Finding South Africa's endemics
A report by Keith Taylor (Keiths Home Page)
Southern Africa embraces a tremendous range
of habitats, home to one of the greatest bird diversities in the world - over
900 species occur of which 133 are endemic or near-endemic. Lying within the
southern boundaries of Southern Africa is the extraordinary country of South
Africa that harbours 700 of these species and a great majority of the endemics.
However, only 27 are truly endemic within the borders of South Africa. This
three-week itinerary is designed to see all of the Southern African endemics
occurring in South Africa while surveying the country's unparalleled and breathtaking
scenery. To locate all of this wonderful region's endemics you should be prepared
for the extensive distances driven between birding sites. However, the quiet,
rural atmosphere throughout South Africa offers an exciting and very comfortable
birding experience. Walking is usually effortless on the easy terrain. Along
the route you will see many magnificent and abundant mammals as well with such
exciting species as Chacma Baboon, Vervet Monkey. Burchell's Zebra, White Rhinoceros,
Hippopotamus, Common Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, the endemic Nyala, Red and Grey
Duikers, and Impala.
Many will be surprised to
find a superb infrastructure similar to that found in Europe and North America
with remarkably good roads, luxurious accommodations (all of which have pools
and air-conditioning in hot areas), excellent food and wine, and tape-water that
you can safely drink. Most South Africans speak English.
The climate is variable
throughout South Africa with half of the route cooler than most visitors would
expect. High temperatures ~seldom reach over 80-850F ill the interior
where hot, dry and sunny days are the norm. Coastal Natal will be frequently
overcast with some rain and you may experience high humidity and possibly higher
temperatures. In the Cape region, in the Drakensberg mountains, and around
Volksrust conditions range from pleasantly warm through cool, or even cold (as
dawn can be in the interior); overcast days are interspersed with sunshine and
it may rain. October is the best month to visit
This itinerary has been
designed for comfort - and as outlined - 24 days will cost a couple from the USA
or Canada about $7, 800 US or around $7,150 US from Great Britain. At the end of
your trip you should have tallied a list of just under 500 species. However,
following this itinerary will leave you with little time to relax as you will
need to move along at a hurried pace. For those who can stay an extra week or
two, I highly recommend you do so. An extra week would add fifty species to your
list. You will need a current passport (good for six months from departure).
footwear suitable for muddy trails, wet-weather gear, clothes for cool weather,
as well as light clothing and footwear suitable for dry deserts and a tropical
climate. No inoculations are required but a Hepatitis A shot is advised.
Although anti-malarial prevention will be advised from your health center.
malaria has been virtually non-existent even at SL Lucia and Mkuze in recent
years. During my October visit I did not see a single mosquito. Infectious-ticks
can be troublesome in KwaZulu-Natal. Stay on paths, but if you need to leave
them, check yourself over and remove any immediately.
Reference ,Material: Birds
of Southern Africa by Sinclair, Hockey & Tarboton: Southern, Central &
East Africa Mammals:
A Photographic Guide,
Names in the itinerary follow
those in Birds of Southern Africa by Sinclair Hockey and Tarboton.
Agreeing with many authorities these common names have been hyphenated, while
additional names may accompany others (example: Pied Avocet and Common Ringed
Plover). However, in disagreement, lower cases have not been used for the family
name when several species are listed in tandem (example: Grey, Olive &
Scarlet-chested Sunbirds). Greywing and Redwing Francolins have been changed to
Grey-winged and Red-winged Francolins. With certain species I have added
(African) to avoid confusion with similarly named species found elsewhere
(example: (African) Rock Pipit). Even with these changes, the names in the
itinerary will he recognizable with those in the field guide. See the Addendum
for notes on the taxonomic status of certain South African species.
The numbers in brackets ()
that introduce many paragraphs refer to the sites position on the accompanying
The short-lists of species
that accompany each site are those that should be found in the time allowed to
follow the itinerary. Those with more time will produce a longer list. Complete
checklists of the bird species occurring at National Parks, Game Parks and
Nature Reserves can be obtained in many cases at their gates or offices. The
Marine Protea Hotel has a free checklist of the birds of Lambert's Bay available
at their desk and the Ingeli Forest Lodge has a free checklist of the birds of
Weza-Ngele forest. Other complete checklists can be found in Birding in
Southern KwaZulu-Natal. Species that are recorded daily in their proper
habitats or species that are highly conspicuous on the roadside during drives
are seldom mentioned in the itinerary lists. These species are listed below:
|Ostrich||Dabchick||White-breasted Cormorant||Reed Cormorant|
|Grey Heron||Black-headed Heron||Cattle Egret||Hadeda Ibis|
|Sacred Ibis||Egyptian Goose||Yellow-billed Duck||Spur-winged Goose|
|Yellow-billed Kite||Black-shouldered Kite||Jackal Buzzard||Rock Kestrel|
|Helmeted Guineafowl||Red-knobbed Coot||Three-banded Plover||Blacksmith Plover|
|Feral Pigeon||Rock Pigeon||Red-eyed Dove||Cape Turtle-Dove|
|Laughing Dove||Red-chested Cuckoo||Little Swift||Alpine Swift|
|European Swallow||White-throated Swallow||Greater Striped Swallow||Rock Martin|
|Brown-throated Martin||Fork-tailed Drongo||Pied Crow||Black-eyed Bulbul|
|Sombre Bulbul||Southern Olive Thrush||Southern Anteating Chat||Cape Wagtail|
|Grassveld Pipit||Fiscal Shrike||Southern Boubou||Bokmakierie|
|European Starling||Pied Starling||Red-winged Starling||Cape White-eye|
|House Sparrow||Cape Sparrow|
This itinerary is to be used along with the excellent birdfinding guides available for South Africa. It is highly recommended that you purchase the regional birdfinding guides listed below before visiting South Africa. The advantage of this itinerary is that it outlines a simple route to observe all of the ~endemics, eliminating sites which do not produce additional species. Unlike local birdfinding guides, this paper contains a wealth of logistical information which is required for tourists to comfortably bird these sites with precise directions, maps, accommodations, air services, boat charters for pelagic trips, books, car rental and the logistics for gaining access to Sani Pass.
Birding in Southern
KwaZulu-Natal by David Allan; 1998, 52 full-colour pages.
This book outlines the
species found in nine nature reserves but seldom gives precise directions for
particular species. Excellent Regional checklist and colour photographs.
Available at the front desk at Ingeli Forest Lodge for $4.00 US.
Top Birding Spots in
Southern Africa by Hugh Chittenden;
1993, 421 pages covering 127 sites. Distributed worldwide by bookstores that
specialize in selling bird books.
Birds of the Southwestern
Cape and Where to Watch Them by Wally
Petersen and Mel Tripp; 1995.
Available at the gift shop at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Published by the Southern African Ornithological Society and the Cape Bird Club. Excellent directions for sites and specific species in the Cape.
An interesting packet of free
information including the 256 page travel guide - South Africa: a
world in one country - and the 160 page - South Africa Accommodation
Guide - can be obtained by writing the South African Tourism Board (Satour) in your country.
5-6 Alt Grove, Wimbleldon, London, 5W19 41)7
tel: (0181) 944 8080
Suite 2040, 500 Fifth Avenue (20th Floor). New York, NY 10110
tel: (212) 730-2929
These full-colour guides have
regional maps, detailed airport maps, breathtaking photographs and information
on many accommodations (with photographs of the establishments) all without
buying the popular guides available at bookstores.
Wakkerstroom Bird &
Nature Guide by Warwick &
Michele Tarboton; write Box 289, 2480 Wakkerstroom, Mpumalanga, South Africa
Gibbons; 1991; 6 cassettes of all species $79~95 US
Day 1-2 MAP 2
Overnight flights to London,
leaving from North America, will arrive the afternoon of Day 2. After clearing
Customs, you will shuttle to the Ibis Heathrow for a required afternoon sleep.
The South African Airways overnight flight to Johannesburg leave Heathrow
at 10 pm.
at the Ibis Heathrow
Johannesburg-Kimberley MAP 3
(1.) The overnight flight from London arrives at Johannesburg
at 9:20 am. After clearing Customs most birders will fly to Kimberley the
same morning that they land at Johannesburg (from their respective countries)
for a one-night stay. Flights leave for Kimberley at 11:30 am and one-way fares
are $90.00 US. After the exhausting flights you should check into your rooms for
a much needed rest, birding Kamfersdam in the afternoon.
After picking up your rental
car drive 8 km north into Kimberley. Once in Kimberley you will come to a
round-about at the Honoured Dead Memorial. Keep left around the monument and
proceed straight ahead along Memorial Street to Do Toitspan Road, timing left
(0.7 km). Proceed along Du Toitspan past Lennox-Regiment Way (highway 64), then
left staying on Do Toitspan after driving a further 0.8 km. You will find the
Diamond Protea Lodge on your left after driving a further 0.4 km (124 Do
(2.) From the Diamond Protea
turn left along Do Toitspan Road which becomes New Main Road. After driving 0.3
km, turn right (northwest) onto Bultfontein Road (highway 12). Proceed 0.2 km
and park. The best time to visit the "Big Hole" is at sunset when
there is still adequate light to discern colour. Search among the smaller Little
& White-romped Swifts and larger Alpine Swifts for one that is mid-sized
without any white in the plumage. This swift will he mottled on the underparts -
the target species here -Bradfield's Swift. Although in small numbers one or two
will be seen well.
(3.) In the late afternoon take a short drive to Kamfersdam. Here you will be introduced to a variety of widespread African waterbirds along the shores of this large reservoir.Continue northwest along highway 12 from the "Big Hole" for (0.7 km) where highway 12 swings right. Keep straight-ahead on Pniel Road (highway 72) for approximately 3-4 kms where you will see a large lake on the right. Look for a small dirt road (the first one) and turn right. The road passes under a railway line at a culvert-like underpass lined with South African Cliff Swallow nests. Drive under and park, or drive the road which rims the western shoreline. Thousands of both Greater & Lesser Flamingoes are the main attraction with Little Egret, Grey Heron, African Spoonbill, Glossy & Sacred Ibises, Egyptian Goose, South African Shelduck, White-faced Duck, Cape Teal, Cape Shoveler, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Crowned, Blacksmith, Common Ringed & Three-handed Plovers, Little Stint, Common, Curlew, Wood & Marsh Sandpipers and Whiskered & White-winged Terns. Levaillant's Cisticola, Rufous-eared Warbler and Black-chested Prinia frequent the lakeside shrubs. Bird Kamfersdam, then visit the Big Hole at dusk before returning to the Diamond Protea for the night.
Afternoon & night at the Diamond Protea Lodge, Kimberley
Kimberley to Augrabies Falls
Vaalbos National Park
(4.) Your first destination, close to Kimberly, is Vaalbos National Park where the target species is the highly localized Short-clawed Lark. At the gate at dawn, begin birding the Kalahari thornveld, Karoo and grassland habitats within the park. Karoo is a desert community restricted to South Africa south of the Kalahari Desert. Karoo is characterized by a great number of succulents, although this habitat will remind birders of the saltbrush scrub found in the southwestern deserts of the USA. This is a land of low rainfall which leads to many bird species being nomadic. Continue northwest along highway 72 to the highway 31 junction which is 8 kms from Kimberley. Turn right towards Barkly West which is thirty-two kilometers away. [The recently described Long-tailed Pipit occurs around Kimberley during the austral winter and should still be present in early October; scan any green fields en rout~. Proceed through Barkly West along highway 31 and continue another 20 kms (52 kms from Kimberley), turning left at the park sign. The road is unpaved into and through the park but is well-maintained gravel. Drive 6 kms to the gate which is open from sunrise to sunset. The river just before the gate has Little Egret, Hamerkop, African Fish Eagle, Giant & Pied Kingfishers, European Bee-eater and Brown-throated Martin. Pay the nominal fee scanning the surrounding brush for Greater Striped Swallow, Familiar Chat, Tit-Babbler, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Pint Batis, Fiscal & Chat Flycatchers, Black-chested Prinia, Scaly-feathered Finch, Violet-eared & Black-cheeked Waxbills and Black-throated & Yellow Canaries. The 34 km-long loop road begins and ends at the gate. Visitors are only allowed out of their vehicles at the designated picnic areas (2 and 17 kms from the gate) as rhinoceros and Cape Buffalo roam freely within the park. The park's varied habitats, marred by several dry riverbeds, are satiated in birds with Ostrich, Secretarybird, White-backed Vulture, Tawny & Martial Eagles, African Fish Eagle, Crowned Plover, Orange River & Swainson's Francolins, Northern Black & Red-crested Korhaans, Kori Bustard, Cape Turtle-, Laughing & Namaqua Doves, White-rumped Swift, White-backed & Red-faced Mousebirds, Swallow tailed Bee-eater, (African) Hoopoe, Greater Scimitarbill, Acacia Pied Barbet, Rufous-naped & Clapper Larks, Fork-tailed Drongo, Karoo Robin, Red-eyed Bulbul, Short-toed Rock Thrush, Desert Cisticola, Marico Flycatcher, Grassveld Pipit, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Three-streaked Tchagra, Glossy Starling, Dusky Sunbird Grey-headed Sparrow, Melba & Scaly-feathered Finches, Cape Sparrow, Southern Masked Weaver and Common Waxbill.
(5.) Block Dam picnic site is
17 kms from the Vaalbos National Park gate, "the" site for the local,
uncommon and endemic Short-clawed Lark. Visitors may be surprised to find clean
flushing toilets and potable tape water in the washrooms. Several Fawn-coloured
& Spike-heeled Larks will be flushed before the target species is found. Try
anywhere in the vicinity, especially uphill around the water tank. Several
confusing species of pipit will be seen that will require close study. Both
Buffy & Plain-backed Pipits occur as well as the distinctive Grassveld with
its white outer-tail feathers. The Buffy Pipit can he identified via its
habit of tail wagging. In the vicinity are White-throated & Pearl-breasted
Swallows, Kalahari Robin, Brubru and Golden-breasted Bunting.
(6.) After a morning of
birding Vaalbos it will be time to leave Kimberley. From the Diamond Protea
drive west (left) along Du Toitspan and New Main Roads to Bultfontein (highway
12) and turn left. Drive 3.5 kms to Long Lennox (highway 64), turning right. The
drive from Kimberley to Upington is an exhausting 413 kms with little time to
bird. Those driving directly to magnificent Augrabies Falls National Park
(recommended) have a 533-kilometer (7 hrs) drive. There will be several
opportunities en route to look for dry country birds along the highway as the
landscape becomes ever more arid. Pale Chanting-Goshawk, Namaqua Sandgrouse,
Southern Anteating & Mountain Chats, Short-toed Rock Thrush and White-browed
Sparrow-Weaver should be looked for en route. You will see the incredible nests
of Sociable Weavers built upon telephone poles. Lucky birders will see
Double-banded Courser and White-bellied Korhaan. Stop for lunch at Griekwastad
which has a small restaurant with reasonably good fare but slow service. Follow
highway 64 to Groblershoop, turning north (right) onto highway 10. Arriving in
Upington you will cross the Orange River where highway 10 becomes Scott Street
at a round-about (sign for Upington Protea Hotel here). Keep left onto Scott
Street and drive one block, turning right onto Schroder Street which curves
left. The Upington Protea is two blocks on the right at number 24. The
comfortable hotel has a bird feeder outside the lobby window that attracts a few
night at the Upington Protea Hotel, Upington
Up mg ton and Spitskop Nature Reserve are optional sites not harbouring species
that can be found elsewhere. I recommend driving through to Augrabies Falls
National Park and staying there in the chalets.
Spitskop Nature Reserve
(7.) If you decided to stay
the night at the Upington Protea Lodge you should visit this reserve at dawn on
Day 5 then drive directly to Augrabies Falls after breakfast. From the Upington
Protea drive northeast along Schroder Street (the opposite direction you came
into town). (Schroder Street becomes highway 14 which leads to Johannesburg).
After driving two blocks, turn left onto River Street and drive three blocks,
turning right onto Le Roux Street. Follow Le Roux, winding west, then northwest
for 4 kms to the highway 360 /10 junction. Proceed across highway 10 onto
highway 360. Drive 5 kms and begin looking for Stark's Larks on the roadside.
Ten kilometers along highway 360 is the signed entrance to Spitskop Reserve on
the right. Pay the nominal fee at the office which is open from 7 am to 7 pm.
The reserve is centered on a striking granite hill- "koppie" - where
you will find Mountain Chat. A well-maintained dirt road winds back-and-forth
through the small reserve giving the idea you'll never return to where you
started. There are no dangerous animals. Among the many karoo species you should
find Stark's, Spike-heeled & Sabota Larks, Red-billed Quelea and Lark-like
Bunting. Watching the water trough at the koppie is worthwhile.
Augrabies Falls National Park
(8.) Driving straight through
to Augrabies Falls from Kimberley you will encounter a round-about as you enter
Upington along highway 10. Keep left and straight-ahead onto Brug Street. Take
the second left which is highway 14. From the Upington Protea, return along
Schroder Street to the round-about. Follow highway 14 for 92 kms, turning right
off highway 14 at the sign for Augrabies Falls National Park. Along highway 14
watch for White-browed Sparrow-Weaver and Lark-like Bunting along the fence
lines. Numerous Sociable Weaver nests decorate the roadside poles (watch for
white-wash as Pygmy Falcons nest in chambers 'ii these nests). The road is paved
to the park (28 kms). Pay the nominal fee at the park gate and proceed to the
parking lot at the park complex and chalets. You will arrive very late in the
afternoon. I highly recommend a stay at the delightful cottages and chalets in
this most scenic area of South Africa. Each modern unit has air-conditioned
rooms, hot-water showers, two beds, and the park has laundry service, a swimming
pool, an a la carte and self-service restaurant, and tourist shop.
at the holiday chalets, Augrabies Falls National Park
Leisurely birding begins
immediately outside your rooms under endless blue skies. The Orange River forms
a narrow green ribbon in an otherwise stark, but beautiful rose-tinted sandstone
landscape. From the parking lot and chalets walk along the road to the north
across the lawns of the picnic sites and through the lovely groves of trees.
Along the luxuriant tree-lined banks of the river you should find Palm Swift,
White-backed & Red-faced Mousebirds, (African) Hoopoe, Golden-tailed
Woodpecker, Red-eyed Bulbul, Southern Olive Thrush, Familiar Chat, Cape Robin,
Print Batis, African Pied & Cape Wagtails, possibly Crimson-breasted Shrike,
Glossy Starling, Dusky
Sunbird, Grey-headed Sparrow, Common Waxbill, and White-throated & Yellow
The local Namaqua Prinia is
found along a small dirt side-road that branches to the west (left) between the
entrance gate and the parking lot. Stop at the second creek crossing that is
surrounded by large reeds (1/2 km) and play a tape to bring this shy and furtive
prinia into view. Little Bittern is possible and African Marsh Warbler and Red
Bishop are common. Exploring the river's banks and its reedbeds you should find
African Darter, Black-headed & Goliath Herons, Hamerkop, Egyptian Goose,
South African Shelduck, Cape & Red-billed Teals and African Fish Eagle. A
short drive outside the park's gates will take you into the drought-resistant
vegetation in the surrounding seemingly endless desertlands. The brush, open
plains and grasslands that begin a few feet from the river's edge harbour Orange
River & Red-necked Francolins, Namaqua Dove, Fawn-coloured Lark, Ashy Tit,
Karoo Robin, Layard's Tit-Babbler, Tit-Babbler, the tiny Cape Penduline Tit,
Grey-backed Cisticola, Black-chested Prinia, Rufous-eared Warbler, Chat &
Marico Flycatchers, Great Sparrow and Cape Bunting.
Breaking for lunch at the restaurant you will be mobbed by aggressive Pale-winged Starlings, Southern Masked Weavers and Cape White-eyes. A pair of Acacia Pied Barbet nest in a hole in a tree adjacent to the restaurant patio.
After lunch walk along the
signed trail to admire the impressive gorge with its turbulent rapids and falls.
As the Orange River meanders towards the South Atlantic it reaches Augrabies in
a powerful explosion of sound. Here the rapid flow cuts a dramatic series of
deep gorges and canyons, thus creating the spectacular waterfalls. in the
cooling spray scan the cliffs for Rock Pigeons as Alpine, Black, Little &
White-romped Swifts, possibly a Bradfield's Swift, Greater Striped, South
African Cliff & White-throated Swallows and Brown-throated & Rock
Martins swirl over the falls. A Peregrine Falcon could be seen hunting through
the gorge while overhead you may see a Pale Chanting-Goshawk, Black Eagle,
Black-breasted Snake-Eagle or Greater Kestrel.
Sadly you must leave
Augrabies Falls by early afternoon. From the falls you continue southwest
passing through an extensive valley of rolling, bright-red sand dunes. From the
falls, return to highway 14 turning right (west) towards Poffader 135 kms away.
Watch the roadside and overhead wires en route for Acacia Pied Barbet,
Sickle-winged & Mountain Chats, Chat Flycatcher, Sociable Weaver and
(9.) After driving about 95
kilometers across the vast expanses of space and silence begin scanning the
plains for Karoo Korhaan and the road shoulder for Long-billed Lark (40-30 kms
(10.) You will arrive at your
hotel in Poffader during the early evening. Turn left (south) from highway 14 at
the gas station along the main road into town. The Hotel Pofadder is found on
the right after a block or two. The accommodation is surprising comfortable with
excellent set meals, hut the water pressure ensures that the showers are slow in
producing a steady flow and the toilets flush only periodically. Birding is good
around the hotel's pool with White-backed & Red-faced Mousebirds, Red-eyed
Bulbul, Familiar Chat, African Marsh Warbler, Pale-winged Starling, Dusky
Sunbird, Southern Masked Weaver and Black-throated Canary.
at the Pofadder Hotel, Poffader
South of the Orange River
lies an arid I semi-arid wilderness where it is possible to travel for days
without seeing another person. This area, reminiscent of the Kalahari desert to
the north, is called the Bushmanland which stretches for hundreds of miles to
the coast. Today you will explore the ancient bed of the Orange River and its
varied habitats. Many of the target species around Pofadder are endemic larks
and you should find flocks of these birds everywhere here at the hub of their
evolution, especially on stark gravel plains. Besides the target species of
lark, Karoo, Thick-billed, Sabota & Clapper Larks can be found in the area.
The paved main street through Pofadder ends in a "T" junction (1 km).
Keep right for the road to the owling and Rufous-checked Nightjar,
Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and Red Lark sites, left for the farm ponds and
Sclater's Lark. Along the right-hand road, 3-4 kms from Pofadder, is a flat,
open gravel plain covered in stunted desert shrubs. The karoo here is excellent
for karoo species including Karoo Chat. There are no kilometer stones along
Pofadders well-maintained gravel roads complicating directions, especially the
Sclater's Lark site. Begin your day owling before daylight and finish with the
Sclater's Lark site after lunch.
(11.) Sclater's Lark: Drive
along gravel highway 358 for exactly 29 kms, passing one main road branching
left - to the second, Houmoed (a town on maps, but just a big green sign for
Kraandraal etc.). Turn left towards Kraandraal and proceed a further 1~l8 kms (a
15 minute drive at 50-60 kms an hour) to the first small rise on the otherwards
flat plain looking for an obvious man-made object silhouetted on a small rise
along the north (left) skyline. The karoo here is rather barren with areas
scattered with small stones. A few Stark's Larks and many Spike-heeled &
Red-capped Larks will be flushed before the bold white outer-tail feathers of
the Sclater's are detected. Try the southside of the road first. Tractrac &
Karoo Chats and Rufous-eared Warblers inhabit the plains. En route to the lark
site you will pass a farm with ponds with shorebirds and ducks including African
Shelduck and Kittlitz's Plover. South African Cliff Swallows occur.
(12.) Taking the right road
from Pofadder (another well-maintained gravel road) drive southwest for
approximately 29 kms at 4:30 am. Watch the tops of the telephone poles en route
for the dark silhouettes of owls. The road winds up and into a mountainous area.
Stop where the road starts a decline and is surrounded by huge boulders. Play a
tape here for Rufous-cheeked Nightjar and both Cape (rare) & Spotted
Eagle-Owls. On the cliffs are groups of Rosy-faced Lovebirds (scarce) and
(13.) Proceed about 23 kms
from the owl site, bypassing an intersection on the right signed "to
Pelis". Turn left (south) at the next road after a short distance. The next
junction is in a km or so. In a northwesterly direction this road leads to
highway 14 near Aggeneys. Cross over this road and proceed south 3 or 4 kms
until both sides of the road are surrounded in rolling dunes, some covered in
short scrubby vegetation. The high red sand dunes are scattered over a vast area
and it is here, directly from the roadside, that you will look for the Red Lark.
Reaching the breeding grounds of this local and uncommon lark at dawn is a
necessity as they are only active for a short time after first light (it is
often close to freezing here at dawn). Listen for the beautiful flight song of
this little-known lark, a species restricted to these dunes, and tape them in
for close views. Grey-backed & Black-eared Finch-Larks occur here. As the
sun begins to warm, park at the nearby stock water trough where Namaqua
Sandgrouse, Namaqua Dove, Scaly-feathered & Red-headed Finches, Yellow
Canary, and the white-headed race of Black-headed Canary come to drink.
(14.) Retrace your route back
towards the owling site watching for Capped Wheatear en route. About 10 kms from
the Red Lark site you will see an obvious deep "V" valley in the
mountain to the north. Park, and walk up the fairly steep incline across the
broad flats dotted with tiny succulent euphorbias and white quartz pebbles
towards the weathered, flat-topped mountain. Lark-like Bunting will be seen
along the way. Once at the base of the rocky hillside with the large boulders
interspersed with large desert aloes (1/2 km walk) play a tape for the secretive
Cinnamon-breasted Warbler. Black Eagle and Bradfield's Swift fly overhead, while
Short-toed Rock Thrush, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Grey-backed Cisticola and Cape
Bunting flit among the rocks and scrub. In the wadi here there is a slightly
thicker growth of acacia shrubs and trees, home to Layard's Tit-Babbler and
Return to the road which leads 9 kms
to highway 14 near Aggeneys. turning right. Open the gate and drive through.
Ludwig's Bustard and Karoo Korhaan occur on the grassy plains. There are two
more gates before reaching highway 14. Turn right and drive 54 kms to Pofadder.
En route, scan the very barren areas about half-way for Burchell's Courser and
watch the telephone poles for Pale Chanting-Goshawk and Greater Kestrel. Namaqua
Sandgrouse will be seen before reaching Pofadder. Have lunch before heading out
for Sclater's Lark.
at the Pofadder Hotel, Poffader
Today you have an
555-kilometer drive south to Lambert's Bay. Leave after an early breakfast as it
will take eight hours to reach Lambert's Bay with stops for lunch, gas, and one
or two bird observations. However the highways are excellent and you can make
brief roadside stops to bird along the way. One of these stops will be to see
the local Protea Canary as you approach the cool Atlantic coast - a welcomed
change after your days in the desert. Simply drive west along highway 14 to
Springbok (watching the roadside poles for Pale Chanting-Goshawk and Greater
Kestrels and the plains for Karoo Korhaan, Namaqua Sandgrouse and Mountain Chat)
then south along highway 7 to Clanwilliam. Stop along the highway shoulder 15
kms east of Springbok at the Goegap Wild Flower Reserve (when the incredibly
fragrant and spectacular carpets of flowers come into view). Here you may see
Stark's Lark, Grey-backed & Black-eared Finch-Larks, and Lark-like Bunting.
Stop for gas in Springbok (163 kms from Pofadder) and follow the signs through
town, then left for highway 7. A simple right turn onto highway 7 south is all
that is required. Watch the skies carefully for Booted Eagle in the area of
Kamieskroon (68 kms south of Springbok). After driving 421 kms from Pofadder a
stop for lunch at the gas stop in Vanrhynsdorp will be welcomed. The restaurant
is quaint with good food. From here to Clanwilliam the first of many
Yellow-billed Kites will be seen and possibly a Black Crow. At Clanwilliam (496
kms from Pofadder), turn left and under the overpass onto highway 364 to
Lambert's Bay, a further 59 kms (or visit the Protea Canary site).
(16.) The recently split
Barlow's Lark can be found alongside the closely related Karoo Lark in unknown
diamond fields near this town. There are good accommodations but details are
unknown. From Pofadder, follow highway 14 west, 7 north and 382 west for 165
kms. All roads are paved. An optional site which requires an extra day and
knowledge of the whereabouts of this new species.
Clanwilliam MAP 4
(1.) You should have plenty
of time for a brief stop at this important site. Driving south along highway 7
bypass the turnoff for highway 364 that leads to Lambert's Bay. Proceed south on
highway 7 for about 7 kms, turning right onto a dirt road at the sign for
Paleishewel. (En route you will pass a flooded area and marshes along highway 7
with (African) Darters and other waterbirds). Drive 1.5 kms up
the dirt road to a narrow, rocky valley, "the" site for the
local Protea Canary which responds well to tapes. African Sedge Warblers
frequent the small reedy marshes lining the road as well as Yellow-rumped Widow
and Red Bishop.
(2.) The semi-desert
landscape turns to green as you wind your way through riverine woodlands and
farms towards the coastal fringe with its boulder-strewn beaches, estuaries and
saltmarshes. To reach the Marine Protea Hotel in the small port town of
Lambert's Bay, turn right from highway 364 just beyond the gas station and
proceed one or two blocks to the downtown waterfront. The hotel is directly to
the right of this corner. Check into your charming lodge with ocean views. There
will be enough daylight to visit Bird Island which is one block left (south) of
the hotel at the harbour's centre. Park at the causeway and walk to the reserve
with its large colony of Cape Gannets and small group of Jackass Penguins.
White-breasted, Bank, Cape & Crowned Cormorants, Kelp, Grey-headed &
Hartlaub's Gulls, Antarctic, Swift & Sandwich Terns, African Black
Oystercatcher and Common Sandpiper frequent the area.
at the Marine Protea Hotel. Lambert's Bay
Lambert's Bay to Ceres
Today you bird coastal fynbos, strandveld, and wetlands as you wind your way towards Ceres. At dawn bird the Vaalviei road and return to the hotel for your set breakfast. Begin birding along the coast by mid-morning, finishing at West Coast National Park. Leave the park at four o’clock, which will give you enough time (two-hours) to drive the l53 kms to Ceres before dark.
(3.) A weir alongside the Lambert's Bay trailer park at the north side of town has created the Jakkaisviei, a flooded area with wetland birds. Greater & Lesser Flamingos are abundant. The strandveld here is excellent, Black & African Marsh Harriers occur.
(4.) Drive back east along highway 364 for 6-7 kms, turning left (north) onto a dirt road at the sign for Vaalviei. A good patch of coastal fynbos habitat is located 2 km up this road. Park at a barbwire gate on the right and walk through. Excellent site for Cape & Grey-winged Francolins, Common Quail, Karoo Lark (south-western Cape race), Clapper & Thick-billed Larks, Southern Grey Tit, Cape Bulbul, Long-billed Crombec, Spotted Prinia, Bokmakierie, Pied & Wattled Starlings, and Yellow & Black-headed Canaries. A small marsh en route will produce Black Crake, Common Moorhen, Purple Gallinule, Levaillant's Cisticola and Red Bishop. Pin-tailed Whydah occur.
(5.) After checking out of the hotel proceed south of Lambert's Bay along unpaved coastal highway 365, turning right after 8 kms onto a dirt toll-road that parallels the Sishen-Saldahna railway line. The road is signed Toleraba. A short way down the road pay the daily toll of 6 Rand. The pan is observed directly from the road where Black-necked Grebe, Glossy Ibis, African Spoonbill, Greater & Lesser Flamingoes, Crowned, Blacksmith, White-fronted, Common Ringed, Kittlitz's, Grey & Chestnut-banded Plovers, Common, Wood, Marsh & Curlew Sandpipers, Common Greenshank, Little Stint, Ruff, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, South African Shelduck, Cape Teal, Cape Shoveler and the scarce Maccoa Duck occur. The surrounding strandveld harbours Burchell's & Double-banded Coursers, Cape Turtle-, Laughing & Namaqua Doves, Red-faced & White-backed Mousebirds, Clapper, Long-billed, Red-capped & Thick-billed Larks, Grey-backed Finch-Lark, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Sickle-winged & Karoo Chats, Stonechat, Karoo Robin, Tit-Babbler, Layard's Tit-Babbler, Bar-throated Apalis, the miniscule Cloud Cisticola high overhead in its flight song, Grey-backed Cisticola, Rufous-eared Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher, Grassveld, Long-billed & Plain-backed Pipits, Orange-throated Longclaw, Malachite & Lesser Double-collared Sunbirds, Bully, Yellow & White-throated Canarys and Cape Bunting.
Eland's Bay (Elandsbaai)
(6.) Continue west and south from Wadrif Soutpan along the dirt road to the reedbeds and lake (Verlorenvlei) at Eland's Bay, about 7 kms. Cape & Southern Masked Weavers and Cape Reed Warblers are easily found in the reeds. Great Crested Grebe, (African) Darter, Little & Yellow-billed Egrets, Glossy & Sacred Ibises, Grey & Purple Herons, Pastern White Pelican, various ducks, Purple Gallinule, Grey-headed Gull, Pied & Malachite Kingfishers, (African) Hoopoe, Yellow-romped Widow and Common Waxbill occur. The rocky outcrop (Baboon Point) has Black Swifts, swallows and raptors.
Rocher Pan Reserve
(7.) Continue south from Eland's Bay on the dirt road (named the Piketberg) towards Aurora. European Bee-eaters are common along this stretch. Turn right after approximately 33 kms. This corner may or may not be signed to Velddriff or Dwarskersbos but it is the first right turn after loosing sight of the sea. After an additional 6-7 kms there is a sign for Rocher Pan Reserve on the right. Cape Penduline Tits are reliable along the entrance road. Herons, egrets, waterfowl, including Maccoa Duck and Red-billed Teal, are to be found. Sign the register at the office (no entry charge). There are clean flush toilets. Pavement begins 4 kms away at Dwarskersbos.
(8.) Saltworks are located on the west side of highway 27. highly visible just south of the Berg River bridge 2 kms south of Velddriff. Drive onto the property and ask permission to bird the salt pans. The specialty here is Chestnut-banded Plover (also found at the salt works near Yzerfontein). Other shorebirds will be present as well as Capped Wheatear.
(9.) Velddriff is 8 kms from Dwarskersbos. Immediately east of the junction of Highways 27 and 399 in downtown Velddriff (park along 399) is the Berg River estuary with flamingos, egrets, herons, gulls, Caspian & Common Terns, and shorebirds including Whimbrel. Many accidentals have occurred here including Little Blue Heron and Broad-billed Sandpiper.
West Coast National Park
(10.) Your last stop along the coast is West Coast National Park where you will see your target species, the aesthetic Black Harrier. Continue 20 kms south on highway 27 from Veldriff, turning right at the 1-stop gas station to Langebaan (6 kms). Follow the signs through the center of town to the park which is situated directly on the outskirts. Pay the nominal entrance fee at the gate and proceed along the paved road a short distance to "Look Out Uitkyk". Begin scanning for Black & African Marsh Harriers from here to the road to "Geelbek Bird Hide" (about 4 kms). Other species expected include Cape & Grey-winged Francolins, Helmeted Guineafowl, Southern Black Korhaan, Spotted Dikkop and Banded Martin. Proceed past the southern park boundary and return to highway 27 following highways 315 and 46,153 kms to Ceres. Blue Cranes occur in the rolling fields en route. See Day 9 for directions to the Belmont Hotel.
Night at the Belmont Hotel, Ceres
(11.) The Belmont Hotel is found north of highway 46 on Porters Street in downtown Ceres. The turn (left) is signed for the hotel, an excellent old refurbished sanatorium. There are several very attractive bungalows as well as the rooms in the main hotel.
(12.) Visit Bainskloof Pass at dawn. The southern tip of Africa is just a sliver of land, but it holds one of the six major floral regions in the world, supporting 7,000 plant species of which half are endemic. Known as fynbos or macchia, this chaparral-like vegetation varies from coastal heath around Lambert's Bay to dense protea-rich shrubland in the mountains near Cape Town and Ceres. Our target species at the pass is the localized, secretive Victorin's Warbler as well as Cape Siskin. All roads are paved. From Ceres follow highway 46 west towards Wolseley, then turn left onto highway 43 towards Worchester. Turn right onto highway 301 towards Wellington (about 20 kms from Ceres). The road narrows as you drive over the Darling Bridge. White-rumped Swift, White-backed Mousebird, Cape Robin, Red Bishop and Yellow-rumped Widow occur here. After driving approximately 8-10 kms along highway 301 you will climb steeply into a gorge cloaked in fynbos. This unusual and floristically rich habitat will be ablaze with colour if it has rained. Stop at the first pullout on the left approaching the summit (the first one available at this approximate distance and altitude). There are two pullovers here and the site is further recognized by a stone wall at a small creek/waterfall just before a sharp left curve (the first stone wall along this stretch of road). Play a tape scanning the brush above you for the reliable Victorin's Warbler. With a little perseverance you should find the Cape Siskin eliminating the need to visit Cape Point in Cape Town. Others in the vicinity are Cape Batis, Lesser Double-collared Sunbird, Cape. Yellow & Protea Canaries, and Cape Bunting.
Back at the hotel, have breakfast before starting out for a drive back north into the desolate karoo. From Ceres follow highway 46 northeast, paved for 39 kms. Leaving the lush orchards and farmlands around Ceres you will pass over a low escarpment into an endless stony plain. The semi-arid karoo here is covered in the most beautiful array of small euphorbias and succulent scrub. Birds e abundant here along the rim of the Great Karoo, home to many small birds including the karoo form of Karoo Lark. The scenic emerald hillsides soon change to a shimmering dry and barren desert bisected by sandy wadis and dotted with thorn trees. At the 39 kilometer stone the road changes to rough-gravel highway 355 - noted for flat tires - you should rent two spares in Ceres before attempting this northward journey. At the beginning of highway 355 the kilometers stones begin at zero.
(13.) At km 6 (i.e. 45 kms from Ceres) stop at the small picnic area, a good site for Southern Grey Tit and the warbler-like Fairy Flycatcher. In this vicinity a gravel road branches right signed to Southerland. Continue straight ahead on highway 355 stopping at the small windmill at km stone 13.5, "the" site for the localized Karoo Eremomela. The plains harbour Karoo, Spike-heeled, Thick-billed & Red-capped Larks, Capped Wheatear, Sickle-winged & Karoo Chats, Long-billed Crombec, Spotted Prinia, Rufous~ eared Warbler, Scaly-feathered Finch - and many of those noted around Poffader.
(14.) At the 41 km stone (80 kms from Ceres), turn left at the sign for Op-Die-Berg. Stop 3-4 kms along the road after reaching the rocky slopes. Search for the elusive Cinnamon-breasted Warbler amongst the rocks and gorges filled with aloes and shrubs. This is a reliable site, although even after taping this secretive species it can still be difficult to observe. Black Eagle, White-rumped Swift, Layard's Tit-Babbler, Grey-backed Cisticola, Dusky Sunbird and Pale-winged Starling are common.
After a full-day of birding around Ceres you will drive southwards to Cape Town for a three-nights stay. From Ceres, drive back along highway 46 to Malmesbury and turn south onto highway 7. Drive 70 kms turning right (after crossing the overpass) onto the westbound lanes of highway 2 toward the center of Cape Town. Once on highway 2, drive 5.3 kms exiting left at the third sign designating "Pinelands" which also has a sign for "City Lodge". Turn left onto Raapenberg Street and cross over the overpass and right at the first street (Howard Place) to the City Ledge at Pinelands - Mowbray. You should arrive around sunset. This luxurious hotel, situated alongside highway 2, is the most convenient accommodation while staying in Cape Town. The airport is only eight-minutes away, Kirstenbosch Gardens fifteen-minutes away and freeways link the hotel to Sir Lowry's Pass, Cape Point and both pelagic ports at Simon's Town and Hout Bay.
Night at City Lodge Pinelands Hotel, Cape Town
Cape Town MAP 5
(1.) Framed beneath Table Mountain, the modern city of Cape Town is famous for its natural setting and dramatic scenery. Although the Cape does not posses a diverse passerine avifauna, a high proportion are endemic and two-and-a-half days in the southwest Cape will provide the opportunity to explore all of the major habitats of the area. Your pelagic trip should he scheduled for Day 10 50 you have Day 11 as an alternative if it is cancelled. After your day at sea (you will return to port around four pm) visit the boulders or Kommetijie Point for Antarctic Tern and then Cape Point if necessary. On the morning of Day 11 drive to Sir Lowry's Pass and onward to De Mond Nature Reserve. Spend the morning of Day 12 at Kirstenbosch Gardens before catching your early afternoon flight to Durban.
Kirstenbosch Gardens MAP 6
(2.) In the woodlands of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens you will search for your target species, the skulking Knysna Warbler.
From City Lodge, turn left onto Raapenberg Road, cross the overpass and turn left onto highway 2 Follow highway 2, leaving left onto the fourth exit for highway 3/Rhodes Street. Proceed 6 kms along Rhodes to a sharp bend and turn right at the traffic lights onto Rhodeskylaan Stad (highway 63). Follow the signs to the gardens another 2 kms. The gardens are open 8:00 am to 7:00 pm Here you will find a large parking lot, elaborate covered displays, shopping areas, and a restaurant that is open from 8:30-9:00 am to 5:00 pm. There is a 7 Rand ($1.25 US) entrance fee. Obtain a map of the grounds at the gate. Immediately after the gate you will reach the Kanferlaning walkway. The large tree directly on the left has a Spotted Eagle-Owl nesting in the crotch at eye-level; the male will be found roosting nearby. The "hit" species here is Knysna Warbler. Find the Braille wandelpad (Braille Trail) on your map and enter the trail from the left side. The thick bracken as you enter has a reliable Knysna Warbler which tapes out nicely. Try anywhere along this trail. Another location is found about a half-kilometer away. Prom the Braille trail follow the Smuts se wandelpad (Smuts trail) left and steeply uphill to the Skeletonkloof and Contour trails (look for Spotted Dikkop on lawns). Walk through the beautiful forest keeping right along the bracken fringed creek. Tape in cool, sheltered sites. Many species inhabit the gardens and woods with Cape Francolin, Helmeted Guineafowl, Rock Pigeon, Red-chested Cuckoo, Pied Kingfisher, (African) Hoopoe, Cape & Sombre Bulbuls, Southern Olive Thrush, Familiar Chat, Cape Robin, Cape Batis, Southern Boubou. Bokmakierie, (African) Paradise Flycatcher, Cape Sugarbird, Malachite, Orange-breasted & Lesser Double-collared Sunbirds, Cape Weaver, Red Bishop, Yellow-rumped Widow, and Yellow, Streaky-headed, Cape & Forest Canarys. A patch of sedge (marked Kruietuin on the garden map) is home to a pair of cooperative African Sedge Warblers.
Simon's Town pelagic trip
(3.) At first light, weather permitting, board your chartered sport fishing boat and cruise 40 miles offshore to the cold Benguela Current (see the address sheet in the addendum for charter information). The weather off the Cape can be notoriously unpredictable and the chance of a cancellation should be included in your schedule. Those affected by seasickness can visit the famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens or other Cape Town sites. The thousands of seabirds on the fishing grounds off Cape Town is one of the great birding spectacles. Among the countless, sweeping tubenoses in the wake of the factory trawlers are Shy, Black-browed & Yellow-nosed Albatrosses, Southern & Northern Giant Petrels, White-chinned & Pintado Petrels, Greater, Sooty & Cory's Shearwaters, Subantarctic Skua, Arctic Skua (Jaeger). Black-bellied & Wilson's Storm-Petrels, Cape Gannet, Sabine's Gull, and Arctic Terns. Among the less common species are Wandering & Grey-headed Albatrosses, Great-winged & Soft-plumaged Petrels, Antarctic Fulmar, Broad-billed Prion and European Storm-Petrel. To reach Simmon's Town from the City Lodge enter highway 2 towards the airport and keep left at highway 6 (the first exit). Turn right (south) over the overpass and continue 4.2 kms to the second divided highway turning right. After 1.9 kms turn left, entering the southbound lanes of highway 5. Proceed an additional 13 kms to highway 310 and turn right along the coast. At Muizenberg keep left at the "T" junction onto highway 4 and continue 9 kms along the coast to Simon's Town. The harbour is sighted easily from the highway but ask the captain for directions to your chartered boat. Simon's Town's small harbour is a real "yuppie" retreat with delightful outdoor cafes and shops.
Simon's Town to City Lodge
Reverse your route back to highway 5 - but continue (16 kms) taking the Pinelands exit. Keep left and proceed about one km to the traffic lights. Turn right, then immediately left following the "to highway 2" signs. At the "T" junction and traffic lights turn right under the overpass onto Raapenberg Road. Proceed over the highway 2 overpass and then right onto Howard Place to the hotel.
The boulders and Kommetijie Point
(4.) About 4 kms beyond Simon's Town along highway 4you will find "The Boulders", a touristy Jackass Penguin colony and roost site for Antarctic Terns. You can also find these terns roosting on the rocks below the lighthouse at Kommetijie Point south of Hout Bay. Cape, Bank & Crowned Cormorants, African Black Oystercatcher, Kelp, Grey-headed & Hartlaub's Gulls, and Swift & Common Terns also roost along the shores.
Note:Cape Point is an optional site that need not be visited if you spend time finding the Cape Siskin at Ceres. This site could be visited in the late afternoon on returning from your pelagic trip, either Simon's Town or Hout Bay.
(5.) If you missed the erratic Cape Siskin at Ceres visit the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve for another try. Continue south along highway 4 an additional 8 kms from The Boulders to the sign on the left for the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (Cape Point). Pay the nominal entrance fee at the gate (open dawn to dusk) and proceed a further 12 kms to the end of the road and the parking lot birding en route. African Marsh Harrier and Southern Black Korhaan occur. Here you will find a take-out restaurant with terrible food. Look for Grey-backed Cisticola and Cape Siskin around the parking area. If you are unsuccessful, walk up the steep stairs along with the hords of tourists to the lookout. Check the mortar cracks in the walls and buildings for Cape Siskin, Cape Rock Thrush, Cape Bunting and possibly Ground Woodpecker.
Pelagic trip from Hout Bay
(5.) From City Lodge follow directions under Kirstenbosch Gardens to the junction with Rhodes Street (highway 3) and highway 63. Continue along highway 63 an additional 8 kms to Hout Bay.
Sir Lowry's Pass MAP 4
(15.) Sir Lowry's Pass lies at the summit of the rugged, wind-swept Hottentot Mountains to the east of Cape Town where virtually every species of protea of the Cape region is protected. This beautiful array of flowers feeds the Cape Sugarbird which resembles a gigantic sunbird. Drive about 55 kms east along highway 2 from Cape Town. At the summit there is an inconspicuous parking lot on the right. Behind a knoll, the parking area is difficult to see and even more difficult to turn into across the oncoming traffic. It may be easier to pass the parking lot a short way then make a "U turn arid come back. The summit is obvious - if you begin to descend you have past it. From the parking lot carefully cross the highway on foot. Look for a hole in the barbwire fence. There are two wide trails. Take the higher one which leads through the fynbos habitat with rocky outcrops at an elevation of 2,000 ft. The unusual fynbos vegetation and rocky mountain outcrops here are home to Black Eagle, Ground Woodpecker, White-necked Raven, Cape Bulbul, Cape Rock Thrush, the roadrunner-like Cape Rockjumper (specialized to these rocky regions), Grassbird, Grey-backed Cisticola, Spotted Prinia, Wattled & Pale-winged Starlings, and Malachite & Orange-breasted Sunbirds.
De Mond Nature Reserve
(16.) After birding the pass continue your drive to the southernmost point of Africa. The extensive wetlands of De Mond Nature Reserve harbour your target species, the localized Damara Tern. From Sir Lowry's Pass continue 55 kms along highway 2 east to Caledon (110 from Cape Town). Turn right through town along paved highway 316 and continue another 80 kms to Bredasdorp watching for the numerous Blue Cranes and Black Crows in the grain fields en route. Proceed along highway 316 another 10 kms and turn right at the signed dirt road that leads 16 kms to the reserve. Another alternative in reaching the reserve is to turn right onto highway 319 at Bredasdorp and after 14 kms turning left onto an unsigned dirt road. This road has numerous flooded areas that are excellent for Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, African Spoonbill, South African Shelduck, Cape & Red-billed Teal, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard, Yellow-billed Duck, Kittlitz's & Crowned Plovers, Little Stint, Ruff, Ethiopian Snipe, Pied Avocet, Red-knobbed Coot, as well as Whiskered Tern. One or two Stanley's Bustards are frequently encountered. Turn right from this road after driving 6 kms and continue another 11 kms to the reserve. At the office are trail maps arid washrooms (open 7 am to 4 pm). Watch for Water Dikkops under the trees here. The "hit" species are the breeding Damara Terns which are found easily over the estuary close to the parking lot. Walk over the foot suspension bridge and follow the trail along the estuary towards the ocean. Shorebirds are numerous with White-fronted & Grey Plovers, Red Knot, Ruddy Turnstone, Terek, Common, Marsh & Curlew Sandpipers,. Common Greenshank, Sanderling, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew and Whimbrel. Eastern White Pelican, Crowned Cormorant, Greater & Lesser Flamingoes, Kelp, Grey-headed & Hartlaub's Gulls, and Caspian, Swift & Common Terns frequent the estuary. The seven-kilometer "Sterna Trail" passes through riverine vegetation, dune forest and saltmarshes. You can continue to Cape Aguilhas along highway 319 (30 kms from Bredasdorp). There is a scenic drive along the sea here at the southernmost point of Africa with a photogenic lighthouse. Numerous seabirds roost on the rocks and Black-winged Plover has been seen on the towns lawns.
2 Nights at City Lodge Pinelands Hotel, Cape Town
Flight from Cape Town to Durban MAP 7
(1.) After a final morning of birding in Cape Town fly to Durban oil the Natal coast. To save time many birders will find it profitable to drop their rentals at Cape Town (no drop off charges with Avis) and fly the 1660 kms to Durban and gain a another car rental there. South African Airways includes one free domestic flight with a round-trip flight from overseas, however, the one-way flight will only cost about $140.00 US. Reserve your flight for the early afternoon so there is ample time to drive to Oribi Gorge Hotel after landing at Durban. The flight is 2 1/2 hours and the drive to Oribi Gorge is 2 1/2 hours. Look for House Crows at the Cape Town International Airport and Indian Myna at Durban's. After picking up your second air-conditioned car in Durban you have a 150-kilometer drive to your lodgings, arriving at dusk. Highway 2 runs beside the airport and you simply turn left from the car rental lot onto the southbound lanes following the coast to Port Shepstone - from there you continue following highway 2 inland for ten kms. The turnoff to Oribi Gorge is well-signed both at the 10 km post and again at 21 kms. As there is a paved circular drive you can enter it from either end. Turn right at the first exit for the hotel which is found 11 kms along the circular drive. The hotel has magnificent views of the gorge's breathtaking rock formations. Country-style meals are served. Here you can bird the forests of Oribi Gorge Nature Preserve outside your hotel rooms. In the evening Wood Owl and Freckled Nightjar are regularly heard around the hotel.
Night at Oribi Gorge Hotel, Oribi Gorge
Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve
(2.) Although not on the birding circuit this site is excellent for locating Short-tailed, Plain-backed & Striped Pipits, Pale-crowned Cisticola and Kurrichane & Black-romped Buttonquail; the latter flushed from underfoot from short, dense grassland. Short-tailed Pipits are common but must be flushed from their short-grass areas, especially recently burnt grassland. Striped Pipits are associated with rocky and wooded grassland. The elusive Pale-crowned Cisticola is found in moist, relatively short grasslands of the upper plateaus. The reserve is signed from highway 2 at the Park Rynie/Umzinto overpass. Follow paved highway 612 north, bypassing the town of Umzinto, for 12.5 kms (3 kms past Umzinto). Turn right onto the dirt road at the sign for the reserve. Follow signs along this road for 6 kms to the main entrance which is open sunrise to sunset. There is a nominal fee, washrooms and several walking trails through both forest and grassland - or drive the 12 km network of roads. Ticks can be a problem.
Umtamvuna Nature Reserve
(3.) Again this reserve is not on the birding circuit but it is a more reliable site for Knysna Woodpecker; if missed at Oribi Gorge, look for it along the Umtamvuna River. Long-tailed Wagtails are common along the side-streams leading into this river. Red-winged & Shelly's Francolins occur in the upper grasslands where an occasional Ground Hornbill may he seen. The reserve is signed from the Port Edward crossroads. Turn right along the paved Izingolweni Road and 8 kms along this road is the well-signed turnoff to the Beacon Hill entrance and the main office. The reserve is open sunrise to sunset with a nominal entrance fee. A detailed booklet of the trails can be obtained at the office (there are no roads to drive). Trails are 1/2 to 8 hours in length.
Oribi Gorge Nature Reserve
(4.) Mocking & Familiar Chats, Striped Pipit and Cape Rock Thrush frequent the rocky habitat at the hotels doorstep. In the heavily forested gorge is your target species. the local and endemic Knysna Woodpecker. From highway 2, take the turnoff at the km 21 stone (signed for Oribi Gorge) and then turn immediately left at the sign for the hutted camp. [Those staying at the Oribi Gorge Hotel will simply take the circular drivel. There is a nominal entrance fee and washrooms are provided. Look for Black-collared Barbet, Lesser Striped & Black Saw-wing Swallows, Black-headed Oriole, Southern Black Flycatcher, Plum-coloured & Black-bellied Starlings, Greater Double-collared, Grey, Olive, Black & Collared Sunbirds, Cape Weaver and Yellow-eyed Canary here. Between the huts is a trail that crosses a short open area then winds downhill to join the circular drive after 200-300 meters. Look for shy Terrestrial Bulbuls along the path. Walk left along the circular drive to the 7 km stone where a tape will bring Starred Robins into view. Between the 7 km and 8 km stones are picnic tables. Opposite these tables you will see two obvious dead snags, one the nesting site of the Knysna Woodpecker. The high-pitched calls are heard fairly often, but over-taped, they are reluctant to come into view. Other birds in this vicinity include Natal Francolin, Tambourine Dove, Knysna Lourie, Black, Emerald & Klaas's Cuckoos, Palm Swift, Narina Trogon, Trumpeter & Crowned Hornbills, Red-fronted & Golden-romped Tinker Barbets, Olive Woodpecker, Grey Cuckoo-Shrike, Square-tailed Drongo, Brown Robin, Barratt's Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Bar-throated & Yellow-breasted Apalis, Green-backed Bleating Warbler, Dusky & (African) Paradise Flycatchers. Cape Batis, Southern Tchagra, Forest Weaver, Green Twinspot, Grey Waxbill and Red-backed Mannikin Walk downhill a further 100 meters to view the huge Crowned Eagle nest. Side streams of the Mzimkulwana River harbour Long-tailed \Wagtail. 'The rare African Finfoot occurs along quiet stretches of this river, while the uncommon African Black Duck frequents rougher stretches. Coqui Francolin, Harlequin Quail and Broad-tailed Warbler are difficult to observe but present in proper habitat. Others you should see include Long-crested Eagle, Black Sparrowhawk, African Goshawk, Gymnogene. Southern Olive Thrush, Chorister Robin and Lazy Cisticola.
Note: Pied Mannikin can be found at three localities in the Southport - Umtentweni area just north of Port Shepstone (see page 4 in "Birding in Southern KwaZulu-Natal ").
Ingeli Forest Lodge & Weza-Ngele Forest
(5.) After a home-made brunch at the Oribi Gorge Hotel begin your drive to the higher elevations around the Ingeli Forest Lodge. A huge brown sign on the left of highway 2 (23 kms northwest of Harding or about 94 kms from the first turnoff to Oribi Gorge) signals this splendid accommodation in a country setting. Those driving straight through from Durban will reach Ingeli in 3 hours. Semi-detached wooden cabins set in a beautifully landscaped garden surround an inviting pool. Among others, the peaceful grounds harbour Southern Olive Thrush, Pale-winged Starling, Malachite, Black & Lesser Double-collared Sunbirds, Grey-headed Sparrow. and Swee Waxbill. Trails wind through the adjacent Weza-Ngele Forest which is renowned for its small but stable population of Cape Parrots. Noisy pairs fly high over the lodge almost on a daily basis at dawn and dusk while up to thirty frequent favourite roosting sites among the huge forest yellow-woods. The lodge caters to birders and has free checklists and sells the small "Birding in Southern Kwa-Zulu Natal". Trail maps are available. From the lodge drive along the adjacent Weza road for 0.7 km. On the right you will see a line of small rocks painted white. Turn right onto the dirt road and drive a half-km to the "T" junction where there is a fenced home. Turn right, keep right at the next junction, and park after driving a further 1.5-2 kms at the swamp that has Redchested Flufftails and African Sedge Warbler. The Afromontane mist forest here harbours specialties such as Forest Buzzard, Cinnamon Dove and Bush Blackcap. Cape Parrots fly overhead early iii the day. As you walk along the old road through the cool forest with its tall yellow-wood and stinkwood trees heavily festooned with trailing lichens look for Crowned Eagle, Knysna Lourie, Emerald Cuckoo, Speckled Mousebird, Narina Trogon, Crowned & Trumpeter Hornbills, Greater, Lesser & Sharp-billed Honey guides, Black-headed Oriole, Southern Black Tit, Chorister & Starred Robins, Bar-throated & Yellow-breasted Apalis, Green-backed Bleating Warbler, Lazy Cisticola, Dusky & (African) Paradise Flycatchers, Cape Batis, Olive Bush-Shrike, Black-bellied Starling, Forest Weaver, Blue-billed Firefinch, and Yellow-eyed, Cape & Forest Canarys. The secretive Barratt's Warbler is common along the road as are Rameron Pigeon, Olive Woodpecker, Black Saw-wing Swallow and Yellow-throated Warbler. You will hear the long, drawn-out and mournful call of the ultra-secretive Buff-spotted Flufftail. These tiny rails inhabit the forest's shady floor. If your fortunate you will find an Orange Ground Thrush. Play a tape for this gorgeous thrush on reaching a sharp-bend about half a kilometer past the swamp. This Weza-Ngele specialty reacts strongly to the playback.
(6.) Back on the paved road to Weza, turn right (southeast). Long-crested Eagles are commonly encountered between km stones 10 and 16. Check the marsh at Weza (km 14) for Southern Crowned-Crane and Levaillant's Cisticola. The upland grasslands at km stones 6 and 10 harbour the endangered and local Blue Swallow. They are found exclusively in large green fields that are cropped short by grazing cattle. Mammal burrows must be present in these pastures for nesting. Scope these fields thoroughly as one pair can occupy a large territory. Also found in these fields are African Marsh Harrier, Rufous-naped Lark, Black Crow, White-necked Raven, Ayres' & Wailing Cisticolas, Grassveld & Long-billed Pipits, Stonechat and Common Waxbill. Recently burnt fields support Black-winged Plover and Plain-backed Pipit. Ground Hornbills occur.
Night at the lngeli Forest Lodge, Harding Kokstad
(7.) After a morning of birding and a farewell breakfast at the Ingeli Lodge you can drive directly to Himeville or bird the high pastures at Matatiele. From the Ingeli Lodge a drive of 145-kilometers will take you directly to Himeville. A side-trip to Matatiele is recommended. Matatiele does not have any satisfactory restaurants so have the lodge pack a lunch for you. Matatiele is a small town 73 kms northwest of Kokstad along highway 56. Watch for White Stork, Black Sparrowhawk, African Goshawk, Lanner Falcon and Black Swift en route. Turn left (south) from the center of town onto Jagger Street which is signed for "Mountain Lake". Proceed a short distance to the end of pavement and torn right onto gravel at the conservation sign. Kilometer stones begin here at zero. The road is fairly rough but drivable with an ordinary car. Scan any rocky areas en route for Buff-streaked Chat and bushes for Streaky-headed Canary. Proceed uphill to km 7.5 (to the first gate on the right just below the summit). Yellow-breasted Pipits are found on the high-altitude pastures that are grazed by sheep immediately after passing through the gate. Proceed along the road strattling the ruts to a second gate where you will see Mountain Lake. Park, and walk to the highest crest in front of you (about 1.5 kms from the main road). The cool, wind-swept short-grass ridges harbour Yellow-breasted & Grassveld Pipits, Orange-throated Longclaw and Rudd's & Red-capped Larks. Secretarybirds may be present where there are longer dry grasses.
Matatiele to Himeville
En route to Himeville you will drive through un-African-like grasslands at an elevation of 3,000-5,000 feet. These beautiful rolling farmlands hold Southern Crowned- & Blue Cranes, Cape Vulture, Black-shouldered Kite, Black Crow, Orange-throated Longclaw, Cape Weaver, Red-billed Quelea, Red Bishop, Red-shouldered, Red-collared & Long-tailed Widows and Pin-tailed Whydah. From Matatiele retrace your route southeast along highway 56 to Kokstad (73 kms). Turn left onto paved highway 617 and drive north to Underberg (101 kms). At Underberg turn left following the signs to Himeville (5 kms) (179 kms from Matatiele). The delightful Himeville Arms Hotel is easily found in this small village on the left along the main street. Lying below the mighty Drakensberg massif and its spectacular craggy spikes and rock buttresses, this Tudor-style country inn has six semi-detached cottages that are equipped with excellent heaters, necessary at these high elevations. The dining room serves delicious set meals. Speckled Mousebird, Black-headed Oriole, Cape Robin, Cape Weaver and Yellow Canary occur on the grounds. During your two-day stay at the Himeville Arms you will explore the surrounding high-altitude grasslands, alpine karoo and wetlands.
Night at Himeville Arms Hotel, Himeville
Himeville MAP 8
(1.) Drive northeast along the main paved road through Himeville for 8 kms. Here you will see a sign for Sani Pass. Scan the fields to the north (left) of the road for Wattled Crane (infrequent). Southern Crowned- & Blue Cranes are common. At the marsh are Black-necked Grebe, Grey & Black-headed Herons, Yellow-billed Egret, African Spoonbill, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Kingfisher, Yellow & African Marsh Warblers, Drakensberg Prinia (split from Spotted), Levaillant's Cisticola, Grassbird and various swallows. Malachite Kingfisher is possible. Scan the Pholela River from the bridge for African Black Duck and a reliable Half-collared Kingfisher which sits over the water near the larger trees to the south. Red-breasted Sparrowhawk and Gymnogene occur.
(2.) A few of the most localized South African endemics occur on the dramatic escarpment of rocky crags and on the Afro-alpine grasslands at Sani Pass. You must switch to 4WD to reach this pass on the highest plateau in Lesotho at an altitude of 10,000 feet, negotiating a winding, rough road that twists and turns up the precipitous face of the Drakensberg. Grasslands and agriculture will give way to craggy cliffs and open alpine meadows bisected by fast flowing streams. It is not unusual to see snow on the higher peaks in October. Turn left at 8 km where the pavement ends at the sign for Sani Pass. The road is dirt and often muddy but drivable with an ordinary car as far as the first border check (25 kms). Along the way look for the endangered Southern Bald Ibis in the higher pastures along the first stretch of road as well as at the summit. Stonechat and Wailing Cisticola occur in these pastures. A reliable site for Bush Blackcaps is found just past the old buildings between km stones 14-15. While playing a tape for this secretive species an African Goshawk may pass by. Malachite Sunbird and Gurney's Sugarbird feed in the large proteas between km stones 19-22. Only 4WD vehicles are allowed beyond the first border check where you must present your passport. Ground Woodpeckers are often seen sitting on the fence here. Be aware that both border crossings are only open between 7:00 am and 4:00 pm. Late - you sleep in your vehicle! There is a rough, precipitous climb with extreme switch backs from here to the Lesotho border (8 kms). As your vehicle rattles and jerks up to the higher reaches of this breathtaking mountain pass you will see Orange-breasted Rockjumpers hopping among the boulders. Once on top the road becomes extremely smooth-surfaced gravel. One wonders why this eight-kilometer stretch of road is not better maintained in a country with such an excellent road system? At Sani Pass you must present your passport once more to Lesotho Customs. Through the border you will immediately find Africa's highest pub at 9,498' which is reported to have good meals. Cape & Sentinel Rock Thrushes, Sickle-winged & Buff-streaked Chats, Cape Bunting and the cute Sloggert's Rat cavort around the buildings while Drakensberg Siskins perch on the waist-high stone partition encircling the pub. Predictably the weather here at the rim can be severe. Freezing temperatures with wind, fog, and at least some snow or rain is normal, while occasionally it can be sunny and hot. Drive another 8 kms looking for a culvert at a sharp-bend where Grey-winged Francolin, Ground Woodpecker, Red-capped & Thick-billed Larks, Fairy Flycatcher and Drakensberg Siskin should be found. (African) Rock & Mountain Pipits are found by flushing them as you walk across the rocky meadows.
(3.) Twenty-two kilometers from the pub (only one road) there is a dramatic cliff face, the nesting site of Bearded Vultures. Check the many whitewashes, the nest is about dead center. African Black Duck frequent the river below and (African) Rock Pipit can be taped from the surrounding rocky hillsides. Lanner Falcon, Spotted Prinia, Layard's Tit-Babbler and Streaky-headed Canary occur.
The following can be chartered for tours to Sani Pass:
Sani Pass Tours, Box 12, Himeville tel: (033) 702-1615; after hours tel. (033) 701-1080
Sani Pass Chalet - Touring, Box 195, Himeville tel: (033) 702-1069
Mokhotlong Mountain Touring, Box 12, Himeville tel: (033) 702-1615; their office is opposite the Himeville Arms Hotel
Four-wheel bus service
The cost of the above tours is unknown, but they are most likely expensive. Four-wheel drive mini vans visit Sani Pass from Underberg on a regular basis. Contact Underberg Travel tel: (033) 701-1466 who charge R45 one-way ($7.80 US); as they can often be fully-booked, be sure to contact them well-in-advance! Another bus is operated by Sani Pass Carriers tel: (033) 701-1017. 3oth of these buses most likely will pick you up in Himeville and travel only as far as the pub. Persuade the driver to take you the extra eight kilometers where you can find Mountain and (African) Rock Pipits; from there it is an easy eight-kilometer walk back 0 the pub. Perhaps arrangements can be made to drive the 22-kilometers to see both Bearded Vulture and (African) Rock Pipit, then quickly return to kilometer eight and walk back to the pub from there. As Bearded Vulture should be seen at Giant's Castle, and (African) Rock Pipit at other sites, travelling the 22 kilometers is not really a necessity.
Night at Himeville Arms Hotel, Himeville
Himeville to Nottingham Road
(4.) Today you will drive to the Natal Midlands, a captivating holiday region for South Africans, a region that has many outstanding B&B's and delightful craft shops. After some birding at the Pholela wetlands return to the Himeville Arms for breakfast then slowly make your way towards Kamberg Reserve and the Nottingham Road area. The drive from Himeville to Kamberg Reserve will take you along forty-eight kms of unpaved road and a further 10 kms of pavement (see small insert map for directions). Along the well-maintained dirt road scan for Stanley's Bustards. When you stop to admire these large birds displaying and strolling in the rolling pastures, listen for the flight song of Ayres' Cisticola cruising high overhead, a pleasing, continuous soo, see-see-see-see. Cape Vulture, Jackal & Steppe Buzzards and Lanner Falcon circle over the ridges, while Secretarybirds and Blue & Southern Crowned-Cranes dot the pastures. Stonechats sit here and there along the fenceline. As the road winds its way through the foothills of the Drakensberg, one leg climbs to higher elevation and through small patches of proteas with Gurney's Sugarbird. After driving 37.5 kms you will make a left turn. (If you continue straight-ahead (right) the road leads to Mzumba). The road here (partially paved in sections) crosses a flat grassy plain that periodically displays State Forest signs. Scan both sides of the road as this area is a reliable site for Black-winged Plovers; Hadeda Ibis, Wattled Crane, Rufous-naped Lark and Orange-throated Longclaw occur. After driving this ten-kilometer stretch, turn left at the sign for Kamberg onto pavement and drive ten kms to Kamberg Reserve "the" site for Wattled Crane. Scan the rolling farmlands carefully en route! Turn left onto the paved road at the reserve sign with the crane pictures and proceed 1/2 km to a dirt road on the right, an access road to view the marsh. South African Shelduck, African Marsh Harrier, Levaillant's Cisticola and Red-shouldered Widow are common. If the cranes are not seen, retrace your route back to the main road, turning left. Proceed north 2 kms scanning the fields. The 15-plus cranes will be found with perseverance. This lovely area of mixed farmland, forest, woodland and marshes harbours Red-breasted Sparrowhawk, Swainson's Francolin, Wailing & Lazy Cisticolas, Red-winged Starling, Greater Double-collared Sunbird and Golden-breasted Bunting.
(5.) If time permits you should visit Giant's Castle Game Reserve. Below the 10.000-foot-high Drakensberg escarpment Alpine & Black Swifts soar. Views up the valley are magnificent! Continue north from Kamberg Reserve along the paved road which is signed "Giant's Castle 24 kms" (again refer to small map for directions). Short-tailed Pipit occurs on grassy slopes to the left of the road leading to the camp. This secretive bird must be flushed to be seen. Swee Waxbill feed on the camp's lawn. Proteas in the vicinity harbour sunbirds and Gurney's Sugarbird. Set on the edge of a cliff near the camp is a comfortable stone building with one way glass windows - the "Vulture Hide" (bookings required at camp). Scattered offal and bones in early morning attract Lanner Falcon, Jackal Buzzard, Black Eagle, Cape Vulture, Black Crow, White-necked Raven, and the occasional Bearded Vulture. Buff-streaked Chat occur on the grassy slopes just above the camp along the trail that leads to the summit, while a hike to higher elevations will reveal Sentinel Rock Thrush, Sickle-winged Chat and (African) Rock Pipit in rocky habitat. Beyond the camp gate along the river path are Red-winged & Red-necked Francolins, Grassbird and Drakensberg Prinia in the long grasses.
(6.) From Giant's Castle retrace your route back through Kamberg Reserve to the corner signed "to Nottingham Road". Turn left and proceed 17 kms to the town of Nottingham Road. Once there, turn right onto paved Old Main Road (highway 103). If you wish to stay at the luxurious Rawdons Hotel it is situated on the right in two kilometers. If you did not visit Giant's Castle you should arrive at this fabulous accommodation at noon. A large trout pond along their entrance drive often has White-faced Luck, while Red-necked Francolin and Indian Myna occur on the property. The architecture of the hotel is that of all English-style country inn with thatched roofs and lead-paned windows. The twenty rooms in both the main house and the cottages are very popular which ensures that they are booked well-ahead, especially on weekends. After checking into your rooms pause for lunch and sample their excellent cuisine at the patio cafe before visiting the nearby mist forest patches. To reach the less-expensive Mulberry Hill Guest House proceed along highway 103 past Rawdons. Ten kms from Nottingham Road, turn left onto a dirt road. This road passes through a small but excellent patch of forest after 4-5 kms. Only a tiny portion of South Africa is covered by forest with these remnant patches of lowland and montane mist forests remaining here in KwaZulu Natal. The tall stinkwood and yellow-woods are a reliable site for both Blue-mantled Flycatcher and Chorister Robin. After driving 8 kms along the dirt road there is a junction with highway 3. Proceed over the overpass and after 1/2 km pavement resumes. Keep right to Curry's Post and continue an additional 4 kms (23 kms from Nottingham Road) to the signed entrance to the Mulberry Hill on your right. This delightful country guest house has excellent home-cooked meals, spacious rooms (the rooms without fireplaces are cool at night without heaters) and a beautiful garden that has nesting Cape & Spotted-backed Weavers, Red- throated Wryneck, Black-headed Oriole, Black Sunbird and Bronze Mannikin. Even Groundscraper Thrush has been seen on the lawns at dawn. Another forest patch can be found by retracing your route back to Curry's Post, turning left at the first dirt road after 2 or 3 kms. Park on the shoulder after driving an additional 1 km. A track leads east, or bird along the road itself. A visit to this cool, damp forest should produce Black & Little Sparrowhawks, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Rameron Pigeon, Knysna Lourie, Klaas's & Red-chested Cuckoos, Black Swift, Speckled Mousebird, Narina Trogon, Crowned Hornbill, Black-collared Barbet, Golden-rumped & Red-fronted Tinker Barbets, Olive Woodpecker, Black Saw-wing Swallow, Square-tailed Drongo, Southern Black Tit, Bush Blackcap, Terrestrial Bulbul, Cape Robin, Yellow-throated Warbler, Barratt's Warbler, Green-backed Bleating Warbler, Bar-throated & Yellow-breasted Apalis, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Dusky & (African) Paradise Flycatchers, Cape Batis, Southern Boubou, Puffback, Black-bellied Starling, Malachite, Olive, Collared & Lesser Double-collared Sunbirds, Swee Waxbill, and Yellow-eyed, Forest & Cape Canarys. The shy Olive Bush-Shrike is common here and responds to tapes. Chorister Robin and Blue-mantled Flycatcher occur. Tape for the robin at the shaded, right-angled bend in the road. Many of these species also can be found at the first patch
Night at Rawdons Hotel, Nottingham Road or the Mulberry Hill Guest House, Curry's Post
Nottingham Road - Curry's Post to Saint Lucia
Curry's Post to Mtunzini
Bird the mist forest at dawn before leaving the cool uplands for the warm and humid Zululand coast. After breakfast at Rawdons or Mulberry Hill you will drive 330-kilometers northeast to the coastal town of Saint Lucia for a two-night stay. A direct drive would only take four hours, but you should stop en route to visit the Raffia Palm Monument and Richard's Bay. From the Mulberry Hill Guest House return through Curry's Post to the highway 3 overpass (Exit 125), cross over and turn right onto the southbound lanes. From Rawdons turn left one-km, then turn right along pavement for 8 kms to the highway 3 entrance. Turn left onto the lanes for Pietermaritzburg. The drive through Pietermaritzburg to Durban is 105 kms. Once in Durban exit left from highway 3 onto highway 2 north, a simple manoeuvre.
Eshowe - Dhlinza and Entumeni Forests
(A) For this supplementary site, exit highway 2 onto highway 66 and drive north to Eshowe (26 kms). Although not on the birding circuit these forests harbour Delegorgue's Pigeon, Yellow-streaked Bulbul and Spotted Ground Thrush. The Dhlinza Forest Nature Reserve (open 7:30 am to 5 pm) is situated at the end of Kangelia Street on the western outskirts of Eshowe.
(B) The Ngoye Forest lies northwest of Empangeni for the adventurous seeking Green Barbet. From Empangeni drive north and west along highway 34. exiting left onto a paved road after 13 kms. Pavement ends after 6-8 kms and the unpaved road becomes a rough 4WD road near the forest (16 kms from highway 34). The Green Barbet is only found in the Ngoye Forest in South Africa (where it is common), but is not endemic, found farther north in Africa. The forest also harbours Delegorgue's Pigeon, Yellow-streaked Bulbul and Spotted Ground Thrush. Refer to African birding guides for precise directions
Mtunzini - Raffia Palm Monument
(7.) One-hundred and fourteen kms north of Durban, exit left off highway 2, then right over the overpass to Mtunzini. Turn right at the first residential street and scan the palms for Palmnut Vulture. Return to the main road into Mtunzini and proceed about one-km to the sharp curve to the left. Turn right here and wind through the village following the signs for the reserve. En route to a railway (1/2 km from the main road) you will make a right and left. Follow the dirt road left following the tracks past the railway station. Turn right again at the sign for the reserve to the parking lot (about 1 km from the main road). A short wooden boardwalk passes through a shady grove of palms where the Palmnut Vulture is found with perseverance. Great Egret, Woolly-necked Stork, African Fish Eagle, Black & Palm Swifts, White-eared Barbet, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Scaly-throated & Lesser Honeyguides. Blue-grey & Wattle-eyed Flycatchers and Forest Weaver occur. To scan the palms further, exit from the parking lot to the left and follow the dirt road back to the main road. Turn left onto pavement and follow the road around two bends back to highway 2, cross the overpass and right onto the northbound lanes.
(8.) From Mtunzini continue north along highway 2 for 36 kms and exit left at Empangeni. Turn right over the overpass and follow highway 34 (keeping left at the traffic lights after 5 kms) to the bustling commercial center of Richard's Bay. Bypass the first set of traffic lights with the confusing signs pointing in both directions to Richard's Bay and continue on highway 34 to the second set (about 15 kms from highway 2). The road to the left leads back to highway 2 via Arboretum which you will take after birding the area. Proceed a further 2-3 kms along highway 34 to the next set of lights. passing a huge log chip factory on your right. Turn right at the traffic lights onto Medway Street and proceed about 1.5 km until you see a large prison-like fence on the right at a sign for Richard's Bay Dockport. Turn right along the dirt road that follows the fence where you will soon see a large marsh on your right at the back of the log chip factory you passed earlier. Drive about 1 km to an access road down to the marsh edge. Black-necked Grebe. (African) Darter, Purple & Squacco Herons, Little Egret, Glossy Ibis, White-faced & White-backed Ducks, Hottentot Teal, (African) Pygmy Goose, African Fish Eagle, African Marsh Harrier, Purple Gallinule. Common Moorhen, Ruff, Black-winged Stilt, Grey-headed Gull, White-winged & Whiskered Terns, African & Lesser Jacanas, African Marsh Warbler, Yellow-throated Longclaw and Thick-billed & Southern Brown- throated Weavers occur. Tape near the dilapidated bird hide for Black-backed & Fan-tailed Cisticolas. From Richard's Bay it is a 13-km drive back to highway 2 and a further 37 kms to Mtubatuba. Proceed along highway 34, turning right through Arboretum to highway 2. Cross over the overpass and turn right onto the highway. Exit left at Mtubatuba and then right over the overpass onto highway 618. Proceed 25 kms following the signs to Saint Lucia. Check the telephone poles en route for Southern Banded Snake- & Long-crested Eagles.
(9.) There is a small lake to the east of highway 2 where reliable (African) Pygmy Geese and Lesser Jacanas are found. Turn around at Mtubatuba onto the southbound lanes of highway 2 and pull over when the lake comes into view (about 2 kms). Scan the lake from the road.
(10.) Just before crossing over the Saint Lucia River and into town there is a large expanse of reedbeds where Yellow & Southern Brown-throated Weavers are found. Red-breasted Swallows are often in the area. After crossing the bridge there is a guarded gate to pass through before entering town, a precaution against undesirables. Turn left onto McKenzie Street, then immediately right onto Beach Road. Continue two blocks turning right onto Kingfisher, then left to number seven Sandpiper Street. You should arrive at the cozy Lalapanzi Lodge at dusk. Although there are numerous accommodations to choose from in the tourist town of Saint Lucia, this Satour approved B&B is ideal with a forested park adjoining the property. Golden-rumped Tinker Barbet and Yellow Weavers frequent the garden where set breakfasts are served.
Night at Lalapanzi Lodge, Saint Lucia
(10.) Where Lake Saint Lucia enters the Indian Ocean there are dense coastal forests and estuaries and lakes that hold large numbers of waterbirds. The impenetrable, liana-choked dune forest in Saint Lucia's town park is home to 400 bird species (many shared with Mukuzi ). The town park is reached from the Lalapanzi Lodge by turning left from Beach Street onto Mc Kenzie Street and driving three blocks. [En route you will pass many excellent restaurants for your afternoon and evening meals].Turn left at the park sign and right onto Pelican Street into the park. Along the trails are Buff-spotted Flufftail, African Green Pigeon, Tambourine Dove, Livingstone's Lourie, Diederik & Klaas's Cuckoos, Green & Burchell's Coucals, Wood Owl, Palm Swift, Narina Trogon, Speckled Mousebird, Trumpeter & Crowned Hornbills, White-eared Barbet, Golden-rumped Tinker Barbet, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Lesser Striped & Black Saw-wing Swallows, Square-tailed Drongo, Southern Black Tit, Terrestrial, Sombre & Yellow-bellied Bulbuls, Yellow-spotted Nicator, Natal & Brown Robins, Yellow-throated & Willow Warblers, Green-backed Bleating Warbler, Rudd's & Yellow-breasted Apalis, Tawny-flanked Prinia, (African) Paradise, Blue-gray, Fan-tailed, Blue-mantled, Southern Black & Wattle eyed Flycatchers, Yellow White-eye, Woodward's Batis, Black-crowned Tchagra, Olive, Gorgeous & Orange-breasted BushShrikes, Puffback, Black-bellied Starling, Indian Myna, Grey, Purple-banded, Olive, Scarlet-chested & Collared Sunbirds, Thick-billed, Forest & Spectacled Weavers, Common Waxbill, Bronze & Red-backed Mannikins and Yellow-eyed Canary. Secretive Green Twinspots and Grey Waxbills occur along forest edges. Sugarloaf Jetty lies within the park where the inlet meets the sea. Small numbers of Pink-backed Pelicans may be seen as well as Caspian & Swift Terns, Grey-headed Gull, Pied Kingfisher and African Pied Wagtail. The small stand of reeds here attracts Yellow, Spotted-backed, and occasionally Golden Weavers. Brown-hooded Kingfisher can be found along the forest edge here.
The Natal Parks Board offers two-hour cruises tip the narrows to the lake three times a day in a 80-passenger boat. Eastern White & Pink-backed Pelicans (False Bay has a breeding colony), Goliath & Purple Herons, Yellow-billed Stork, Greater Flamingo, African Spoonbill, White-backed Duck, (African) Pygmy Goose, African Fish Eagle, Lesser Jacana (among lily pads), Red-winged Pratincole, Pied Avocet, White-winged Tern and Giant & Malachite Kingfishers should be encountered. If very fortunate you could see Saddle-billed Stork and the elusive African Finfoot along the inland waterways. Ask the proprietors of the Lalapanzi where you can get tickets.
(11.) From Beach Street turn right onto paved Mc Kenzie and drive 2 kms north to the Crocodile Centre and park gate. Several ~walking trails begin here. Just before reaching the centre a short road branches off on the right to a campground. On the left just before the guarded gate is a foot trail which leads out across a grassy field to the grass Air strip. Natal Nightjars frequent this area; play a tape here in the twilight hours - but beware of hippos and scan with your spotlight often! Pay the nominal fee at the gate where the road to Cape Vidal becomes well-maintained dirt. Stop after a few meters and check the grass Airport strip for Wattled Plover and possibly a courser. Five to seven kms from the gate the open grasslands have been planted with evergreen trees. About 0.7 kms before reaching the plantation a foot trail leads left into the grasslands where Fiery-necked Nightjars and an occasional Natal Nightjar will be found at dusk before the gates close. It is in this area that a reliable Brown Snake-Eagle holds territory. Woolly-necked and an occasional Yellow-billed Stork fly overhead. Along the 35 kms of road to Cape Vidal are a few depressions that hold small vegetated ponds. These damp grassy areas harbour (African) Darter, Squacco Heron, Great, Yellow-billed & Little Egrets, African Spoonbill, White-faced & White-backed Ducks, African Jacana, Common Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coot, Black
Crake, Burchell's Coucal, Brown-throated Martin and Yellow-throated Longclaw. Lucky birders may tape out the rare Pink-throated Longclaw. Black-bellied Korhaan occur. Beware of hippos! Rattling Cisticola are common, sitting on the overhead wires, while stops will produce the less common Croaking Cisticola (the heavy, black bill is the best I.D. feature). Reedbeds en route harbour Fan-tailed, Levaillant's & Black-backed Cisticolas. Once at Cape Vidal stop to eat your packed lunch. The heat of midday will ensure that the birdlife in the forest is inactive. Check the beach for Lesser Crested Tern and shorebirds. Check for nightjars just before the gates close. A visit to the park after supper could produce Wood Owl.
at Lalapanzi Lodge, Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia to Mkuze
(13.) After a pre-dawn nightjar excursion and a mornings walk in the park's forest, begin your drive north to Mkuze for a two nights stay. From Saint Lucia return along highway 618, turning northbound onto highway 2. Exit the highway after driving 50 kms and turn right (east) towards the town of Hluhluwe (1/2 km). Turn right onto the dirt road running north / south through town. The roadside weeds between 2-5 kms from town will hold Lemon-breasted Canary if there are seeds, but many Yellow-eyed Canarys will be seen first. Woolly-necked Stork, White-backed Vulture, Martial Eagle and Red-billed Firefinch occur. Return to highway 2 northbound
(14.) From Hluhluwe drive north 48 kms along highway 2, exiting left to the town of Mkuze. At the 1-stop gas station turn right over the overpass, then left on the paved road signed to the Ghost Mountain Inn. This luxurious hotel is on the right 1.5 kms from the junction. This will soon become your favourite accommodation in South Africa. Lesser Masked Weavers and Yellow-eyed Canarys perch overhead as you consume your luncheon on the patio. Overhead are Wire-tailed Swallows, while in the beautiful garden are Striped Kingfisher, White-fronted Bee-eater, Scarlet-chested Sunbird, Heuglin's Robin and Cape, Southern Masked & Spotted-backed Weavers. A tower overlooks a large reeded lake where Red-faced Cisticola breed. With 400 species recorded in Mkuze Game Park - stay a few days! You should arrive too early to check into your rooms so drive directly Mkuze Game Reserve until noon, returning for lunch during the heat of midday. Return to the park mid-afternoon, all day on the 20th and again on the morning of Day 21.
Night at Ghost Mountain Inn,Mkuze Town
(15.) Mid-morning you drive to the bird-rich bushveld of Mkuzi Game Reserve, considered the best birding site in South Africa. With an avifaunal list of 400 species, this microcosm of real Africa protects an amazingly wide range of habitats within a comparatively small area. Along the park's excellent roads you can bird grasslands with scattered trees, palm savanna, specialized sand forest, seasonal pans, marshes, papyrus swamps and lily-covered lakes. Mkuze is a procreation of how most people visualize Africa. The unforgettable landscape is strewn with rhinoceros, giraffe and herds of Impala strolling freely through lovely acacia woodlands. From the Ghost Mountain Inn, turn left to the Mkuze town/highway 2 junction. Keep left where pavement soon ends. After driving 10 kms along the somewhat rough road, turn left at the signed corner to the park (6 kms). The rocky hillsides covered in stands of flowering aloes as you approach the park harbour Mocking Chat.
Pay the nominal fee at the entrance gate which is open from sunrise to sunset. Wood Owl, African White-throated Robin, Willow Warbler, Brubru and Jameson's Firefinch frequent the campsite here. There is gas for sale. Just before the gates close, watch for the eyes and listen for the calls of Fiery-necked & Mozambique Nightjars between the gate and the main camp, the Mozambique especially in the first 4 kms of road near the gate. Night drives by the parks people may produce these nightjars and Bronze-winged Courser. Ask at the camp office. Visitors may only leave the protection of their vehicles in the precinct of the rest camp, at the five game viewing hides, and the self-guided 3 km- long Fig forest walk, but there are 100 kms of well-maintained dirt roads to drive and the sparse vegetation in the reserve (except in the sand forest) makes viewing easy. It is possible to exit your vehicle and stay nearby. Picnic sites are available at Nsumo Pan, Nxwala game viewing hide, and next to the reception area in the main camp.
After driving 10 kms from the entrance gate you will reach the main camp (Mantuma Camp). At the camp office/shop there are basic food supplies, soft drinks, checklists of the park's birds, books etc. Birding here is excellent with Greater Scimitarbill, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Fan-tailed & Southern Black Flycatchers, Chinspot Batis, Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike, Puffback, Yellow-throated Sparrow and Blue Waxbill. An early morning walk around the camp will find Eastern Bearded Robin, Purple-banded & Marico Sunbirds, and the difficult-to-observe Yellow-spotted Nicator. The main goal, however, is reaching the Tongaland Sand Forest as early as possible. Using the excellent map supplied at the gate arid following the signed roads from Mantuma Camp, turn right, then left after 1/2 km towards Kubube hide 3 km away. Park beside the washroom (flushing toilets) and walk 10 meters into the thick bush behind it. Play a tape for the elusive African Broadbill (Yellow-spotted Nicator and Eastern Bearded Robin occur here as well as ticks!). If unsuccessful, retrace your route back to Mantuma Camp turning right at the camp towards the Air strip. Drive 2.8 kms and tape again for the broadbill in this section of sand forest. Watch for the white flash as the broadbill leaps off its perch with each frog-like call.
Returning to Kubube hide search the area for the endemic Neergaard's Sunbird; Purple-banded & White-bellied Sunbirds also occur. Proceed a short distance to the Kumasinga hide which is still centered in sand forest. Playing a tape even in daylight at the parking lot will start the resident Barred Owl calling. Walk to the hide and with patience you will see the comical Crested Guineafowl, Red-eyed & Green-spotted Doves, Purple-crested Lourie and Kurrichane Thrush, among others, come to drink. The tall reeds at the rear of the hide contain nesting Thick-billed & Lesser Masked Weavers. Red-chested, Black, Diederik & Klaas's Cuckoos, Cardinal Woodpecker and Pink-throated Twinspot occur here.
Follow the signs 13.2 kms to Nsumo Pan. This large lake supports hippos and Nile Crocodiles as well as numerous waterbirds. From the viewing tower look for Goliath & Squacco Herons, Yellow-billed Egret. the occasional Black Egret, Yellow-billed & Open-billed Storks, African Spoonbill and Hamerkop which often feed below the platform. Others here include Spur-winged Goose, (African) Pygmy Goose, White-faced Duck, African Fish Eagle, Black-winged Stilt and Whiskered Tern. Water Dikkop rest on the muddy banks. In the scrub around the upper picnic area are Crested Francolin, Red-billed Woodhoopoe, White-browed Robin, Gorgeous Bush-Shrike and Pink-throated Twinspot. The Fig forest walk leads from the lakeside picnic area. This self-guided trail leads through a high canopy, riverine fig forest. Pel's Fishing-Owl is the main attraction, with African Green Pigeon, Green Coucal, Trumpeter Hornbill and White-eared Barbet.
A drive around the "Loop Road" through the savanna (open grassland with scattered thorn trees) should reveal White-backed, Lappet-faced & White-headed Vultures, and Wahlberg's, Lesser Spotted, Tawny & Martial Eagles, Bateleur, Steppe Buzzard and African Goshawk overhead, Southern Banded Snake-Eagle, Lizard Buzzard, Cuckoo Hawk, Black-bellied Korhaan, Brown-headed Parrot, Grey Lourie, Flappet Lark, Familiar Chat and Bushveld Pipit. Bushveld, a thick woodland of mixed broad-leafed and thorn trees covers much of the park where Brown Snake-Eagle, Purple-crested Lorie, Striped Kingfisher, Red-fronted Tinker Barbet, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Grey Penduline Tit, Three-streaked & Black-crowned Tchagras, Gorgeous & Grey-headed Bush-Shrikes and White Helmetshrike are found.
Kurrichane & Black-rumped Buttonquail, African Cuckoo, Burchell's Coucal, Black, White-rumped & Palm Swifts, Red-faced Mousebird, Brown-hooded & Pygmy Kingfishers, European, White-fronted & Little Bee-eaters, Lilac-breasted Roller, (African) Hoopoe, Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Black-collared & Crested Barbets, Greater & Lesser Honeyguides, Bearded Woodpecker, Red-breasted, Lesser Striped & Black Saw-wing Swallows, Black & Grey Cuckoo-Shrikes, Fork-tailed Drongo, Southern Black Tit, Yellow-bellied Bulbul, Heuglin's Robin, Stierling's Barred Warbler, Green-backed Bleating Warbler, Long-billed Crombec, Rattling Cisticola, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Mouse-coloured & Blue-grey Flycatchers, African Pied Wagtail, Glossy & Plum-coloured Starlings, Indian Myna, Red-billed Oxpecker, Grey, Olive & Collared Sunbirds, Spectacled & Yellow Weavers, White-winged Widow, Pin-tailed Whydah, Bronze Mannikin, Common Waxbill, Melba Finch and Golden-breasted Bunting will also be seen.
Night at Ghost Mountain Inn, Mkuze Town
Mkuze to Volksrust
(16.) Sadly you must leave the comforts of the Ghost Mountain Inn after a final morning of birding at Mkuze Game Park and drive up mice again into the chilly upland highveld. Driving north and west you climb up through farmlands and into the now-threatened high grasslands of the eastern Transvaal. Several uncommon and sought-after endemics are found on the rolling pasturelands or in the marshes north of the town of Wakkerstroom. Here you will bird rocky ridges, pristine grasslands, small lakes, marshy meadows and brushy gullies. From Mkuze drive northbound on highway 2 towards Piet Retief 167 kms away. En route check agricultural fields with weedy patches near Pongola for Orange-breasted Waxbill and Quail Finch. Others you might see especially around small reedy ponds are Grey-rumped Swallow, Red-billed Quelea, Red & Golden Bishops. Red-shouldered & White-winged Widows and Pin-tailed Whydah. From Piet Retief take paved highway 543 to Wakkerstroom and hence to Volksrust (112 kms) (279 from Mkuze). Ponds en route could produce Black Stork. At Volksrust highway 543 meets Laingsnek Street (highways 11 & 543) at a T" junction. Turn left and proceed to the town center. Turn right at the signs for highways 543 & 23 onto Joubert Street. Proceed through town passing the junction for highway 23 on your right. This is the road you will eventually take to Johannesburg. Proceed along highway 543 for 4 kms from the town center, turning right at the sign for the motel-like Stucky's Guesthouse. Black-shouldered Kite, Black Sparrowhawk, Wattled & Crowned Plovers, Spotted Dikkop, Swainson's Francolin, Red-throated Wryneck, Black Crow, Familiar Chat, Cape Robin, Indian Myna, Wattled Starling, Grey-headed Sparrow, Southern Masked Weaver and Common Waxbill occur on the property. Arriving at Stucky's mid-afternoon, check in~ your rooms, then quickly return to Wakkerstroom for a mid-afternoon of birding. Visit the marsh at dusk to observe the owls before returning for supper at Stucky's excellent restaurant. All of Day 22 will be spent around Wakkerstroom.
at Stucky's Guesthouse, Volksrust
(17.) Retrace your route eastwards along highway 543 to Wakkerstroom (26 kms). Pass through the small town, turning left onto the paved road at the sign for Amersfoort and "Wetland Reserve" at its eastern perimeter. [For those interested in staying at the Weaver's Nest B & B it is on the right a further 1 km east along highway 5431. Drive for 2 kms and stop on the roadside and scope the marsh with (African) Darter, Purple & Grey Herons, Little & Yellow-billed Egrets, African Spoonbill, Hamerkop. White-faced & Fulvous Ducks, possibly Maccoa Duck, Hottentot & Red-billed Teals, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard, Common Moorhen, Purple Gallinule, African Rail, Three-banded Plover, Curlew, Wood & Marsh Sandpipers, Ruff, Ethiopian Snipe, Common Greenshank, South African Cliff & White-throated Swallows, African Sedge Warbler and Fan-tailed & Levaillant's Cisticolas. Proceed up the road a half-km turning left onto a paved road signed "Wakkerstroom Station" at the marshes edge. After driving another half-km turn left onto the dirt road and park. At twilight scan over the grassy wetland when reliable Marsh Owls and an occasional Grass Owl will appear. Those most fortunate could possibly see a White-winged or Red-chested Flufftail. Playing a tape may reveal one of the tiny, ultra-secretive rails. From the marsh the road to Amersfoort becomes well-maintained gravel (as with all of the birding routes in this area). All roads have kilometer stones, the Amersfoort Road starting at km 50 at highway 543. At the 43.5 km post (i.e. 6.5 kms from highway 543) a road branches left. Check the rolling short-grass pastures 2-4 kms along this road for both Rudd's & Botha's Larks. Return to the Amersfoort Road and resume your northward journey watching for Steppe Buzzard and Lanner Falcon en route.
(18.) At the km 40 post the rolling, rough pastures on the left with the short grasses are excellent for Rudd's Lark. At km 37 the wet depression harbours Pale-crowned Cisticola (use a tape). Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Korhaan, Secretarybird and Rufous-naped Lark occur. At 31-32 a road branches left signed to Volksrust.
(19.) Proceed along the Amersfoort Road to the km 17 post. [A road branches right around the 27 km post. After travelling along this road for ten kilometers, turn right for an additional nine kilometers onto the wind-swept ridge above 4,500 ft. Yellow-breasted Pipit occur on the pastures. It is possible that rock-strewn ridges in this area harbour (African) Rock Pipit. The ridges of the pastures on the left at km 17 are slightly stoney, ideal for both Botha's & Pink-billed Larks, but the Pink-billed is more common. Banded Martin skim low over the fields. Make a "U" turn and return back to the km 31-32 post, turning right at the sign to Volksrust. A km 30 post begins this road which leads to highway 543 in thirty kilometers. At this corner there is a grassy slope that harbours Red-winged Francolin.
(20.) Stop just beyond the railway crossing and the 18 km post. The slightly stony rolling pastures on the left are excellent for Botha's Lark. At the 17 km post there is a junction, the right-hand road signed to Vlakpoort and our road signed for Volksrust. From here you can continue through to highway 543, a further 13 kms. Once at highway 543, turn right into Volkrust (2.4 kms). An alternative is to drive to the 12 km post and turn left onto the road which rejoins the Amersfoort Road at the km 43.5 post -hence completing a circular route back to Wakkerstroom. The distance from the 12 km post to Amersfoort Road is 14 kms. Other birds seen along this circular route include Spike-heeled & Red-capped Larks, Southern Anteating Chat, Stonechat, Grassveld Pipit, Orange-throated Longclaw, Red-shouldered & Long-tailed Widows, Quail Finch and Streaky-headed Canary The more rank grasslands anywhere along the loop may hold the erratic and nomadic Melodious Lark. The highest ridges harbour Long-billed Lark, Mountain Chat, Cloud & Ayres' Cisticolas and Yellow-breasted Pipit.
(21.) From Wakkerstroom drive towards Volkrust along highway 543. On the western edge of town, turn left at the sign "Wakkerstroom Farm Lodge". Keep right after 1 km onto the gravel road. Check the grasslands anywhere along this road with longer dry grass for Red-winged Francolin, while Swainson's Francolin will be seen in plowed agricultural land. After driving 6-7 kms there is a junction. Turn right to continue to Volksrust. You will keep left, continuing straight-ahead for 2 kms towards the Zaaihoek Dam. Stop at the bridge over the river. The rocky slope here harbours Ground Woodpecker, Buff-streaked Chat, Malachite Sunbird, Cape Canary and Cape Bunting. African Black Duck frequents the river. Return to the junction turning left towards Volksrust birding en route. After driving about 20 kms you will join the road which leads to Vtrecht (if you are coming from Volksrust this corner is signed "Zaaihoek Dam"). Turn right and drive 3-4 kms to highway 543. [if you are coming from Volksrust this corner is signed for "Vtrecht"). Turn left for Volksrust which is 6 kms away.
Volksrust to Johannesburg International Airport
After some final birding in the Volksrust area you will drive to Johannesburg to connect with the overnight flight to London. Leave after lunch as this drive should only take 2 1/2 hours and the plane does not leave until 10 pm.. Follow highway 23 northwest (see Volksrust) through Standerton to the junction with highway 3 at Heidelberg (175 kms). Follow signs north along highway 3 to Johannesburg (35 kms). Then follow signs to airport along highways 17, 12 and 24 (20 kms) (230 kms from Volksrust).
onboard South African Airways flight
After a brief layover in London, change planes in London and continue to your country of origin. After the eleven-hour flight to London you might consider staying overnight at the Ibis Heathrow and continue your flight home the next day.
Day onboard homebound flight or night at the Jbis Heathrow
Alternative day onboard homebound flight.
Taxonomic Notes on
South African Species
POSSIBLE FUTURE SPLITS~
Shy Albatross Diomedea
Grey-headed or Salvin's
Albatross D. salvini occurs and is occasionally considered a separate
Yellow-nosed Albatross Diomedea
Two forms occur the
white-beaded D.c. bassi and grey-headed D.c. chlororhynchos.
White-breasted Cormorant Phalacrocorax
The form of Great Cormorant
in South Africa is occasionally split off as P. lucidus.
Steppe Buzzard Buteo
This distinctive race of
Buzzard or Common Buzzard is possibly a good species.
Black-rumped Buttonquail Turnix
Occasionally split off as T.
nana using the same common name. T. hottentotta is then renamed
Short-toed Rock Thrush Monticola
The South African form is
occasionally split off as a separate species: Transvaal Rock Thrush M.
Pale-crowned Cisticola Cisticola
The South African form is
occasionally split off as a separate species C. cinnamomeus using the
name Pale-crowned Cisticola. C. brunnescens is then renamed
Fiscal Shrike Lanius
The southwestern form with
the white supercilIary may be a separate species Latakoo Fiscal Shrike L.
Black-headed Canary Serinus
The white-headed and
black-headed races could be looked at in the future as separate species
SOUTH AFRICAN SPECIES NAMED DIFFERENTLY OUTSIDE AFRICA
Known in Eurasia as Little
Black-necked Grebe Podiceps
North America as Eared Grebe.
Yellow-billed Egret Egretta
Usually known as Intermediate Egret.
Great White Egret Egretta
Usually known as Great Egret.
Bearded Vulture Gypactus
Usually known as Lammergeier.
Black Eagle Aquila
Usually known as Verreaux's
Known as Rock Kestrel in
Purple Gallinule Porphyrio
Usually known as Purple
African Rail Rallus
Usually known as African Water Rail or Kaffir Rail.
Red-winged Pratincole Glareola
Usually known as Collared Pratincole.
Swift Tern Sterna
Usually known as Crested
European Swallow Hirundo
Usually known as Swallow in
Europe or Barn Swallow in North America.
Fan-tailed Cisticola Cisticola
Also known as Zitting
Indian Myna Acridotheres
Also known as Common Myna.
Black Swift Apus
Not the same as the North
American species Cypseloides niger.
Thick-billed Lark Galerida
Not the same as the North
African species Rhamphocoris clothey.
(African) Rock Pipit Anthus
Not the same as the
Palearctic species A. petrosus.
Southern Anteating Chat Myrmecocichla
Occasionally called Anteating
Chat but there is a Northern Anteating Chat M. aethiops.
Three-streaked Tchagra Tchagra
Usually known as Brown-headed
Tchagra. Not the same as the East African species T. jamesi.
Not the same as the
Palearctic species P. xanthocollis.
OCCASIONALLY LUMPED SPECIES
Darter Anhinga rufa
Occasionally lumped with
Oriental Darter A. melanogaster using the name Darter for the enlarged species.
The resident form is
occasionally split off as Yellow-billed Kite but most authorities consider the
species one with Black Kite.
The name M. aegyptius and
incorrect name M. parasitus are applied to the Yellow-billed form.
Occasionally lumped with
Short-toed Eagle C. gallicus.
M. poliopterus of East Africa is occasionally lumped with this South African
Knysna Lourie Tauraco corythaix
Occasionally lumped with
Green Lourie T. persa
This species (also known
as T. reichenowi) is occasionally lumped with Knysna Lourie T. corythaix and
Green Lourie T. persa.
Coucal Centropus burchelli
Occasionally lumped with
White-browed Coucal C. superciliosus using the name Burchell's Coucal for the
Scops-OwI Otus senegalensis
Occasionally lumped with
European Scops-OwI 0. scops using the name Common Scops-OwI for the enlarged
African Hoopoe Upupa
Occasionally lumped with
Eurasian Hoopoe U. epopss using the name Hoopoe for the enlarged species.
Occasionally lumped with the
northern form, Yellow-billed Hornbill T. flavirostris.
Black Saw-wing Swallow
Occasionally lumped with Blue
Saw-wing Swallow P. pristoptera using the name Black Saw-wing Swallow for
the enlarged species.
Southern Grey Tit Parus
The Grey Tit (also known as
Somali Tit, P. thruppi) of East Africa is occasionally lumped with this
Drakensberg Prinia Prinia
Occasionally lumped with
Spotted Prinia P. maculosa.
Grassveld Pipit Anthus
Occasionally lumped with
Australasian Pipit A. novaeseelandiae using the name Richard's Pipit for
the enlarged species.
Sparrow Passer diffusus
Occasionally lumped with
Grey-headed Sparrow P. griseus.
RECENTLY SPLIT SPECIES
Southern Crowned- Crane Balearica
Crowned Crane split into two
species: Northern Crowned-Crane B. pavonina.
Northern Black Korhaan Eupodotis
Black Korhaan split into two
species: Southern Black Korhaan E. afra.
Long-tailed Pipit Anthus
Known only from the Kimberley
region in the austral winter.
Barlow's Lark Certhilauda
Details unknown: Possibly
split from the Namaqualand race of Karoo Lark Certhilauda albescens, occurring
around Port Nolloth.
Identification Features of Difficult Species
The illustration in
"Birds of Southern Africa" is not as accurate as that in Harrison's
"Seabirds of the World". This dull brownish-black cormorant can be
separated from the abundant dark-breasted immature Cape Cormorants in having an
angular head shape and heavy bill similar to North American's Brandt's Cormorant
P. penicillatus. Cape Cormorants have a rounded head and more needlelike
This cormorant is small and
dumpy with a short tail. A "cute" cormorant showing a small frontal
crest. The face can appear more orange on some individuals than illustrated in
"Birds of Southern Africa".
The south-west Cape race is
illustrated very well in "Birds of Southern Africa" with the bill
shape and thickness correct. The fully-streaked breast, grayish coloration,
white supercilium and throat and breast ground-colour are good identification
Barlow's Lark has recently
been split, possibly from the Namaqualand race of this species.
The dune form is illustrated
very well in "Birds of Southern Africa" with the bill shape, thickness
and coloration correct. The densely-streaked breast, virtually unmarred reddish
coloration and white supercilium, throat and lower breast are good
identification features. Its dune habitat and distinctive song are further clues
in separating this large lark from the karoo form of Karoo Lark.
The north-eastern form is illustrated very well in "Birds of Southern Africa" with the bill shape and thickness and curvature correct. A very large lark with the jizz of a North American Toxostoma thrasher (long decurved bill, stop-and-go actions and upright stance). This form has a rusty mantle and slight streaking on the upper breast.
Illustrated very well in
"Birds of Southern Africa" with the bill thickness correct. There is a
slight curvature to the bill with an obvious pink-base to the lower mandible,
this being one of the better features to use in identifying this species.
Illustrated very well in "Birds of Southern Africa", however, the bill is larger than illustrated in the small-billed form. The first impression that the small-billed form gives is that of a North American sparrow with a hi-coloured bill (the lower mandible being paler). The very broad black streakings to the mantle create a dark-backed appearance. The crown is also heavily-streaked which gives a capped look which is further enhanced by a white supercilium that runs around the nape. The white throat contrasts sharply with this dark streaking and the warm, dark ochre wash on the breast. In the large-billed form the bill is "box" shaped, appearing very broad and long.
Illustrated fairly well in "Birds of Southern Africa", but the bill is thicker, appearing somewhat heavy and pale. This lark is quite variable but the rufous-coloured primaries are an excellent field-mark on resting birds. This a very pale "fawn" lark with a slightly-streaked, almost immaculate white breast. This species occasionally has a pale rusty-fawn cap which is not as distinctive as that on Red-capped Lark.
The eastern form is illustrated very well in "Birds of Southern Africa", however, I never had the opportunity to study it well enough to comment on the bill shape. This lark is unmistakable with its bushy crest. A large rusty-coloured lark with a dark rusty breast.
Illustrated fairly well in
"Birds of Southern Africa". An unmistakable lark with its obvious
red-ochre cap and pectoral patch and very white underparts.
Illustrated very well in
"Birds of Southern Africa", but the upright stance is less obvious.
The white supercilium and lures are obvious but the distinctive separation of
these as illustrated is very difficult to discern. The dark cap with the buff
stripe through the centre is notable. Observed from the back, the mantle has a
dark appearance with obvious pale fringes to each feather and the pencil-thin
tail is certainly unique.
Illustrated fairly well in "Birds of Southern Africa", but the bill is thicker and it possess a more distinct facial pattern. Once you have seen the Pink-billed Lark it gives the impression of a "washed out" version of that species. Botha's has an obvious thin dark line running across the cheek from the gape. This "dumpy" lark is best found by flushing. The darker mantle (not as dark as illustrated) and white outer-tail feathers easily separating it from the more common Pink-billed Larks present in the same habitat.
Illustrated poorly in "Birds of Southern Africa". This species has strong streaking on the upper breast similar to that found on Botha's Lark. The ground-colour of the breast and mantle is correct as is the distinctive white throat and heavy pink bill. This species has a bold facial pattern with double moustachial lines. Centered between these are tiny white areas which contrast with the buff cheeks. As in Botha's, a dark line also runs from the gape across the cheek.
Illustrated very well in "Birds of Southern Africa" especially the head. The slight upturn to the bill is quite obvious as well as the facial "tear drop". The breast is less buffy more variable than illustrated. Watch for the white-edged tail as the lark is flushed from its habitat of barren plains scattered with small stones.
Illustrated poorly in
"Birds of Southern Africa". A small and dumpy lark with a very short
tail. The ground-coloration of the mantle is similar to that on the Horned Lark Eremophila
alpestris and the head with the crest erected is Sky Lark-like Alauda
arvensis. The sides of the breast are cool-grey and contrast strongly with
the warm, very pale tones elsewhere on the breast and belly. The bill is more
conical (more correctly illustrated in the pale form). This "cute"
lark's habits are distinctive. It runs quickly, stops a short time, then runs
again to resume this action over and over again.
NOTES ON IDENTIFICATION FEATURES OF DIFFICULT SPECIES
Illustrated very well in
"Birds of Southern Africa". An unmistakable lark that gives the
impression of having lost its tail. It has a very thin decurved bill and is
rufous-coloured overall with a distinct white throat. Its upright stance is
notable. In flight it gives a "tin-whistle" call with the tail
displaying white spot-like tips.
Illustrated very well in
"Birds of Southern Africa". A very distinctive cisticola with a
prominent rusty secondary-patch and pale unmarked head with dark lores. Its
habitat is of damp areas lying within highland pastures.
Ayres' & Cloud
Both of these small cisticolas were never seen well and both were identified by song.
Illustrated very well in
"Birds of Southern Africa". A small, fairly long tailed cisticola that
is identified via the contrast between its cool-grey back and unstreaked
buffy breast. The similarly sized Grey-backed Cisticola is dull throughout with
a grey hack and is found in different habitat; the Wailing in rolling pastures.
the Grey-backed in fynbos and karoo scrub. The song is a "vibrating"
sound, a drawn-out wheee.
Illustrated well in
"Birds of Southern Africa" except that the most obvious character is
the heavy "boxy" black bill (not bi-coloured as in illustration).
Other notable identification features are the rufous secondary-patch, shortish
tail with a black band on the underside, large size, crown stripes (less obvious
than in illustration), dark centres to tertials and supercilium that is less
obvious than illustrated. The mantle is in variable tones of grey. The call is
distinctive and frog-like.
Illustrated fairly well in
"Birds of Southern Africa". A large nondiscript, fairly long-tailed
cisticola with a heavy bill that is usually bi-coloured but occasionally dusky.
The most obvious feature is the cold grey sides of the breast which contrast
with the overall warm buff coloration. The head can appear quite rusty against
the cool-grey mantle streaking. It sings a distinctive song that ends in a low
Illustrated well in
"Birds of Southern Africa" but the ground-colour of the breast and
fringes of the feathers of the mantle are distinctly warmer and more deeply rich
ochre in colour. The bill is thinner than illustrated. The call note heard was
single and robust (noted to be similar to Grassveld's).
Illustrated reasonably well in "Birds of Southern Africa"; see the illustration by Lars Jonsson in "Birds of Europe". This pipit appears more streaked than illustrated thus confusion with Mountain Pipit is possible. however, this species lacks the deeply rich ochre colour of that species, especially on the mantle-fringes. The lower mandible can be pink or yellow.
Illustrated fairly well in
"Birds of Southern Africa". The habit of stopping briefly with an
occasional tail-wag between walks
will help to identify this nondiscript species. A very pale pipit with a fairly
heavy bill that has a pink base to the lower mandible. The call heard was of
three single identical notes which could have been a series of the sshik notes
of this species.
There is no illustration in "Birds of Southern Africa" of this newly-described species found in green fields surrounding Kimberley.
(African) Rock Pipit
Illustrated very poorly in "Birds of Southern Africa". The breast is paler than illustrated with fine streaks, similar to the breast pattern and colour displayed on North America's Rock Wren Salpinctes obsoletus. The supercilium is paler. This species appears more like the breeding plumage of the Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta illustrated in "Birds of Europe" without the mantle streaking and the area of white below the auricular. The plain brownish back and skulking habits within its rocky habitat will help to identify this pipit.
Illustrated very poorly in "Birds of Southern Africa". Refer to "A Guide to the Sparrows and Buntings of North America and the World".
TRAVEL EXPENSES IN US DOLLARS
(per person including taxes)
Cape Town-Durban: Free if you
take SAA International flight
South African Airways London
(0171) 312-5000; Toronto 1-800-387-4629 serves from London to Johannesburg
Flights leave Heathrow at
10:00 pm, arriving in Johannesburg at 9:20 am. Return flights leave Johannesburg
9:35 pm, arriving at Heathrow
at 6:30 am. South African Airways also serves domestic
flights although these flights
are cheaper through Phoenix Airlines
A day of rest at the Ibis Heathrow in London en
route to Johannesburg and again returning is advised after the
eleven-hour flight. The early
morning connection from Johannesburg to Kimberley, means you do not require a
Johannesburg after your
flight from London (i.e. arrival is 9:20 am at Johannesburg airport). After
landing at Kimberley
you can go directly to the Diamond
Protea Lodge to sleep that morning/early afternoon.
SHUTTLE to / from Heathrow airport to Ibis Hotel $3.25 one- way each $6.50
per unit/double nightly
including taxes; all have air-con where required)
have restaurants except the Lalapanzi Lodge who only serve breakfast)
Ibis Heathrow, London Bath
Rd. 3 km NE airport tel: (181) 759-4888
Diamond Protea Lodge, Kimberley: tel (0531) 81 1281
Augrabies Falls National Park
tel: (012) 3 432-007
Pofadder Hotel, Poffader
tel: (054) 933
Belmont Hotel, Ceres
(B & B) (ask for fax when phoning)
tel: (027) 233 21150
Marine Protea Hotel, Lambert's
Bay tel: (027) 432 1126
City Lodge Pinelands, Cape
Town (set breakfasts $5)
tel: (021) 685-7944
Oribi Gorge Hotel, Oribi
Gorge (phone Paul or Karen Jefferys) tel: (039) 687 0253
Ingeli Forest Lodge, Harding/Kokstad
tel: (039) 553 0600
Himeville Arms Hotel,
Himeville (B&B; beaters; restaurant)
tel: (033) 702 1305
Rawdons Hotel, Nottingham
Road (B&B; restaurant, heaters)
tel: (0333) 360 44
Mulberry Guest House, Curry's
tel: (0332) 305 921
Saint Lucia (B&B; air-con?)
tel: (083) 379 5247
Ghost Mountain Inn,
Mkuze Town (all set meals are $10.40)
tel: (035) 573 1025
Stucky's Guesthouse, Volksrust
($55, B&B $75
tel: (1773) 52 808
Protea Hotels have Toll-free
Hout Bay; Bluefin
Charters, $682.50 for 6 pers for 11 hrs
tel: (021) 783-1756
Simon's Town: Neptune
Deep Sea Angling, 24ft boat day charter
tel: (021) 782-3889
tel: (021) 788-1898
II. for large groups only
( about 7.000 km of driving expected; no mileage or drop off charges)
Car rental lots in South
Africa are conveniently located within walking distance of the terminals.
Avis & Budget have offices at Kimberley, Cape Town and Durban airports. These
rentals cost $156.00 week,
plus $186.70 insurance.
USA & Canada
tel: (021) 934-0808
Kimberley tel: (0531) 851-1082/3
tel: (031) 408-1282
day tour with Sani Pass Tours (see Addresses for info)
A litre of gas costs 1.50 Rand (7,000 km at 35 km to gallon = 800 litres
@ $17.70 US)
3.60 Rand for car per 10 km (300 km of toll-roads maximum)
Allow $20.80 each per day at 24 days
SOUTH AFRICA AND HEATHROW: HOTEL AND TOUR ADDRESSES
Diamond Protea Lodge, 124
Du Toitspan Road, Kimberly, Northern Cape
Upington Protea Hotel, 24
Schroder Street, P.O. Box 13, Upington 8800, Northern Cape
Augrabies Falls National
Park chalets, write: Reservations, National
Park Board, Box 787, Pretoria 0001, Gauteng
Pofadder Hotel, Voortrekker
Street, P.O.Box 3.8890, Poffader, Northern Cape
Belmont Hotel, Porters
Street, Ceres 6835, Western Cape
Marine Protea Hotel,
P.O. Box 1, Voortrekker Street, Lambert's Bay 8130, Western Cape
City Lodge Pinelands, FO
Box 124 Howard Place 7450, Mowbray, Cape Town, Western Cape
Oribi Gorge Hotel, Oribi
Gorge Nature Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal
Ingeli Forest Lodge,
Private Bag X502, Kokstad 4700 KwaZulu-Natal
Himeville Arms Hotel,
Arbuckle Street, P.O. Box 105, Himeville 4585, KwaZulu-Natal
Old Main Road (R103) P.O. Box 7, Nottingham Road 3280, KwaZulu-Natal
Mulberry Guest House, P.O.
Box 118, Howick 3290, Kwa-Zulu-Natal
PO Box 331, Saint Lucia 3936, Kwa-Zulu-Natal
Ghost Mountain Inn, Old
Man Road, RO Box 18. Mkuze 3965, KwaZulu-NataI
Stucky's Guesthouse, RO.
Box 181, Volksrust 2470, Mpumalanga
Horseshoe Motel, RO.
Box 635, Kimberley 8300, Northern Cape tel: (0531) 3 1751
Oasis Protea Lodge, 26
Schroder Street, P.O. Box 13, Upington 8800, Northern Cape tel: 1-800-323-3210
Holiday Inn Garden Court, Johannesburg
- Airport 6 Hulley Road, Isando, Gauteng
Holiday Inn Garden Court
Sandon, corner of Katherine &
Rivonia Roads, Gauteng
Veldriff, Lambert's Bay
Raston Guest House, Lambert's
Bay, Western Cape tel: (027) 432-2431
Langebaan Lodge, RO.
Box 25, Langebaan 7357, Western Cape tel: (02287) 2144
Janes Guest House, 8
Beach Road, RO. Box 635, Saldanha 7395, Western Cape
tel: (02281) 4 3605
Saldanha Bay Protea Hotel,
51 B Main Street, P.O. Box 70, Saldanha
Bay 7395, Western Cape tel: (02281) 4 1264
Holiday hen Garden Court, Mill
St., Gardens PO Box 2793, Cape Town 8000, Western Cape tel: (021) 45 1311
Cape Swiss Hotel, CNR
Kloof & Camp Sts.,Gardens PO Box 21516, Cape Town 8000, Western Cape
tel: (021) 23 8190
Holiday Inn Garden Court, Main
Rd., Newlands, Cape Town 7700, Western Cape tel: (021) 61 1105
7143, Ceres, Northern Paarl 7623 tel: (02211) 638-334
Weaver's Nest Guest House, Plot 62, PO Box 329, Wakkerstroom 2480,
tel: (017730) 0115
Nottingham Road - Giant's
Castle Game Reserve
Two luxury lodges.
Reservations KwaZulu-Natal Parks Board, Private Bag X9024, Pietermaritzburg 3200 tel: (0331) 94 6696
Sani Pass Hotel &
Leisure Resort, Sani Pass Road, P.O.
Box 44, Himeville 3256, KwaZuIu-Natal tel: (033) 702-0220
Ramsgate / South Broom
Country Lodge (along
coast south of Durban) tel: (03931) 78 380
Sani Pass Tours, Box
12, Himeville after hours tel: (033) 701-1080 tel: (033) 702-1615
Sani Pass Chalet - Touring Box 195, Himeville, tel: (033) 702-1069
Touring, Box 12, Himeville office
opposite Himeville Arms Hotel tel: (033) 702-1615
Per room double location
Distance from airport Per room double
location Distance from airport
Sheraton Skyline Hotel 75£ Bath Rd 2 NE Ramada Heathrow 85£ Bath Rd 5E
Crowne Plaza Heathrow 169£ Stockly R 3N Sheraton Heathrow 75£ Colnbrook 3 3NW
Quality Hotel Heathrow 52£ London Rd 8NW Marriot Heathrow 114£ Slough UK 10NW
Ibis Heathrow 54£ Bath Rd 3NE Jarvis International 119£ Bath Rd 3NE
Novotel London 95£ Cherry Lane 3N Edwardian Int Plaza 145£ 140 Bath Rd 2N
Excelsior Hotel 75£ Bath Rd 2N Posthouse Heathrow 65£ Bath Rd 3NE
Heathrow Park Hotel 89£ Bath Rd 3NW Shepperton Moat 39£ Felix 10S
Heathrow Hilton 99£ Terminal Four 2SW Fortecrest Heathrow 69£ Sipson Rd W 3N