try to get her to open her eyes. I am told that some of them end up having a close up face to face with the male.

Spotted Eagle Owl

Much as I would have liked an open eye shot I did not disturb him.

I managed a few more life ticks around the gardens including the Cape Sugarbird and I am sure that if we had been able to follow the trails up onto the flanks of Table Mountain we would have found a lot more.

Cape Sugarbird

Cape Sugarbird

Karoo Prinia

Collared Sunbird

Cape Spurfowl

Swee Waxbill

Yellow-billed Kite

Orange-breasted Sunbird - in the mist on Table Mountain

The final few birds come from a trip down to the Cape of Good Hope. Although I did not photograph it I saw my first Ostrich running free in the National Park there. I am told that if they are in the park they are as close as you will ever get to a wild bird.

Just before Cape Point we saw  hundreds of Terns resting out on the rocks. I searched them all but there was only one species there, the Swift Tern.

Swift Terns

White-breasted Cormorant

Rock Kestrels

 And finally Penguins at the colony at Boulders Beach

African Penguin

African Penguin

A great holiday, very busy but a lot seen. As far as birds go I saw about 120 different species during the two weeks, of which 108 were new birds for me. I managed to photograph all but four of those although I have to say that some of the pictures are less than perfect.

I just cannot stop thinking about the five or six hundred that I didn't get to see!


  1. Hi Martin
    What an amazing holiday and an incredible selection of fantastic birds! That would be a steep learning curve in I.D. for me. A holiday to remember...fabulous. The North Wall, Pagham will seem a bit dull from now on!
    Best Wishes,

  2. I can see now why West Sussex has been seeming a little flat since your return - fingers crossed for the Waxwings!

  3. More great photos Martin. Just wondered if the juv shrike was a fiscal?

  4. Hi Raddes - Very politely put! It does indeed look more like a Fiscal. White patch on the wing, bill shape etc. Thanks for the gentle nudge in the right direction. Have a great holiday, I am sure you will enjoy it. We saw all the big mammals whilst on safari days but I missed out on my number one target which was the Secretarybird. It's meant to be quite common. I will just have to go back and give it another go.