Last Updated on 17 August 2016
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Trip Report to South Africa

23-08-2014 - 18-09-2014

Ground Woodpecker - Lesotho - 2014-09-10 - 18 copy PBase

Ground Woodpecker was high on our wanted list! Photographed at Sani Pass, Lesotho.

General Information
This is a report on a trip to north west and south east South Africa from August 22nd to September 18th 2014. The main goal of the trip was to see as many bird species as possible, as well as taking loads of pictures of them whenever possible. As this was our second visit to the country (the first was way back in 2005) we focused on seeing the species not seen before, either here or in other African countries we visited. Another reason for our focus was the rest of our family that travelled together with us. Although they are very interested in birds they do not feel the need to see as many new birds as possible as we do. Despite this we managed to see 395 bird species in four weeks which was above expectations. We also focused on seeing as many mammals as possible, something we did extremely well and were incredibly lucky on with 60 species recorded, included many sought after species.

Among the best birds seen during this trip were Palm-nut Vulture, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, African Crowned Eagle, Red-winged Francolin, Blue Crane, Pel's Fishing-Owl, Ground Woodpecker, Rudd's Lark, Drakensberg Rock-jumper, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Yellow-breasted Pipit, and Drakensberg Siskin. The mammals were well-represented too: African Clawless Otter, Spotted-necked Otter, African Wildcat, Aardvark, Porcupine, Cheetah, Grey Rhebok, and Great White Shark (OK, not a mammal bit still worth mentioning ofcourse) all put in an appearance.

Pels Fishing Owl - Mkuze - 2014-09-06 - 01 copy

Pel's Fishing Owl in Mhkuze Game Reserve. After doing 5 unsuccessful boat trips for this species in Botswana in 2007, we finally connected with it!

In this report we will discuss the areas we visited during this trip and add some information on the areas we visited during our first visit to South Africa in 2005. Unless stated otherwise each chapter is about our experiences during our 2014 visit.

Kruger National Park is the oldest and probably most famous nature park in Africa. It attracts millions of people each year and it may be wise to book accommodation up front, availability could be a problem during holidays. Many state operated rest camps are available which offer cottages, group accommodations and camping spots. There are also a few bush camps, basic camp sites with little or no amenities. All accommodations are fenced, including the privately operated camps, which are mostly located just outside the Kruger Park. Usually they offer more luxurious facilities but this comes at a price, of course.

Both state- and private accommodations (as do most other game reserves in the country) offer a variety of excursions, including guided safari tours during various hours of the day, including at night. The latter is the only way to venture out at night and a good (and not very expensive) way to have a chance at those most-wanted nocturnal animals. Although a strong focus is on mammals they will usually point out appealing birds like owls and Nightjars, when asked for, extra attention can be given to birds. Kruger National Parks does not hold many bird species that you can not see elsewhere, although a visit to the northern part is advised, especially when you visit South Africa in summer.

Vijgenbos wandeling - Mkuze - 2005-07-31 - 07 copy

Most safari excursions in any national park are operated in an open all-terrain vehicle and includes an armed guard.

We stayed in a variety of accommodations including bungalows, full scale houses and charming bed and breakfasts. Except for the Wakkerstroom Farm Lodge (which was OK) all accommodations were great to stay at, especially the privately-owned ones. For all accommodations please refer to the "Accommodations" section further on in this report.

All photographs displayed are produced during this trip. For each photo details are included about what it depicts and where the picture is taken. All photographs produced during this trip can be found at the travel picture gallery. All pictures are copyrighted but we are happy to provide you with a high res copy upon request. All the major bird (and other) observations of this trip can also be found at Observado, a website where one can enter their nature-related sightings. Details include the location, number of birds seen and sometimes details of the particular sighting as well. All other observations recorded during various other trips can be found at Observado as well.

In this report the names of each bird and of all important places we visited are typed in bold. This should make it easier to scan through the report for the information you’re after or skip the parts you are not interested in.

If any questions still remain after reading this report or if would like some help while you're planning a trip to South Africa yourself, please do not hesitate to contact us and we'll try to help you as much as possible. For future reference you may want to download this report in PDF format.

Guides in South Africa

As many of the best birdwatching areas in South Africa are well-known and in most cases publicly accessible you may want to try and go birdwatching on your own. We used the services of a guide both at Wakkerstroom and at Sani Pass which both turned out to be extremely good choices as the guides were very skilled and knew which birds to get where.

Cape Longclaw - Underberg - 2014-09-11 - 05 copy PBase

Cape Longclaw is common around Wakkerstroom.

At Wakkerstroom we were guided for 1 day by Lucky. He is employed at the Wakkerstroom branch of Birdlife International and involved on all sorts of protection programs around and beyond Wakkerstroom. He is a very kind and gentle person who certainly knows his way around Wakkerstroom and its specialties. Aided by him we found very good birds including White-bellied Korhaan, Blue Korhaan, Botha's Lark, Yellow-breasted Pipit and Denham's Bustard. If you would like to be accompanied by a guide while birding at Wakkerstroom send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

For the one day excursion to Sani Pass we were actually guided by two guides: Stewart McLean and Malcolm Gemmell. Both are very knowledgeable about the birds of the area, full of energy and pushing on continuously to get the birds you need. In addition they are both great guys to get along with. I think it's safe to say that our trip to Sani Pass was the highlight of our holiday which is completely owed to both of them! The best birds seen under their guidance: Drakensberg Rockjumper, Drakensberg Canary, Drakensberg Siskin, Ground Woodpecker, Fairy Flycatcher, Red-winged Francolin, Large-billed Lark, Grey Tit, Sickle-winged Chat and Layard's Warbler. In addition Sani Pass held some interesting mammals including Grey Rhebok, Mountain Reedbuck and Sloggett's Vlei Rat.

Sloggetts Vlei Rat - Sanipass - 2014-09-10 - 01 copy PBase

Locally known as Icerat, Sloggett's Vlei rat is very common in the highlands of South Africa and Lesotho.

Itinerary

 23-24 Aug - Flight Amsterdam - Johannesburg.

 24 Aug - Drive to Blyde River Lodge 20 km west of Hoedspruit

 24-27 Aug- Stay at Blyde River Wilderness Lodge, including visit to Three Rondavels, Burke's Luck Potholes

 27-29 Aug - Stay at Satara Rest Camp, Kruger National Park

 29-31 Aug - Stay at Skukuza Rest Camp, Kruger National Park

 31 Aug-3 Sep - Stay at Wakkerstroom Farm Lodge, Wakkerstroom

 3-6 Sep - Stay at Mantuma Camp, Mhkuze Game Reserve

 6-9 Sep - Stay at Elephant Coast Guest House, St. Lucia / Isimangaliso Wetland Park

 9-12 Sep - Stay at Penwarn Country Lodge, Underberg, including Sani Pass visit

 12 Sep - Domestic flight to Cape Town

 12-14 Sep - Stay at Francolin Hof, Hermanus

 14-18 Sep - Stay at Dream House Guest House, Houtbaai

 18-19 Sep - Flight Cape Town - Amsterdam


Transportation and getting around

As we usually do we travelled around by rental car obtained from Sunny Cars. Well, actually two rental cars to accommodate the seven of us. Generally speaking South Africa is an easy country to travel around as the quality of the roads is quite good. We hired GPS navigation for both cars and looked up the GPS coordinates of all our accommodations in advance. As it turned out they were useless as it was impossible to enter GPS coordinates into either GPS unit. We were fortunate to have all addresses of the accommodations at hand so we never got lost.

We were very unfortunate to have no less than 5 flat tires in 4 weeks, giving us plenty opportunity to meet with local representatives of the car rental company although we wished we wouldn't have to. In all instances we were delivered a new car quite fast causing us not too much delay, except for the first day of our stay when we had two flats on the same car. As it was impossible to continue we were forced to wait until dusk before another car was delivered. Driving to the Blyde River Wilderness at night however caused us little problems, except maybe for the giant cow that was hit by an equally giant truck only seconds before us passing it.

Wakkerstroom - Miranda Petra Michel - 2014-09-02 - 09 copy PBase

Trying to change one of 5 (!!) flat tires we had during this trip.

Weather

As we visited a range of habitats and altitudes we also experienced a wide range of temperatures. At Wakkerstroom (which is around 2000 meters altitude) the night temperature dropped as low as -13 degrees C, also at Sani Pass temperatures were below zero at night. In both places daytime temperatures were around 10-15 degrees. In other places temperatures during daytime were between 15-28 degrees and around 10 degrees at night. Weather was generally sunny with some clouds sometimes although the last two days of our stay in Cape Town were unpleasant with lots of wind and rain.

Wakkerstroom - Temperatuur - 2014-09-03 - 02 copy PBase

At night the temperature in Wakkerstroom would drop below -10°C.

Safety

Safety could be a concern when travelling round the country. Reports of robberies and car burglaries are numerous and houses of the "happy few" are, without exception, guarded 24/7, many times by armed guards. We were warned several times by South Africans not to wander around in certain areas and to take care were to point our bins and camera at. On both visits in 2005 and 2014 we experienced no trouble at all but we know quite some people that did. If you're unsure about the situation were you stay always inform yourself on the do's and don'ts of the area.

Currency

The South African national currency is the Rand which at the time of our trip was worth around 0,012. ATM's are pretty much in any mall or street and usually they actually work too! Be aware though that usually the equal of around €200 is the maximum amount to withdraw which could be insufficient at times.

Literature

For identification of the birds we encountered we used the brand new print of SASOL's "Birds of Southern Africa", released just weeks before our departure (ISBN# 978-1-77007-925-0). Compared to the previous (2002) copy many plates were completely renewed and of course some recent additions to the Southern African bird lists were added for the sake of completeness. For identification of the mammals we used "The Kingdon guide to African Mammals" (ISBN 0-7136-6981-0) which displays al animals with drawings of generally good quality. Last but not least SASOL's "Southern African Bird Finder" (ISBN 1-86872-725-4) was used to figure out which places to visit. If any, make sure to pack this guide as it is essential in finding the right places and usually makes sure you find the birds you're after. Besides South Africa this guide also deals with the best places to visit in Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Therefore this is literally the main guide for anyone visiting either one of these countries.

Food & Accommodation

During our 2014 trip we stayed at various accommodation types ranging from guest houses to cottages. All were of good to very good quality, pleasant to stay at and usually suited our needs very well. Below all accommodations are discussed, including the ones we visited during our 2005 trip.

Blyde River Wilderness logde

Hoedspruit - Accomodation Blyde River Wilderness Lodge - 2014-08-24 - 01 copy PBase

Stylish rooms at the Blyde River Wilderness Lodge.

Located right alongside the Blyde River this accommodation is very suitable for any birdwatcher. The cottages are very spacious, equipped with a fridge and all come with a view on the river (which is not anything impressive though). Although the mammals (Giraffe, Zebra and Impala) that roam around the site are introduced

the Hippos in the river as well as the Greater Galagos at the backdoor of the restaurant are as wild as they get. Interesting birds included Cape Vulture, African Finfoot, Tambourine Dove, Mountain Wagtail, Malachite Sunbird, Brimstone Canary and Bronzed Mannikin.

Satara Restcamp, Krugerpark

Krugerpark - Accommodation Satara - 2014-08-28 - 01 copy PBase

The cabins at Satara Restcamp are quite old-fashioned but still suitable for visitors to the park.

Many different accommodations are available in the Satara restcamp including those for bigger groups of people. Satara has an assortment of restaurants and gift shops. We stayed at 2-person cottages which were equipped with an outside kitchen including a fridge and a braai. The camp features a waterhole which is lit at night which enabled you to see some nocturnal mammals and birds. Sightings from the central part of the Krugerpark are featured near the reception and includes the most interesting mammals and (few) birds. Sightings of rhinos (both species) are suppressed though as poaching is an enormous threat these days, in 2012 only over 1000 rhinos were killed in South Africa alone, posing a major problem for the survival of the species.

Most interesting sightings within Satara restcamp included Little Sparrowhawk, Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, African Green Pigeon, Greater Honeyguide, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike, Brubru, South African Galago, African Civet and Spotted Bushsnake.


Skukuza Restcamp, Krugerpark

Skukuza is the main rest camp in the Kruger National Park and the largest as well. It has all that one could wish for, at both rest camps you can attend a variety of excursions, including morning walks with an armed ranger, morning-, evening- and night drives which are accompanied by experienced guides. We stayed at the same kind of accommodation as we did in Satara: 2-person cottages equipped with an outside kitchen including a fridge and a braai.

Most interesting sightings within Skukuza Rest camp included Martial Eagle, Burnt-necked Eremomela, White-crested Helmet-shrike, Red-billed Firefinch, Greater Galago, White-tailed Mongoose, African Civet, Porcupine and Black Rhinoceros.

Wakkerstroom Farm Lodge, Wakkerstroom

Wakkerstroom Farm Lodge is among the few accommodations in the town of Wakkerstroom. As Wakkerstroom is at around 2000 metres the nights were very cold (reaching temperatures of -13° C) but fortunately each bed was equipped with an electrical blanket! We were greated at the 19-th century colonial style house by employee Emma. Unfortunately communicating with Emma was hampered by the fact that she did not speak English very well and we came short of Afrikaans. Nevertheless she was extremely hospitable and the meals she cooked were excellent. Having breakfast at a very early hour was no problem.

Wakkerstroom - Wakkerstroom Farm Lodge - 2014-09-03 - 01 copy PBase

The colonial style residence "Saxony" at the Wakkerstroom Farm Lodge.

Not much interesting birds were to be seen around the house but the Meerkat familiy at the farm lands opposite the entrance to the compound were great.

Mantuma Camp, Mhkuze Game Reserve

Mantuma Camp is one of those unfenced camp sites and therefore might be extra adventurous to stay for some. Since our previous visit in 2005 all cottages were renovated which was quite neccesary. Nowadays they're of good quality and the doors will lock too (which they didn't in 2005). Mantuma is designated for self caterers but it features the Rhine-o-Dino take away restaurant which has lots of tasty items on the menu including tasty burgers, Ostrich pitta and a tramazini. Like the cottages the food has improved considerably since our last visit. Mantuma also provides camping facilities.

Pink-throated Twinspot - Mkuze - 2005-07-31 - 04 copy

Pink-throated Twinspot drinking from water coming from a tap near the Rhin-O-Dino takeaway in 2005. Sadly these taps were not in use anymore in 2014.

Mhkuze is well known for the many special birds that occur and we saw lots of them. Next to the reception is a small hide which enables you to enjoy birds at close quarters. A Green Twinspot was found here two out of five visits! Other goodies at mantuma Camp included Gabar Goshwak, African Paradise-Flycatcher and Grey Waxbill. During our 2005 stay we encountered a group of Pink-throated Twinspot in Mantuma Rest camp as well.

Grey Waxbill - Mkuze - 2014-09-04 - 02 copy PBase

Grey Waxbill can be seen anywhere in the Mhkuze Game Reserve.

Elephantcoast Guest House, St. Lucia

The Elephant Guest House is located inside the town of St. Lucia and operated by a Dutch couple. All rooms are very good, well equipped and even better decorated. St. Lucia is well known for the large population of Hippopotamus in the area. Each night we tried to encounter them in the streets. Although we were warned twice by locals that one or two were seen around the corner we did not find them. Finally during our last night two marched through the garden of the geust house. The owners put out scraps of food each night which attracts Large-spotted Genets. When staying in St Lucia make sure to visit a restaurant named Reef and Dune (along the main street near the gas station) as the serve extremely good food.

St Lucia - Accommodatie Elephant Guest House - 2014-09-08 - 02 copy PBase

The garden of Elephantcoast Guest house. Spotted Ground-thrush and Livingstone's Turaco were found here.

The gardens of the Elephant Guest House are planted with lots of large trees making it a good place for birds to shelter. This resulted in some nice birds found: Livingstone's Turaco, Spotted Ground-Thrush, White-starred Robin, Woodward's Batis and Brown Scrub-Robin.

Penwarn Country Lodge (Mtini Lodge), Underberg

Unanimously we agreed that Penwarn Country Lodge was the accommodation with the most spectacular view at our doorstep. In fact it ranks as the best lodge we ever stayed at but this is mainly from a birdwatchers point of view. We stayed at Mtini Lodge which is the name of a building located around 600 metres away from the main buildings. It accommodates a maximum of 8 people and consists of 4 sleeping units, connected by a communal area with a kitchen. All units overview the marsh and Drakensberg mountains behind it which makes for a truly spectacular view. Photograpers will have a good time here too as the area is very suitable for making lots of photographs. This accommodation used to have a very tame Spotted-necked Otter but unfortunately this was killed accidentlyby a dog from a visitor.

Underberg - Accommodatie Penwarn Country Lodge - 2014-09-09 - 02 copy PBase

Mtini Lodge (the building with the green rooftop centre-left) from a distance. Note the spectacular view!

As if this was not enough many very good birds and mammals can be seen from the porch, the best included: Southern Bald Ibis, Long-crested Eagle, Gymnogene, Wattled Crane, Red-capped Lark, Eastern Nicator, Pale-crowned and Levaillant's Cisticola and Buffy Pipit. Much to our surprise both African Clawless Otter and Spotted-necked Otter could be seen daily from our relaxing chair!

 Francolin Hof, Hermanus

The town of Hermanus is one of the more charming we encountered in South Africa. As many whales pass by here every year Hermanus is a popular town for visitors from abroad which translates in lots of good quality accommodation. Francolin Hof is privately operated and has about 6 large rooms most of them with a view to Fernkloof nature reserve which boarders the house. Although Hermanus is not the best birdwatching spot near Cape Town a venture out in the Fernkloof can be rewarding as we found Cape batis, Karoo Prinia, Pin-tailed Whydah and Small Grey Mongoose here. It should probably be possible to find Cape Rockjumper as well if you venture out far enough into the canyon.

Hermanus - Accommodation Francolin Hof - 2014-09-12 - 03 copy PBase

Right at the foothills of the Fernkloof: Francolin Hof in Hermanus.

 Dreamhouse Guesthouse, Houtbaai

Probably the most extensive privately owned accommodation we stayed at was Dreamhouse Guest House. It consist of 4 separate buildings with several, usually two-person, rooms. Houtbaai is about 20 minutes by car from Cape Town centre, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and Table Mountain which makes it an ideal place if one wants to venture out in the area. No interesting birds were found around the accommodation.


The following accommodations were only visited during our 2005 trip. of course since then many things may have changed which might render worthless what we wrote about it. If so, please let us know and wel will adjust the text appropriately.

Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge, Louis Trichardt

As we visited South Africa for the first time in 2005 we were unsure if we could drive from Johannesburg to Punda Maria, the northernmost rest camp in Kruger National Park, in one day so we decided to stay one night at Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge. It is situated on the shores of a lake which (surprisingly) held African Finfoot. The cottages are nicely decorated in traditional African style, food is homecooked and delicious. We birded here one morning before departing to Punda Maria and found African Cuckoohawk, White-crowned Lapwing, Common Scimmitarbill and Red-collared Widowbird.

Bord Shiluvari Lakeside Lodge  - Louis Trichardt - 2005-07-15 - 01 copy

Punda Maria, Kruger National Park

Punda Maria is the northern-most rest camp inside the Kruger National Park. To our experience this part is not the best in Kruger NP for seeing mammals but it's sure worth a visit for birdwatchers. Some species occur only as far south as the Pafuri area (a picnic site near the Mozambique border) and is therefore an essential stop, escpecially in summer when these species are present. Punda Maria itself is a rather basic camp with few facilities. The cottages are rather basic but OK for a few nights stay. Best birds recorded in and around the camp were Crowned Hornbill, Shelley's Francolin, Lesser Honeyguide, Bearded Woodpecker, Retz's Helmet-Shrike, and Yellow-billed Oxpecker.

Crowned Hornbill - Krugerpark - 2005-07-16 -  03 copy PBase

Crowned Hornbill resides in Punda Maria Restcamp.

Mopani Restcamp, Kruger National Park

Mopani was one of the more recently built restcamps in the Kruger National Park. The cottage we stayed in had an excellent view over a large lake which held many birds. It was truly spectacular to hear the Hippo's arguing with each other at night while producing loud grunts. We only stayed here for one night but we'd liked to stay here a bit longer. Birds seen here included Wahlberg's Eagle, African Wood-Owl, Brown-backed Honeyguide and Mocking Cliff-Chat.

Nile Crocodile - Krugerpark - 2005-07-18 - 02 copy

Although barely visible from this picture, this Nole Crocodile tried to eat a Boa Constrictor while it was still alive!


Berg-en-Dal, Kruger National Park

Situated in the far south of the park and located in a pretty much forested area. Like some other rest camps Berg-en-Dal has it's own body of water including a dam, which you can overlook from the restaurant terrace. Again the cottages are spacious and pretty old, although not really old-fashioned. We stayed here in 2005 and had breakfast in 2015 before leaving Kruger NP. The presence of lots of tree makes Berg-en-Dal an excellent place to spend an hour or two birding. At least African Hawk-Eagle, African Green Pigeon, Southern Ground Hornbill, Brubru, Little Rush-Warbler and Red-collared Widowbird were seen within the compound or very close to it.

Ground Hornbill - Krugerpark - 2005-07-27 - 04 copy

Southern Ground Hornbill was only encountered during our 2005 trip to South Africa.

 

Ntshondwe Camp, Ithala Game Reserve

During our 2005 trip we visited Ithala Game Reserve and stayed at Ntshondwe Camp, a mutiple times award winning accommodation inside the park. It has many extremely well spaced cottages which are equipped with a large kitchen and living room. Some trails run from inside the camp which can be explored without a guide. The lodge is located up a mountain range which makes for a great view over a large area of the park. A waterhole is right in front of the restaurant area but it doesn't seem to attract many animals at night.

Birding at Ntshondwe Camp is very good, especially along one of the hiking trails which take you into areas few people visit. Birds seen included Verreaux's Eagle, Klaas's Cuckoo, African Wood-Owl, Acacia Pied Barbet, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Bennett's Woodpecker, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Bar-throated Apalis, Eastern Nicator and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting.

Uitzicht op het kamp - Ithala - 2005-07-29 - 01 copy

 Ntshondwe Camp inside Ithala Game Reserve.

Sites visited

Below all important sites we visited are described and discussed. For all sites usually only the species are mentioned that we only saw at 6 sites/occasions or less. This does not necessarily mean that those birds are among the most rare or sought-after. It just gives an impression of how commonly that species was encountered. It deals with birds and mammals and also with dragonflies we observed during our 2014 stay. If a species is a target bird we tried to give it extra attention as that particular bird may only, or most reliably, be found at that particular site. All recorded sightings can be found in the trip list and Observado.org.


Blyde River Wilderness Lodge

Hoedspruit - Landscape - 2014-08-25 - 04 copy PBase

Our stay at Blyde River Wilderness Lodge in the first days of our trip was perfect for getting used to the climate and the country. We spent lots of time on the compound and enjoyed the Hippo's in the river right in front of the cabins and restaurant. Much to our suprise an African Finfoot was regularly on the riverbanks right behind the Hippo's, alhtough it did show well we never got really good pictures of it.

African Finfoot - Hoedspruit - 2014-08-27 - 04 copy PBase

African Finfoot was found at the Blyde River Wilderness Lodge.

Many pictures were taken though, mostly of African Darter, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Bearded Scrub-Robin, Collared Sunbird and Chacma Baboon. Dragonflies were pretty abundant in the little stream down the entrance road with Red-veined Dropwing and Broad Scarlet being most common.

Red-veined Dropwing - Hoedspruit - 2014-08-25 - 01 copy PBase

Red-veined Dropwing at the entrance road to Blyde River Wilderness Lodge.

At night we drove up and down the dirtroads up to the connection with the R527. This was productive with Large-spotted Genet, Impala and Giraffe down the road and a Greater Galago opposite the restaurant.


Hoedspruit and surrounds

Around Hoedspruit many interesting birds can be seen. Most important ones to look for are Southern Bald Ibis (which we did see) and Blue Swallow. The latter does occur from october so we put in no attempt to see it. Taita Falcon is possible along the R36 near the Strydom Tunnel. During our visits it was not present though, probably because the breeding season had not yet started.

Hoedspruit - Landscape Panoramaroute - 2014-08-26 - 02 copy PBase

Three Rondavels near Hoedspruit.

The Blyde River Canyon, best viewed from some strategic stops along the Panorama Route towards Hazy View was visited. Besides the nice cultural historical stops along the route (notably the Three Rondavels, Devils Throat and Bourke's Luck Potholes) with luck some nice birds can be enjoyed too. Cape Vulture, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon, Kurrichane Thrush, Familiar Chat, Mocking Cliff-Chat, Mountain Wagtail, Retz's Helmet-Shrike, Cut-throat Finch, Bronze Mannikin, Red-backed Mannikin and Common Rock Hyrax were al seen here.

 

Kruger National Park (north to south)

Punda Maria and Pafuri

The northern part of Kruger NP is exceptionally good for watching birds. Although it holds few species that do not occur elsewhere in Africa, for some species this part of South Africa is the only place to see them as they reach their southern most distribution. Especially in summer when some breeding specialties are present the are is worth a visit. We mainly birded from the car (getting out of it is prohibited unless you are in a designated picnic area, parking lot of a hide or on a bridge) between the camp (Mahoney Loop) and the Pafuri picnic area and we also went to the far north east corner to overview both the Luvuvhu and Limpopo Rivers as well as the junction between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Lilac-breasted Roller - Krugerpark - 2014-08-29 - 01 copy

Lilac-breasted Roller is one of the most beautiful birds that occur in Kruger National Park.

Pafuri picnic place indeed was a magical place with loads of birds many of which we didn't see elsewhere, best birds included Shelley's Francolin, Shikra, Lizard Buzzard, African Hawk-Eagle, Martial Eagle, White-crowned Lapwing, Crowned Hornbill, Trumpeter Hornbill, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Lesser Honeyguide, Bearded Woodpecker, Retz's Helmet-Shrike, Tropical Boubou, Brubru, Square-tailed Drongo, Rock Martin, Mosque Swallow, Grey-backed Camaroptera, Terrestrial Brownbul, Meves's Starling, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Ashy Flycatcher, Greater Double-collared Sunbird and White-winged Widowbird. Mammals included Klipspringer, Steenbok and Sharpe's Grysbok.

Satara area

The area around Satara is well-know for a high density of mammals generally and specifically felines. During both trips Satara lived up to it's reputation. The best areas turned to be east of Satara, towards Sweni Hide and Satara-Orpen Road to the west. We found a Porcupine early in the morning in broad daylight which was an excellent start of the day. Soon we found two Lioness which did nothing but sleeping, although half of our party saw them chasing an Impala before the others got to the place. The best find of the day however was a group of three Cheetah, not far from Sweni hide!! While we tried to rush to Satara camp before dark two separate groups of Spotted Hyena were seen, including 5 cubs. We would be able to take great pictures of them the next day.

Spotted Hyena - Krugerpark - 2014-08-29 - 29 copy PBase

Playful Spotted Hyena east of Satara Rest Camp.

Birdwise Satara was OK but not spectacular although a Yellow-throated Longclaw north of the camp was a great bonus. Other birds seen in the area: African Openbill, Sadle-billed Stork, Woolly-necked Stork, Wahlberg's Eagle, Common Ostrich, Red-crested Korhaan, Temminck's Courser (2005), Black Crake, Kori Bustard, Double-banded Sandgrouse, African Green Pigeon, Green Wood-hoopoe, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike and Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver. During our stay in 2005 we saw maybe the best mammal we've seen in South Africa: a Brown Hyena on the Orpen-Satara Road. Although it was quite distant we did see it well before it disappeared from view, leaving us breathless.

Cheetah marking its territory.

Male Cheetah marking its territory.

A night drive from Satara produced very few birds but a Verreaux's Eagle-Owl in 2014 was as nice as a Southern White-faced Owl in 2005. We did see some good mammals though including South African Galago, Black-backed Jackal, African Civet, Large-spotted Genet, Serval, Side-striped Jackal (both 2005), African Elephant, Dwarf Mongoose (2005) and White Rhinoceros,


Skukuza area

As already mentioned in the accommodations section in this report Skukuza is the largest camp inside the Kruger National Park. The best attraction around Skukuza is the road towards Lower Sabie Restcamp. This road goes along the Sabie River and especially the Lower Sabie end is very good for mammal watching. In the lakes near Lower Sabie Hippos are abundant.

Double-banded Sandgrouse - Krugerpark - 2005-07-20 -  04 copy PBase

Careful inspection of Elephant excrements might reveal Double-banded Sandgrouse as they like to fourage on them.

As this track is very popular you will usually encounter lots of other traffic, especally when a good sighting is ahead. It so happened that we got into a huge traffic jam due to a pack of six Lion right next to the road. While waiting for the trafficjam to dissolve we spotted a Leopard in a dry river bed below the bridge we were waiting on. Very nice!! Birding along this road was not very rewarding although we saw some nice birds: Striated Heron, White-headed- and Hooded Vulture, Martial Eagle, Red-crested Korhaan, White-crowned Lapwing, Double-banded Sandgrouse, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Bennett's- and Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Rufous-naped- and Pink-billed Lark, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Grey Penduline Tit, Croaking- and Rattling Cisticola, Grey-Tit-Flycatcher, African Yellow White-eye, Bushveld Pipit, Black-crowned Tchagra, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Yellow-crowned Bishop, Green-winged Pytilia and Brimstone- and Yellow Canary.

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Martial Eagle scanning for fresh prey.

During our stay in Skukuza we also booked a night drive as well as an evening drive. Especially the evening drive was extremely succesful and started off with a group of Impala that were mobbed by a pack of Wild Dogs. Although the dogs came within hearing distance of the vehicle they could not be seen which was very unsatisfactory. As if this was not enough lots of other very good species were seen: South African Galago, Cape Porcupine, Common Genet, African Civet, African Wild Cat, Leopard (with a fresh Impala kill), Bushbuck and Steenbuck. The big final however was an Aardvark very close to the vehicle!


Berg-en-Dal area (2005 only)

We only stayed at Berg-en-Dal restcamp 2005 and we enjoyed it very much. We were quite lucky to see a lot of mammals during our nightdrive. Most exciting ones were Spotted Hyena, Leopard, Lion, African Civet, Meller's Mongoose, White-tailed Mongoose and Serval as well as Verreaux's- and Spotted Eagle-Owls. Especially the latter seemed more common in 2005 when we saw several and none in 2014.

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Among other places we found Red-capped Robin-chat around Berg-en-Dal restcamp.

The birds were abundant as well, we did not write down specifically which place we went but the best birds seen around Berg-en-Dal included White-faced Whistling-Duck, Afican Black Duck, Shikra, African Hawk-Eagle, Martial Eagle, African Rail, Bronze-winged Courser, African Green Pigeon, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Southern Ground-Hornbill, Grey-headed Bush-Shrike, Brubru, Wire-tailed Swallow, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Mosque Swallow, Little Rush-Warbler, Red-capped Robin-chat, Thick-billed Weaver and Mountain Wagtail.

From the restaurant inside the camp itself a dam can be overseen where seeing White-backed Night-Heron is possible. The camp itself holds African Paradise-Flycatcher and the palm trees along the entrance provide a sleeping place for Red-billed Oxpeckers.

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At night Red-billed Oxpecker roosts in the palms at Berg-en-Dal restcamp.

We also visited the camp briefly in 2014 to have breakfast before leaving the Kruger National Park. Much to our surprise two Cheetah (announced by others as "a Leopard") were not too distant from the entrance road but too obscured to view well.

 

Wakkerstroom

Around Wakkerstroom we birded one full day with our excellent guide Lucky. We saw many very good birds but also missed out on some specialties (Red-winged Francolin, Ground Woodpecker, Bush Blackcap, Eastern Long-billed- and Botha's Lark) or found them only after lots of effort (Rudd's Lark, Yellow-breasted Pipit), notably larks were notoriously difficult.

Many of the places we visited are described very well in the Southern African Birdfinder. Among others we visited Volksrust (site A) for Denham's Bustard, White-bellied Korhaan, Blue Crane, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Buffy Pipit and Cape Longclaw; Wydgelegen (site D) for Grey-winged Francolin, Buff-streaked Chat, Capped Wheatear and larks (which we didn't find); Fickland Pan (site E) for Rudd's Lark and Yellow-breasted Pipit; Site "F" and "J" for Sentinel Rock-Thush and Mountain Wheatear.

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One of the Wakkerstroom highland specialties: Buff-streaked Chat.

As already explained in the "Guides in South African" section in this report Lucky is a very knowlegdable guide who always continues to try and find the birds still missing. He mentioned a few times that it was difficult to find some otherwise abundant lark species (most imprtant Botha's and Eastern Long-billed Lark) due to a long period of drought but nevertheless he kept trying all day to find them.

 

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Levaillant's Cisticola: one of the easiest cisticola species to identify.

Birding Wakkerstroom with Lucky was extremely rewarding and besides the species mentioned before we found Great Crested Grebe (very local in South Africa), African Black Duck, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Grey Crowned Crane, Secretarybird, Black-winged Lapwing, African Wattled Lapwing, Red-throated Wryneck, Spike-heeled Lark, African Cliff-Swallow, Cape Rock-Thrush, Levaillant's Cisticola, Long-billed Pipit, Bokmakierie, Pied Starling, Southern Red Bishop, Long-tailed Widowbird, African Quail-Finch and Black-throated Canary. Interesting mammals around Wakkerstroom included Eland, Sprinkbuck, Common Rock Hyrax, Bontebok, Black Wildebeast and Meerkat.

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Wakkerstroom Wetlands are full of birds. One of the bird hides can be seen in the background.

 

The next day we explored some of the sites visited with Lucky as well as the Wakkerstroom Wetlands (site "L" and "M"), the latter which offers two or three good birdhides from which overseeing the wetlands is very convenient. From the hides Squacco Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Glossy Ibis, Southern Pochard, Cape Shoveler, Red-knobbed Coot, African Marsh Harrier, African Swamp-Hen, African Rail, African Snipe, Malachite Kingfisher, White-throated Swallow, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Neddicky, Levaillant's Cisticola and Long-tailed Widowbird were seen. A revisit to sites "A", "F"and "J" added Cape Clapper Lark, Southern Ant-eating Chat, Drakensberg Prinia, African Pipit to the already impressive Wakkerstroom list. A visit to Zaaihoekdam (site "N") should have produced Ground Woodpecker but we failed to find it there.

Mhkuze Game Reserve

Mhkuze is one of those famous places in South Africa for both mammal and birdwatching. It's a fairly small reserve and boasts just under ten hides, some of which were not in the best shape anymore as the ponds they overlooked were either dry or overgrown with reed and plants. The best hides to visit were the ones overlooking Nsumo Pan and Kumasinga Hide. Probably this will vary by season and it may be best to inquire at the reception or just to try them all. Unfortunately many unsealed roads in Mkuze Game Reserve were in a rather poor state making it difficult to navigate them with a saloon car. Renting a 4x4 should solve this problem but this is much more expensive.

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Nsumo Pan seen from one of the hides overlooking it. Relativerly few birds were seen here but in 2005 it was really packed.

While driving through the reserve we were struck by the vast areas that were burnt down recently. Although we understood that this happened unintentionally it caused a big effect on the mammals we encountered. While the park is well-known for a healthy population of Leopard, Wild Dog and some Cheetah we encountered no fellow visitors who saw either one of those species, nor did we see them ourselves. Maybe this meant that we were just unlucky or maybe the fires had something to do with it: we'll never know.

Birdwise Mhkuze was verry good (but better in 2005) although African Broadbill (which we also didn't see in 2005) managed to hide from us again. A morning walk into the Fig Forest was very good with many good species: Woolly-necked Stork, African Crowned Eagle, Cape Vulture, Lizard Buzzard, Crested Guineafowl, Tambourine Dove, Horus Swift, Narina Trogon, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, White-eared Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Eastern Nicator, Spotted Ground-Thrush, Rudd's Apalis, Southern Black Flycatcher, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Yellow-throated Petronia and Thick-billed Weaver. Best of all though was a Pel's Fishing-Owl that was present since fairly recent and gave us the best thrill of the trip. This was our bogey bird since our trip to Botswana in 2007 and we celebrated seeing it abundantly!

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White Rhinoceros can be seen from Kumasinga hide just as anywhere in the Mhkuze Game Reserve.

Our visits to Nsumo Pan in 2005 were notably better than during our visit in 2014. Large groups of waterfowl were completed with lots of herons and waders. From the hides we found Comb Duck, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Shoveler, Red-billed Teal, Hottentot Teal, African Openbill, African Spoonbill, Pink-backed Pelican, African Cuckoo-Hawk, Kittlitz's Plover, Greater Painted Snipe, Marsh Sandpiper, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Black Saw-wing, Grey-rumped Swallow, Bar-throated- and Rudd's Apalis, Black-bellied Starling, Grey Sunbird, Dark-backed Weaver and Cape Wagtail.

Birding aruond Mantuma Camp is equally rewarding. A hide including water supply near the reception is small but fun to stay at for an hour or so. During both visits in 2014 a Green Twinspot was visiting briefly, as well as White-eared Barbet, Golden-breasted Bunting and other more common birds. In 2005 the camp itself had water taps that were spilling water making it an ideal stop for many songbirds (Purple-crested Lourie, White-eared- and Black-collared Barbet, Yellow-rumped- and Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Common Bulbul, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Red-billed Fire-Finch and Pink-throated Twinspot) and even Impala and Greater Kudu.

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Red-fronted Tinkerbird at Mantuma Camp inside Mhkuze Game Reserve.

Finally we attended a night drive in Mhkuze Game Reserve. Like during the day the number of mammals was low but we found rare Black Rhino, Suni Duiker and Greater Galago. We even found some birds during this excursion of which Black-bellied Bustard, Senegal Lapwing, Western Barn-Owl and Fiery-necked Nightjar were the most interesting.


St. Lucia

This little town in the heart of the iSimangaliso Wetland park is a popular tourist destination because of the large Hippopotamus population of which some roam the town streets at night. It took us some effort to find them but in the last night of our stay at the Elephant Guesthouse we finally witnessed two walking around the garden together with a Large-spotted Genet. The Igwalagwala trail is a short but good track to explore if your time is limited, during two visits we found Green Malkoa, White-eared Barbet, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Grey-rumped Swallow, Red-faced Mousebird, Square-tailed Drongo, Red-capped Robin-chat, Brown Scrub-Robin, White-starred Robin, Victorin's Warbler, Rufous-winged Cisticola, Grey Tit, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike, Olive Bush-Shrike, Thick-billed Weaver, Holub's Golden Weaver and Southern Brown-throated Weaver.

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White-fronted Plover.

The beach acces including boardwalk is busy but from some places it is possible to overlook some small tidal pools and beaches that held some waterbirds including Pink-backed Pelican, Purple Heron, Woolly-necked Stork, Western Osprey, African Marsh Harrier, African Black Oystercatcher, White-fronted Plover, Sanderling, Curlew Sandpiper, Whimbrel and Water Thick-knee.

Another fine birding destination is Cape Vidal National Park. Some mammals (White Rhinoceros, Impala, Zebra, Nyala and Greater Kudu) are introduced here and can usually be found without effort. Driving all the way up to the northern end of the road a few loop roads are encounterd which all loop back towards the main road. Sadly the main loop road towards the end was closed due to forest fires. Nevertheless the birding here was nice although we started off rather late. Purple Heron, Squacco Heron, White-faced Whistling Duck, Black Crake and Allen's Gallinule were found from a small hide at the beginning of the road. Further on Cape Vulture, African Crowned Eagle,Crowned Hornbill, White-eared Barbet, Red-breasted Swallow, Red-capped Robin-Chat, Brown Scrub-Robin, Croaking Cisticola, Cape Longclaw, Rosy-throated Longclaw, Olive Bush-Shrike, Grey Sunbird and Thick-billed Weaver were seen.

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Very confiding Brown Scrub-Robin in the gardens of the Elephantcoast Guesthouse.

Cape Vidal also stars the rare and localised Samango Monkey which should be common around the northern end of the Cape Vidal road. Unfortunately we did not see it.

Mtunzini

On our way from St Lucia to Underberg we passed the small town of Mtunzini which is well-known for its stable population of Palm-nut Vultures. We decided to try a hit and run for this species. As you leave highway 2 the first palmgroves appear immediately on both sides of the road. We did however drive straight to the two best spots mentioned in the Southern African Birdfinder: the Raphia Palm Monument and Palm-nut Vulture forest strip (Hutchinson Street). Without succes we looked for the vultures and decided to continue our journey to Underberg. However, just before reaching the highway again one of us found one Palm-nut Vulture on top of a Raphia Palm on the left hand side of the road (right hand coming from the highway, A quick look through the telescope, some high fives and hugs for the person who found them, and off we went again!


Underberg (Penwarn/Mtini Lodge)

As outlined before in the "Accommodations" section of this report the Penwarn Country Lodge in Underberg is an excellent spot for birdwacthing. The compound includes pastures were Springbok, Bontebok and Black Wildebeast graze, a marsh filled with birds (and at least two otter families!) and farmland. Dirt tracks cross all of the compound and make it easy to drive or walk around. In fact, we never left the accommodation except for the day tour to Sanipass.

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Wattled Cranes in the Penwarn Lodge marsh.

Upon arrival we immediately found two Wattled Cranes feeding alongside the road towards the lodge. Later we would find them close to the main building as well. Many waterbirds are found in the marsh including Woolly-necked Stork, South African Shelduck, Southern Pochard, African Marsh Harrier, Grey Crowned Crane (a group of up to 180 spent the night at the marsh), Little Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, White-throated Swallow, Brown-throated Martin, Southern Boubou and Red-billed Quelea.

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African Stonechat at Penwarn Farmlodge.

Despite the well known story of the tame Spotted-necked Otter that starred this accommodation it was a big surprise to find a family group of both Spotted-necked- and African Clawless Otter in the marsh as well!

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Probably the best treat at Penwarn/Mtini Lodge: a family of playfull Spotted-necked Otters!

The pastures and farmland featured Southern Bald Ibis, Cape Vulture, Long-crested Eagle, Gymnogene, Rock Kestrel, White-necked Raven, Southern Ant-eating Chat, Pale-crowned- and Levaillant's Cisticola, African- and Buffy Pipit, Cape Longclaw, Great Sparrow, Yellow-crowned Bishop and Long-tailed Widowbird.

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Southern Bald Ibis at Penwarn Farm Lodge.

 

Drakensbergen Sani Pass/Lesotho

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A winding road full of hairpins has to be crossed before reaching the pinnacle of Sanipass.

On september 10th we booked two guides to accompany us up to the Sanipass which holds many mouth watering species. We were guided by Stewart McLean and Malcolm Gemell (see the "Guides" section above in this report) which were both very skilled and fun to hang out with. Both continued to search for the best species on offer. Even for anyone not interested in birds the trip is worth it as the views are spectacular to say the least. The track up to the Lesotho border post is rocky and very steep at times with many hairpins before reaching the top. After crossing the Lesotho border the road changes as major construction is done by Chinese workers. As it seems this road will become way oversized as not much traffic passes it every day.

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Cape Rock-Thush at home near the old South African border Post.

The first stop as we departed from the village of Himeville was at a water bassin were we found Cape Shoveler and Grey Crowned Crane, among others. As we continued to the old border post (a collection of derelict buildings) a stop was made and found Cape Rock-Thrush, Buff-streaked Chat, Cape Grassbird, Wailing- and Levaillant's Cisticola, Drakensberg- and Karoo Prinia, Bokmakierie, Streaky-headed Seed-eater and Great Sparrow.

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Grey-crowned Crane outside Himeville.

As we continued more species were added to the totals including Red-throated Wryneck, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Lammergeier, Lanner Falcon, Grey-winged Francolin, White-necked Raven, Layard's Warbler, the first Fairy Flycatcher of the season, Swee Waxbill and Greater Double Collared Sunbird.

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Greater Double-collared Sunbird at Sani Pass.

A few kilometers before reaching the Lesotho border post the road gets steaper and more and more hairpins are encountered, this would be the perfect place to start looking for Drakensberg Rock-Jumper, Sentinel Rock-Thrush and Ground Woodpecker, although for the latter the Lesotho side of the Sanipass is much better.

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Drakensberg Rock-jumper was probably the most wanted bird during this trip. It's more common at the Lesotho side of Sani Pass.

Upon entering Lesotho the road becomes less steap and is dominated by the road construction, according Stewart this has ruined many Ground Woodpecker nests although we did find around 10 of them. The area right behind the border post hosts Large-billed- and Red-capped Lark, Drakensberg Siskin, Sentinel Rock-Thrush and Sickle-winged Chat. As we continued for about 10 kilomters additionally we found Grey Tit, Cape Rock-Thrush, Karoo Prinia and Cape Bunting.

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Male Drakensberg Siskin right behind the Lesotho border post.

Mammals are to be looked out for as well as the rare Grey Rhebok and Mountain Reedbuck can reliably found here. Scanning for birds at various points also revealed Common Rock Hyrax, Eland and Southern Reedbuck. At the lesotho side Sloggett's Vlei Rat (locally known as Ice-rat) is very common but pretty shy.

Hermanus

Although the town and surroundings of Hermanus is anything but a birdwatchers paradise it might be worth thinking of a visit, if only for the whales that pass by twice ech year. Hermanus makes whale watching easy for the average tourist by appointing a whale crier who announces whale sightings from within the town centre. Although this is nice for "normal people" any birdwatcher should have no problems finding lots of whales (given your visit is in the right season) scanning the ocean for a minute or two. Despite this the Fernkloof Nature Reserve that is directly norht of town makes a stay at Hermanus bearable. We strolled around the footpaths behind the Francolin Hof and also the one that starts at the 1st Avenue/Reservoir Road junction.

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Southern Right Whale getting some tan on it's belly :-)

We did some early morning and late afternoon birding which included Cape Francolin, Horus Swift, Greater Striped Swallow, House Crow, White-necked Raven, Cape Grassbird, Karoo Prinia, Cape Batis, Cape Sugarbird, Pin-tailed Whydah and Cape Siskin. Everytime we scanned the ocean we found one to over ten Southern Right Whales. We figured it should be possible to see Cape Rockjumper here as well.

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Cape Batis at Fernkloof Nature Reserve.

As mammals have our interest as well (as could be noticed from this report by the keen reader) we decided to add some thrill to the trip and do a cage dive session with Great White Sharks. our dived were very succeful with 7 different sharks seen including one very "triggerhapy" young male which kept attacking the fake seal. During the cage diving we kept one eye out to the sea for a lingering albatross or so we found White-chinned Petrel, Cape Gannet, African Black Oystercatcher and more Southern Right Whales from the boat.

Betty's Bay

For anyone wanting to see African Penguin without having to put up with big crowds (like the Boulder's Beach colony near Cape Town) Betty's Bay is the place to go. The reserve is signposted from anywhere in the town and should be easy to find. After paying a small access fee a short boardwalk goes right through the penguin colony eventually ending at a vantage point from which a cormorant colony is overlooked. It includes Bank-, Cape- and Crowned Cormorant as well as African Black Oystercatcher, Rock Kestrel and Hartlaub's Gull.

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The African Penguin Colony at Betty's Bay is a nice and quiet one, especially compared to the colony at Boulder's Beach.

Rooi Els

Although we did not see the main target bird at Rooi Els it certainly deserves a mention in this report as we know other birders managed to see Cape Rockjumper here shortly after our (very) brief visit. Porter Drive is a privately owned and closed road from which a very good rocky slope can be scanned from close by. Unlike Sir Lowry's Pass close to Cape Town this spot does not require a strenuous stroll over steep hills and may therefore be the best place to search for this enigmatic species for anyone with limited time. Although the road is closed by a fence, signs indicate that birdwatchers are welcome to have a shot at the rockjumper.Rooi Els - Informatiebord - 2014-09-14 - 02 copy PBase copy

Porter Drive in Rooi Els is fenced off as it is privately owned. Despite this, signs indicate the area is freely accessible for birders.

Although we managed to find Cape Rock-Thrush, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted- and Amethyst Sunbird no Cape Rockjumpers were found. We did schedule a second visit to Rooi but this was canceled by the wheather and violent riots along highway 2 due to which the highway was closed.

Table Mountain

A condisderable amount of time Table Mountain is covered in fog formed by humid air rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean. If, during any time of your stay in Cape Town, the skies have cleared make sure to head up straight away. Like Hermanus Table Mountain has nothing that a birder could not see elsewhere. We mention this site for the sake of completeness with only a brief mention of the few species we saw here: Rock Kestrel, Sentinel Rock-Thrush, Familiar Chat, Orange-breasted Sunbird (which were actually very tame here) Cape Canary and Cape Siskin.

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Cape canary

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

According to the Southern African Birdfinder a visit to nearby Constantia Greenbelts should produce a lot more good birds. We decided not to visit that spot as most of them would not have returned during our visit. Instead we opted for the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens which are much more accessible and offer very nice photographic opportunities. Due to it's vast size (over 500 hectares) it would be impossible to visit each and every spot even during many visits. Well accessible tracks make it possible to explore lots of nice spots.

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One very common and noisy inhabitant of Kirstenbosch Botanial Gardens: Karoo Prinia.

The gardens hold many idigenous and introduced plants which attract many birds, some of which are interesting including Forest Buzzard, Great Sparrowhawk, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Cape Francolin, Cape Grassbird, Karoo Prinia, Malachite- and Amethyst Sunbirds and Swee Waxbill. The gardens are also known for a pair of Spotted Eagle-Owl which are an attraction for any visitor. Most of the staff will be able to tell you were they breed and a sign indicates that as well. As well as the species mentioned previously mentioned species Lammer Geier and Verreaux Eagle could be able to put in an appearance as well.

Although we did expect a lot from the recently opened "Boomslang Treetop Walk" it dissappointed us a little in terms of the birds we saw there.

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An attraction to any visitor the park is the pair of Cape Eagle Owl.