We started our holiday with a trip up to Table Mountain (which is fantastic!) Birds of note here were Red-winged Starling, White-necked Raven and lots of Speckled Pigeons - and of course - the good old House Sparrow!
Stopping off at Camps Bay as we returned to our hotel, African Oystercatcher and Hartlaub's Gull were to be found in the bay.
We visited Cape Town Botanical Gardens (we do love to go to botanical gardens wherever we are!!)
and despite the rain, added quite a few birds including Cape Wagtail, Cape Whiteye, Cape Turtle Dove and Southern Double-collared Sunbird (anything that started with 'Cape' was a lifer for me - and there are quite a few!) The lad and his wife had gone off in a different direction from us but called us to say they had found an owl roosting. They walked back to meet us and took us to see it - how he found it, i really don't know, but from then on I called him Hawk-eyes!
Cape Turtle Dove
Spotted Eagle Owl (definitely 'bird of the day')
Can't go to Cape Town without visiting Boulders Beach.......
Kelp Gull with nesting material
Rock Hyrax (Dassie) sunning itself on the boardwalk at Boulders Beach
......and of course, we really had to go down to Cape Point and The Cape of Good Hope!! This is an amazing reserve, and the birds of note here were Ostrich, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape Widowbird (Yellow Bishop) and Malachite Sunbird
We did manage to squeeze in a 'proper' birding day so we decided to visit the Strandfontein Sewage Works which proved to be very productive. This is more of a wetland now with just a small area given over to the sewage works. Lots of water birds were seen, and in good numbers; theses included Greater Flamingo, Cape Shoveler, Hottentot Teal (great name!!), Maccoa Duck, Red-billed Teal and Cape Teal and there was a tip not far away with lots of Kelp Gull swirling around with White Stork - both in massive numbers and an impressive sight to see! We also saw Yellow-billed Duck, White-faced Whistling Duck, Cattle Egret looking lovely in their breeding plumage, Red-knobbed Coot and a couple of raptors - African Marsh Harrier and Yellow-billed Kite. I got talking to a local birder who was keen to share with me an African Jacana (which is not a common bird for this site) and helped me to find the Hottentot; whilst looking at these ducks a wader flew across my vision which I followed, only to see it land on the water. My first thought was a Phalarope-species and I said as much to the local lad who got extremely excited, and, as the bird alighted from the water, he managed to view it. Luckily, the bird flew towards us, circled and came back down onto the lagoon, and, sure enough, it was a Red-necked Phalarope, which is a real rarity for the area. The local birder very quickly put the news out and was extremely happy, and a 'twitch' ensued! All in all, a great day!
Here are just a few images of the thousands of birds we saw at this site
Black-headed Heron with his lunch
Just a few of the Hartlaub's Gulls
White-faced Whistling Duck
We left Cape Town after a very enjoyable few days, and drove north to Aquila Game Reserve for a two night stay. This is a really nice private reserve covering 18,500 acres. We had a few game drives and below are some images of some of the wildlife we were lucky enough to see - but surprisingly, we didn't see that many birds! - The birds of note on the reserve were African Spoonbill, African Shelduck, Mountain Wheatear and Ringed Plover with other birds around the accommodation and restaurant area including Familiar Chat, Rock Martin, Karoo Scrub-robin, Cape Siskin, Southern Red Bishop and Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
Giraffe - trying to hide!?
The dominant male
One of Africa's few remaining Rhino's
Zebra (a.k.a Donkey in pyjamas!)
Zebras having a dispute
African Reed Warbler
Southern Red Bishop
Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
Southern Masked Weaver
Chacma Baboon searching the bins as we left the refreshment station on the reserve
Large male Chacma Baboon
On leaving Aquila, we continued south to the coastal town of Knysna for a few more days. The accommodation gardens were the most fruitful, bird-wise. Amethyst Sunbird, Fork-tailed Drongo, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Streaky-headed Seedeater and Common Waxbill were just some of the birds to be seen. We went across to Knysna Headlnds where, despite heavy rain, we still managed to see Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Boubou and African Dusky Flycatcher, along with a pair of nesting Peregrine
African Dusky Flycatcher
Southern Double-collared Sunbird
Brown Hooded Kingfisher (in the rain)
The final leg of our journey was west to Hermannus. The local birder we met at the sewage works had told us to look out for Blue Cranes in the stubble fields on the road to Hermannus, and also gave us site for the elusive Rockjumper on the road from Hermannus to Cape town. We passed many miles of stubble fields and thought we were going to miss out - but finally - Blue Cranes!
We were only at Hermannus for two nights,and we had one day booked for cage diving for sharks so not much time was left for any birdwatching, but we did find a small reserve very close to where we were staying called Fernkloof Reserve which turned up Cape Sugarbird (at last!) along with Helmeted Guineafowl, African Paradise Flycatcher and Sombre Greenbul. The shark dive was a great experience, and although we didn't see any Great White (they hadn't been seen for a couple of weeks), we did have amazing encounters of 'Bronzies' (Copperhead Sharks) which were about 3 metres long. Very exciting to see them so up-close and personal!
Male Cape Sugarbird
Female Cape Sugarbird
On our final day, we set off early and took the coast road back to Cape Town (approx 75 miles), calling in at Rooiells en-route, hoping to see the Rockjumper, as this is a well known site for this species. Despite spending a good three hours looking for it, it wasn't to be - but we did manage a few more new birds, which ended our holiday on a high; Ground Woodpecker, Cape Rock Thrush, Cape Bunting and brilliant views of Orange-breasted Sunbird
Cape Rock Thrush
132 species were seen, with almost 80 new birds for me - not bad for a non-birding holiday!
South Africa is a great holiday destination, with fantastic friendly people wherever we went.
I haven't finished downloading all of my images yet (I did take quite a few!!) so I will be posting anything I think you might like to see.
As always, thanks for stopping by and I hope you enjoyed the images of the birds (and animals) of South Africa.