Tour Leader: Peter Jones
Guiding: Wian van Zyl
Trip Report Author: Wian van Zyl

 

Day 1, 22/11/2016: Durban Umhlanga to Eshowe:
After some discussion the night before around the dinner table we decided to have a relaxed start to the day due to traveling fatigue. We ended up birding around the lodge and the lodge arranged access to their neighbor’s property. We started off with Olive Thrush, Tambourine Dove, Lesser Striped Swallow and had a calling Green-backed Camaroptera in the garden canopy constantly evading us. As soon as we entered the neighboring property we recorded Red-capped Robin-Chat as well as Southern Black Flycatcher. Walking around the property we further recorded Magpie Mannikin, Olive Sunbird, Crested- and White-eared Barbet and managed to get smashing views of African Paradise-Flycatcher. After breakfast we went for some birding at the Umhlanga Lagoon reserve whilst waiting for the rest of the client’s flight to arrive. Here we recorded Yellow-, Village-, Thick-billed-, Spectacled- and Southern Brown-throated Weaver. IMG 1976 166There was a misty rain that started to fall as we entered the forest vegetation and birding quiet down quite a bit with calls of Southern Boubou, Sombre Greenbul and Green-backed Camaroptera to entertain our ears. After covering some area in the reserve we continued on to “Blue Lagoon”, which is where the Umgeni river mouths into the Indian Ocean. Here there was a plethora of Grey-headed Gulls, Yellow- and Lesser Crested Terns as well as a Caspian Tern. We walked along the estuary and managed to come across Goliath Heron, Common Sandpiper, Sanderling, Common-ringed Plover and Pied Kingfisher. After the great birding at Blue Lagoon we went to pick up the remaining 3 clients from the airport only to find that they took a Taxi to the Lodge we were staying at. As soon as we picked them up at the lodge we made way to our next destination, Birds of Paradise B&B in Eshowe. We ended the day with a smashing 78 Species, which is great considering the difficult birding conditions thanks to the weather. Mammals for the day was just a single Red Duiker

Day 2, 23/11/2016: Birding Ongoye Forest, Amatikulu and Mtuzini
Today we had an early start meeting Sakhamuzi( Local BirdLife Guide) at 05:00 at Birds of Paradise Guest House. The weather started off pretty misty and rainy so we decided on starting around the Mtunzini area before making our way to Amatikulu Game Reserve. Before arriving in Mtunzini we went to a private farm(accessed was organized by Saki) and we quickly got smashing views of Collard Pratincole, African Pipit, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Pin-tailed Whydah, Yellow-throated Longclaw and Woolly-necked Stork. Some movement in the distance caught our eyes and upon further inspection we realized this fairly large black and white bird was in fact a Palm-nut Vulture, a special we got pretty quick and easy. We continued on to Ongoye Forest, specifically for Green Barbet and saw it literally minutes after getting out of the vehicle. We also managed African-Emerald Cuckoo, Grey Cuckooshrike, White-eared Barbet and a quick glimpse of Narina Trogon. From here we continued on to Umlalazi and managed to come by an African Hoopoe feeding next to the road in town. IMG 9903 40As we entered the reserve we got Trumpeter Hornbill, Purple-banded Sunbird, Common Sandpiper and Blacksmith Lapwing. Other species recorded here were Common-ringed Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Malachite-, Pied- and Giant Kingfishers and Afrian Fish-Eagle. We carried on to Amatikulu and en route stopped at a spot to get smashing views of Narina Trogon and a quick glimpse at Purple-crested Turaco. Once we arrived at Amatikulu our main focus was the Swamp Nightjar and managed to flush it to get e decent view and a record photograph of it. After a late lunch we ended off the day in the Dlinza Forest in Eshowe and mainly found the same species though some excitement was created in the form of our main target bird to end of the day a beautifully marked bird, Spotted Ground Thrush. After a long and busy day we ended back at the Guest House and had a Woolly-necked Stork sitting on the floodlight of the tennis court.

Day 3, 24/11/2016: Birding Dlinza Forest transfer to St. Lucia
    Having an early start on our last morning in Eshowe, we went to the Dlinza Forest Board Walk at 06:00 as the gates opened. Upon arrival we came upon Red-backed Shrike and White-necked Raven. We entered the Forest and tracked down Trumpeter Hornbill, Grey-, Olive- , Collard- and Greater Double-Collard Sunbird. We had a single African Green Pigeon from the tower as well as some views of Purple-crested Turaco. On our way back along the board walk we managed to get smashing views on a skulking Narina Trogon. Cape Batis and Chorister Robin-Chat entertained us lower down and we located a calling Red-Chested Cuckoo. After breakfast at the lodge we packed up and head to a dam north of Eshowe where we had great views of White-backed Duck, Hamerkop, Jackal Bizzard, African Fish-Eagle and finally a Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird. IMG 9804 33After the dam we made our way to St. Lucia and managed Wooly-necked Stork, Pied Wagtail, Long-crested Eagle and several Yellow-billed Kites. After a hasty check in we went on an afternoon boat cruise on St. Lucia estuary and amongst the countless Hippo around we saw flocks of Common- and Little Terns following the boat wakes, allowing us to get amazing photos. As we were sipping on cup of coffee (which our skipper “Bonga” made) we were surprised to see a Common Sandpiper jumping from hippo to hippo walking around on their half exposed bodies. The day ended off with some Yellow Weavers and a Brown-hooded Kingfisher as we entered the bay where the jetty was. Mammals for the day included Hippopotamus, Slender Mongoose, Red Duiker and Vervet Monkey.

Day 4, 25/11/2016: Birding St. Lucia
    Starting the day at 05:00 we had great views of Black-bellied Starling as well as Trumpeter Hornbill whilst waiting for “Themba”, the local guide to arrive. After his arrival he arranged with us a recently BirdLife qualified guide, “Bongiwe”, to accompany us. We started the morning off with the iGwalagwala trail within the town boundaries and quickly got Yellow-bellied- and Sombre Greenbul, Black-backed Puffback, glimpses of Brown Scrub-Robin and a calling Buff-Spotted Flufftail. We continued along the trail and located Eastern Nicator, Livingstones Turaco and Dark-backed Weaver. Upon finishing the trail we managed smashing views of Green-backed Camaroptera(Everyone got to see it this time), Purple-banded Sunbird and close views of the Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird a mere couple of feet above us. From here we moved on to where the St. Lucia Estuary mouths into the Indian Ocean and immediately took off with Pink-backed Pelican, Yellow-billed Stork, Grey- and Goliath Heron and African Spoonbill. IMG 1537 150Scanning through the various waders we managed Sanderling, Common Sandpiper, Little Stint, White-fronted- , Common-ringed and Grey Plover and an African Fish-eagle. Whilst we were mesmerized by the stunning scenery and plethora of avifauna a European Honey-Buzzard decided to circle above us and provided us with smashing views of it. We decided to head to the sewage plant and were greeted with Wood Sandpiper, African Jacana, Black-headed Heron and a wonderful Crowned Hornbill. We also managed to call out Yellow-breasted Apalis, Burchell’s Coucal and a Grey-headed Sunbird. Just as we were about to leave a Golden-tailed Woodpecker decided to distract us and put us off course. We continued on to where the bridge crosses the estuary and got astonishing views on the Brown-throated Weaver. Ending the day in the Crocodile Sanctuary parking lot we got great views of a dueting pair of Black-Collard Barbets and a lone Brown-hooded Kingfisher across the road.

Day 5, 26/11/2016: Birding Cape Vidal/iSimangaliso Wetland Park
    With another early start to the day we met “Pindile” (our local guide) and made our way to Cape Vidal within the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. We quickly came across Rufous-naped Lark, African Pipit, Yellow-throated Longclaw and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater. The habitat was a bit different than the dominant forest vegetation we’ve been in the last couple of days and the open grassland proved to be a very productive area. We further recorded African-wattled Lapwing, White-faced Whistling-Ducks and African Jacana at a watering hole and a good view over the estuary from a vantage point provided us with White-breasted- and Reed Cormorant, Ruff, Eurasian Curlew, Great- and Little Egret and an African Darter flying across the water. IMG 1407 139After the view point and a much needed breakfast nibble in the parking lot we were discussing the possibility of Southern Banded Snake-Eagle and within a few hundred meters spotted one on a powerline post, posing for all to see. After great photos of this guy Brown Snake-Eagle also appeared as well as countless Steppe(Common) Buzzard. Once we were at Cape Vidal we managed Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and mere vocalization of Green Twinspot, unfortunately we couldn’t locate the Twinspots. On our way back to St. Lucia we had spectacular views of a Western Osprey perched in a tree overlooking a dam. After some much need coffee we went to the Estuary mouth and recorded most of the same species only adding Black Heron to the newly found list. And a walk in the afternoon provided us with Crested Guineafowl, African Goshawk, Livingstone Turaco and once again tantalizing vocalization of Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher. Mammals for the day included Red Duiker, Greater Kudu, Impala, Waterbuck, Cape Buffalo,et.

Day 6, 27/11/2016: St. Lucia transfer to Mkhuze Game Reserve
    Waking up at 05:00 we made our way to the iGwalgwala trail within the town vicinity. We managed to record some species we missed as well as get some optics on some birds we got to see previously but not too well. We started off with great views of Brown Scrub-Robin after a hard search. We managed to get the individual in the scope and have smashing views of him. As we continued we tried calling out Green Malkoah, there was an immediate answer but is was not too be. After long and hard calling we got glimpses of Blue Mantle-Crested Flycatcher and managed to find Trumpeter- as well as Crowned Hornbill lurking about. A walk around to the estuary provided us with wonderful views of Rudd’s Apalis and we got mostly the same waterbirds with only having a Lesser-masked Weaver recorded as new. IMG 2596 210After some grocery shopping we made our way to Mkhuze and immediately gor Laughing Dove, Red-billed Oxpecker(perched on a donkey before the reserve) and Cape Glossy Starling. After settling in we went on the “Bushveld Loop” and got great views of African Pygmy Kingfisher, Green-winged Pytilia and Golden-tailed Woodpecker. Mammals for the day were Impala, Nyala, Giraffe, Bkue-Wildebeest, Red- nd Comon Duiker, Chacma baboobs and a Thivk-tailed buahbay (Greater Galago)

Day 7, 28/11/2016: Birding Mkhuze Game Reserve
    With a 05:00 start we managed to get into the Sand Forest area of Mkuze nice and early and got species such as Sabota Lark, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and Black Cuckooshrike. The plan was to go to some hides in the area to see if we could pick up on some water birds and riverine edge birds. We managed Bearded Scrub-Robin, African Openbill, Black-winged Stilt and Blue-cheeked Bee-eater. After lunch and a rest in the 34 degree heat we went out at 14:00 and did a loop around the airstrip to the same pan as this morning.  IMG 0350 63We got a Neergaard’s Sunbird female building a nest at a hide and got smashing views of Emerald-sppotted Wood-Dove. We continued along the mixed woodland vegetation and got Southern Black Tit, White-crested Helmet-Shrike as well as Cardinal Woodpecker. At the hide at … pan we got Woodlands Kingfisher, Common House Martin, Blue-cheaked- and European Bee-eater and Grey-tit Flycatcher. The heat was getting the better of the group so we decided to jump into the vehicle and continue along back to camp and just before arriving we got a couple of White-backed Vultures perched in a tree.

Day 8, 29/11/2016: Mkhuze Game Reserve transfer to Wakkerstroom
    With another 05:00 start to the day we made way to the Kumasinga hide (which unfortunately was under construction) to hunt down the Pink-throated Twinspot. En route we came across Crowned Eagle (which only showed briefly) and a Tawny Eagle perched in a distant tree. After passing some White-backed Vultures in a dead tree we managed to get to the hide’s parking area. It took a good 45 minutes before we could pick up on the Twinspot’s soft, high pitch contact call. We got great views of them repeatedly showing themselves briefly very close to us. After being well satisfied with the Twinspots we went past the Airstrip to look for 2 Cheetah’s that were reported by another guide, unfortunately they’ve moved off by the time we got there. We did manage to get grea views of Crowned Lapwing and Red-backed Shrike. We carried on to another hide and got Blue Waxbill, Cardinal Woodpecker, a skulking Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike and a nesting Little Bee-Eater. IMG 2537 205Once we were at the hide we go African Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Stork, Great egret, Emerald spotted Wood-Dove, Wood Sandpiper and Trumpeter Hornbill. A beautiful displaying Purple-banded Sunbird perched in front of us whilst we got a few more views on Pink-throated Twinspot. On our way out we got Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill and a quick view of am Eastern Nicator. En route to Wakkerstroom we managed Steppe Buzzard, African Paradise Flycatcher, Blue Crane and a Long-crested Eagle. We arrived at the Guest House around 16:30 and had a walk around after checking in. We got great views of Southern Red Bishop, Cape Weaver, South African Shelduck, Pied Starling and Red-knobbed Coot. Mammals for the day included Zebra, Giraffe, Baboon, Vervet Monkeys, Nyala, Impala, Slender Mongoose and we got a great view of a Leopard Tortoise (although not a mammal).

Day 9, 30/11/2016: Birding Wakkerstroom
    With our breakfast packs loaded and high in spirits, we headed out again at around 05:00 to tackle Wakkerstroom for some grassland birding. We picked up “Norman” (Our local guide) and started off with Buff-streaked Chat, Capped- and Mountain Wheatear, Cape Bunting, Red-winged Francolin and Sentinel Rock-Thrush. After continuing along the wind picked up to gale force speeds and mad birding difficult. Even though the wind mad it tough we managed to track down Yellow-breasted Pipit and Eastern Long-billed Lark of which both were our target species for this specific road. IMG 9122 4We fueled up in town and made our way through the Wakkerstroom farmlands and managed to record Southern Bald Ibis, White Stork, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Spike-heeled Lark, Blue Crane and Grey-crowned Crane. We had spectacular views of Jackal Buzzard as well as Red-capped Lark and constantly passed Common Buzzard perched on the power line poles. Struggling to track down Rudd’s Lark we decided to continue and came upon a dam with Greater Flamingo, Maccoa Duck, Southern Pochard, South African Shelduck and a whole load of Red-knobbed Coots. We made our way to a spot to look for Botha’s Lark and managed to get absolutely great views as well as photos of these magnificent little specimens. On our way back to town we got Grey-winged Francolin and African marsh Harrier. Once we finished our late lunch we managed to find Southern White-bellied Korhaan and end of the day in high spirits, as it should be.

Day 10, 01/12/2016: Wakkerstroom transfer to Kruger National Park
    With a later start to the day than usual we departed from Forellenhof Guest House (absolutely amazing place) around 09:00 and headed straight for the world renowned (and rightfully so) Kruger National Park. We managed to record a few good species en route which included Whiskered Tern, Greater Flamingo, Long-crested Eagle and a big group of Yellow-billed Kites circiling over the freeway, hawking on a termite elate eruption. As soon as we checked in at Crocodile Bridge reception we continued straight for Lower Sabi Rest Camp agreeing to only stop for great finds. IMG 0657 79Not long upon entering the reserve we came across a family of 6 Southern Ground Hornbill right next to the road pecking in amongst a Rhino Midden (toilet) digging up beetles and all sorts, after filling half a memory card and facing serious heat we continued with our journey to the rest camp. Some other species that we recorded included Magpie Shrike, Lilac-breasted Roller, African Openbill, Saddle-billed Stork, Whalberg’s Eagle and many more common birds within the park. Considering that today was mainly a travel day we recorded a fair amount of good birds and arrived in Lower Sabi with great excitement for what the next few days may in Kruger may bring. Mammals included Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Blesbok, Impala, Kudu, Giraffe and Zebra.

Day 11, 02/12/2016: Birding Kruger National Park
    With an early start to the day we decided to go out to Sunset dam and the low level bridge for some birding before our Safari Vehicle Driver arrived at Lower Sabi. We managed to get phenomenal views of White-crowned Lapwing, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver and some Ruff at Sunset Dam. When we crossed the river we managed Reed Cormorant, Green-backed Heron, African Fish-eagle and Little Swift. As soon as our driver arrived we hopped into the vehicle and made our way along the Southern area of Lower Sabi and got great views of Wattled Starling, Lilac-breasted-, European and Purple Roller. IMG 9868 38Upon driving past a carcass in the distance we managed to identify Lappet-faced-, Cape, White-backed and Hooded Vulture off the main road. We continued along and after some good views of a couple of lions in the shade trying to escape the African sun we got Southern Black-tit, Black-crowned Tchagra, Brown-crowned Tchagara. We made our way around the area after a picnic stop and got Orange-breasted-, and Grey-headed Bushshrike and Long-billed Crombec. We closed ended the day in a hide recording Wood Sandpiper and Woodland Kingfisher. After a long, yet not too tough, day we arrived at camp and carried on birding after the rain.

Day 12, 03/12/2016: Birding Kruger National Park
    Waking up to roaring Lions on our second day in Kruger we set out at 05:00 to see what the day holds. Before we left camp we got smashing views of White-browed Robin-Chat, Terrestrial Brownbul and Saddle-billed Stork. As we pulled in at Sunset Dam we got up close and personal with Black-crowned Night-Heron and Pied Kingfisher. After getting some good views of 3 big male Lions we continued south along the main road in search of all things feathered. We soon got Brown-headed Parrot, Purple Heron and Lappet-faced Vulture. IMG 9991 46We continued on to a hide where we had some Elephant drinking water and recorded White-browed Scrub-Robin and Wood Sandpiper. As we slowly made our way back to camp we managed to get great views of 2 African Hawk-Eagle’s as well as Martial Eagle. We then made our way to Skukuza and had a pretty quiet drive there only managing to get African Harrier-Hawk, Little Bee-eater and Tawny Eagle in flight. After checking in and a late lunch we set of for Lake Panic hide. Because of it being a Saturday the hide was fairly busy, but we managed to grab seats and were delighted with the likes of Squacco Heron, Pied Kingfisher and African Fish-Eagle. We also went to the nursery and the golf course mainly to hunt down Broad-billed Roller, what an amazing bird that is. Mammals for the day included Lions, Eephant, Buffalo, White Rhino, Waterbuck, Giraffe, etc.

Day 13, 04/12/2016: Birding Kruger National Park
    Waking up at 05:00 we had a brief walk around the camp before meeting our Safari Vehicle driver (Chris-man) at 06:00. We got great views of a skulking Gorgeous Bush-Shrike(took us a while to get optics on the guy). We were also rewarded with Willow Warbler and African Goshawk before leaving the camp. As we went out we got Western Osprey, Jacobin- and Levaiilants Cuckoo, White-fronted Bee-eater as well as Lesser Grey Shrike. We continued along to Lower Sabi and scanned a kettle of vultures only to be rewarded with a new species for the trip, White-headed Vulture. After having a quick bite to eat we made our way to Tshokwane Picnic outpost. IMG 0350 63En route we got Tawny Eagle, Southern Ground Hornbill, Common Ostrich, a Grey Heron surfing a Hippo and Secretarybird. Just before entering Tshokwane we had a great sighting of a lazy Leopard in a tree, legs dangling down, sheltering from the mid-day heat. Whilst having a bite to eat we got African Mourning Dove and a whole host of other regulars. En route back to Skukuza we managed to fins some more Southern Ground Hornbill, Magpie Shrike and just before entering camp a perched Marabou Stork panting in the late afternoon heat. Mammals for the day included the entire Big 5 as well as Hippo, Giraffe, Kudu, Bushbuck, Waterbuck, Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, Klipspringer,etc.

Day14, 05/12/2016: Kruger National Park transfer to Dullstroom
    Starting the day bright and early we were rewarded with smashing views of Scarlet-chested Sunbird whilst we were loading up the van to head out to Lake Panic hide. En route to the hide we had a great view of a clan of about 8 Spotted Hyena and shortly after that a small pride of Lions (with very inquisitive you males) just before the hide itself. We entered the hide and started off pretty quiet but soon were rewarded with the likes of Squacco Heron, African Fish-Eagle, Water Thick-Knee, African Jacana, Amur Falcons mobbing a Yellow-billed Kite, Pied Kingfisher and a Wire-tailed Swallow adult feeding a youngling. IMG 1696 152After spending quite some time at the hide we decided to drive around just before breakfast and recorded calls of African- and Black Cuckoo just before jumping in the van. On our little drive around we encountered Bateleur, Lilac-breasted Roller, Red-backed Shrike, Marabou Stork and a great Elephant bull sighting. After a hearty breakfast we started to make our way out of the park getting Saddle-billed Stork, Grey-Go-Away-Bird, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill and Tawny-flanked Prinia before exiting the park. The rest of the drive was a travel day to Dullstroom to get some Highveld Grassland birding in before our flight to Cape Town the net day. As soon as we entered the Dullstroom area we recorded Southern Red Bishop, Long-crested Eagle, Steppe (Common) Buzzard, Long-tailed Widowbird and Southern Fiscal. We continued along the dirt track to the guest house and managed African Olive Pigeon and Olive Thrush upon arrival at the guest house. Other mammals for the day included Buffalo, Waterbuck, Nyala,Kudu, Impala, Banded Mongoose, etc.

Southern Ground Hornbill – Bucorvus leadbeateri

Cape Extension:

Day 01, 06/12/2016 Dullstroom flight transfer to Simonstown (Cape Town)
    The day started around 05:00 in just outside the small town of Dullstroom. The habitat and altitude here is very similar to that we had in Wakkerstroom, so most of the same species were expected. It was very misty around 05:00 and seemed to be clearing up as we left for birding but as the morning progressed it got really thick again. We did manage to get great views of Yellow-breasted Pipit(better than what we had in Dullstroom), Grey-winged Francolin, Red-capped Lark, Cape Long-claw and a species we dipped on in Wakkerstroom(which we were really hoping to get here) the Denham’s Bustard. IMG 2537 205This individual was flying a wide circle around us and gave us spectacular views of it before disappearing into the distance over a ridge. As soon as the mist got really thick we decided to make our way to Johannesburg to board our flight to South Africa’s “Mother City”, Cape Town. After stopping for breakfast en rout we managed to record Cape Sparrow, Steppe- and Jackal Buzzard and had some good new mammal species with the likes of Red-hartebeest, Springbuck and Black Wildebeest. As we boarded our flight we saw our last Johannesburg birds, House Sparrow and Long-tailed Widowbird. Although not exciting it is worth mentioning that we saw these from the plane as we were taking off. Upon arrival in Cape Town we managed to record Hartlaub’s Gull, Kelp Gull, Cape Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant, Greater Flamingo, Red-knobbed Coot and Speckled Pigeon.


Day 02, 07/12/2016: Simonstown Pelagic Seabird Trip
Guided by Vincent Ward:
As we set out of Simonstown harbor, we quickly added Cape and White-Breasted Cormorant, Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gull, Common Swift and Sandwich Tern to the day’s list.
Just past the breakwater, a Pomarine Jaeger was sighted harassing a flock of Swift Terns. No sooner had we finished with the jaeger, when three Common Bryde’s Whales, including a calf, were sighted. Sun-bathing African Penguins could be seen on the shore at Boulder’s Beach penguin colony.
We stopped at Cape Point for the obligatory photo opportunity before heading out into the open ocean. Cape Gannets were present in good numbers just off the point.
As we encountered the oceanic swells, the first of the day’s White-Chinned Petrels, Sooty and Cory Shearwaters were seen.
IMG 0842 100We received reports on the location of several working trawlers and headed off to find them.
At the first vessel, we quickly spotted Shy, Black-Browed, Atlantic and Indian Yellow-Nosed Albatross, Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Great Shearwater, Sabine’s Gull, Sub-Antarctic Skua, and European Storm-Petrel. Cape Fur Seals were ever present.
At the next trawler, we located the very sought-after Spectacled Petrel, as well as several Great-Winged Petrels.
We spent some time enjoying the spectacle of thousands of pelagic seabirds, before heading back to land.
The trip back to shore offered up more of the same species we had seen throughout the day. Large numbers of terns were feeding at Cape Point and into False Bay.
We briefly stopped at Partridge Point to view the resident breeding Bank Cormorants.
Just past Froggy Pond, the call of “Dolphins went out”. A pod of around three dozen Long-Beaked Common Dolphins joined the boat and stayed with us until just past Boulder’s Beach - great way to cap off an excellent trip.
While going over the species list for the day, we spotted a Crowned Cormorant, rounding out the fourth marine cormorant species for the day.
Thanks to Dave and Josh for their excellent skippering.

MARINE MAMMALS
•    Common Bryde’s Whale Balaenoptera brydei
•    Cape Fur Seal Arctocephalus p. pusillus
•    Long-beaked Common Dolphin Delphinus capensis

Day 03, 08/12/2016: Birding Cape Peninsula and False Bay Game Reserve
    With some Mega rarities being reported the last week in South Africa we managed to be in Cape Town the same time these birds were present. We made our way straight to False Bay Nature Reserve (AKA Strandfontein Sewage Works). We arrived good and early and were greeted with a magnitude of waterfowl such as Red-knobbed Coots and Common Moorhen and made our way through the pans to head straight to the pan where the Teminck’s Stint was last seen. After looking around for about 20 minutes we managed to relocate the individual and was rewarded with great views only a couple of meters away. IMG 2203 183This is only the 3rd ever recorded individual for South Africa and caused a great uproar in the local birding community. We managed to relocate the reported American Golden Plover and Pectoral Sandpiper as well, which were the other target rarities for the area. Other species for the morning included Great White Pelican, Cape Teal, Pied Avocet, Lesser Flamingo, Cape Spurfowl, and Ruddy Turnstone. After a brunch back at the guest house the group rested up, feeling quite exhausted due to the previous day’s pelagic trip. After having a look at the weather forecast for the Cape Town area for the next day we decided to make our way to Rooiels to specifically go track down Cape Rockjumper. Early morning is usually best to look for these birds so it was a bit of a gamble but they didn’t take very long to show themselves and offered great photographic views right in the open. We also managed Rock Kestrel, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Ground Woodpecker and White-necked Raven. The only mammals for the day were the Elephant’s closest relative, a rugby ball sized mammal called a Rock Hyrax (Dassie)

Day 04, 09/12/2016: Simonstown transfer to Langebaan
    With yet another early start to the day we woke to really windy and rainy weather in Simonstown. Our initial plan was to go down to Cape Point for a few hours but considering the weather conditions it wasn’t worth it. We came to the conclusion of staying behind and planned to leave for Langebaan (via Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens) after breakfast. The weather was still pretty murky and rainy by the time we had arrived at the gardens. But no matter, we decided it would be a good idea to walk around. We were soon rewarded with the likes of Cape Spurfowl, Brimstone- and Forest Canary. IMG 1487 144We also managed to get great views of a female Southern Double-banded Sunbird responding to our call. We got great views of Cape Bulubul, Sombre Greenbul, Cape Batis as well as very photogenic Cape Sugarbirds. After a quick coffee we continued along to Langebaan and en route took a 3km detour on the beachfront in Table View, mainly to look for Black Oystercatcher. We were rewarded with 3 pairs running around right in front of us feeding, piping and preening- What a magnificent bird! We recorded Lesser Kestre, Common Ostrich and Steppe Buzzard en route to Langebaan. After checking in we decided to go look for the resident breeding pair of Verreaux’s Eagles. Before we got to the quarry we were surprised with the likes of Karoo Scrub-Robin, Cape Canary, White-backed Mousebird, Brimston Canary and Cape Sparrow. As we walked a little closer to the quarry (as driving would scare them plus isn’t allowed) we managed to get magnificent views of the male and female Verreaux’s Eagles. As we continued along back we further recorded Rock Kestrel, Crowned Lapwing as well as a White-throated Canary.

Day 05, 10/12/2016: Birding West Coast National Park
    With yet another day waking to great weather in the Western Cape we made our way to West Coast National Park for a last full day of excitement. Whilst waiting for the Park’s gate to open we were greeted with the likes of Acacia Pied Barbet, White-backed Mousebird, Cape Robin-Chat, Karoo Scrub-Robin, and a perched Black-winged Kite in the distance. Upon entering the park we got Cape Spurfowl, Yellow Canary, Cape Bulbul and Yellow-billed Kite. We made our way to a hide not too far from the entrance and enjoyed some shorebird birding. IMG 0442 66We got Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Sandwich and Common Tern, Little Stint and a good tally of Greater Flamingo. As we continued in the park we recorded some good birds here and there, which included Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler, Jackal Buzzard, Malachite Sunbird and Southern Double-collard Sunbird. The wind picked up quite a bit and the birding went fairly quiet. We did manage to get good views of Black Harrier, African Marsh Harrier and Common Ostrich. Before leaving the park we decided to go past the first hide we visited. This time round we got most of the dame stuff but added Kittlitz’s Plover, Cape Clapper Lark, Cape Bunting, Swift Tern, Lesser Flamingo and Red Knot.

Day 06, 11/12/2016: Langebaan transfer to Cape Town International Airport for end of trip
    With this being our last day of the tour we had a quick birding session before breakfast to try and pick up some new stuff. We headed to the same area where we found the Verreaux’s Eagle and walked around into another quarry where we had good distant views of the pair again, we also recorded Rock Kestrel, Grey-backed Cisticola, Karoo Srcub-Robin, Karoo Prinia and White backed Mousebird. IMG 9095 3Just as we were leaving the spot we had a smallish UFO fly ahead of us and after tracking it down we were pleased to find it to be a Namaqua Dove. We went out of Langebaan town to bird an open grassland area and recorded Capped Wheatear, Blue Crane, Spotted Thick-knee and Long-billed Crombec.
As we were driving back to the airport in Cape Town we saw countless Common Buzzard and Yellow-billed Kite and had a good visual of a Black Harrier. We dropped off the first couple of clients and decided to go to False Bay Nature Reserve to kill some time before the next couple’s flight. Here we managed to relocate on a Red-necked Phalarope and an American Golden Plover(both rarities for South Africa) We also go good views of Marsh Sandpiper, Black Oyestercatcher, Swift-,Sandwich- and Common Tern, Great White Pelican, Cape Teal, Cape Shoveler, Lesser- and Greater Flamingo and many more water bird species, a spectacular way to end the tour.