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A Report from

South Africa - The Cape to Mkuzi, 20th November - 8th December 2003,

James Eaton


With 2 weeks to spare at the end of November/early December two of us decided on a stint around South Africa, concentrating on the main reserves to visit for endemic and specialised birds and also for mammals. This time period offers great birding in the southern hemisphere due to it being their late Spring/early Summer, so many of the birds are in full song and in breeding plumage, with also many northern hemisphere wintering here, enabling a massive amount of bird species to be seen in a two week time scale of anything between 300-480 birds to be expected.

We recorded around 440 species, of which a high majority were new to me, having not previously birded in Africa. Allowing many new families to be recorded too. Overall birding was relatively easy going, around the Cape, most endemics can be picked up with ease, as they are either common or approachable. Birding in Natal proved trickier, especially around the game reserve of Mkuzi as they had suffered from a severe drought making many of the birds scarce or absent. Apparently quite a few Elephants had died due to the weather conditions. Forest birding was quite easy here too, with many birds in song. Birding was nowhere near as difficult as Asian forest birding. A beauty of covering such a large area like South Africa is the different variety of habitats encountered, allowing such a mix of birds and a higher total.

South Africa is a great place to start off your African birding as its infrastructure is advanced, most people speak English of some degree, hotels are clean, comfortable and not too pricey. Most sites are easily reached with a car, of which you drive on the left too. We always felt safe; none of the sites we visited were regarded as unsafe, with only petty theft any concern, which we didn't experience. Obviously we helped this by hiding all valuables in the boot.

We used four vehicles in all, a Nissan Almera for the first visit to the Cape, which was adequate, nothing more is needed for this area, though if money is no object a high clearance vehicle is useful. For Sani Pass we used our friend's 4x4 Isuzu, which is a must for here, as the authorities may not let you enter the pass without a 4x4. For the rest of Natal we used a Toyota Condor. This is a high clearance 6 seater, which proved very successful, we would have missed several birds without this and is great for better views of Bustards, Larks and Mammals which will feed in long grasses. This was a great deal more expensive, but worth every penny in the end, and we would probably of hired this for the Cape too given hindsight. For the return leg of the Cape we hired a Toyota Corolla salon, which was surprisingly good. Petrol was obviously cheaper than home, at around 35p a litre for unleaded and diesel.

The currency, the rand, was still in a poor state at our visit, though not as bad as it had been, working out at 10.9 rand to the pound. If it continues to strengthen though prices will soon prove to be expensive at an international level, rather than just at a local level.


20th November - Depart Birmingham International to Cape Town, via Frankfurt and Jo'bourg

Day 1 - 21st November - arrive mid afternoon. Visit Kommetjie and Simon's Town. Night at Afton Grove, Noordhoek.

Day 2 - 22nd Nov. Morning - Constantia Greenbelt and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Early lunch to watch England beat ozzies in Rugby. Afternoon - Rooi Els, Bettys Bay and St Lowry's Pass. Night at Afton Grove.

Day 3 - 23rd Nov. Pelagic from Simon's Town. Late afternoon visit to Strandfontein Sewage Works. Night at Afton Grove.

Day 4 - 24th Nov. Early morning drive to De Hoop, via St Lowry's Pass and De Mond. Night at Swellendam.

Day 5 - 25th Nov. De Hoop and Overberg Farmland Loop. Arrive back in Cape Town mid afternoon via Strandfontein Sewage Works to catch flight to Durban. Night in Kloof.

Day 6 - 26th Nov. Drive up Sani Pass into Lesotho. Night at Sani Pass Chalet, Lesotho.

Day 7 - 27th Nov. Descend Sani Pass. Afternoon visit to Xumeni Forest. Night in Kloof.

Day 8 - 28th Nov. Long drive to Wakkerstroom, via Melodious Lark site. Afternoon around Wakkerstroom wetlands. Night at Weavers Nest, Wakkerstroom.

Day 9 - 29th Nov. Meet Birdlife guide for morning at Wakkerstroom lark fields. Afternoon drive to Mkuzi. Night at Ghost Mountain, Mkuzi.

Day 10 - 30th Nov. All day around Mkuzi. Night at Ghost Mountain.

Day 11 - 1st Dec. Early morning visit to Fig Forest, Mkuzi. From midday with Birdlife guide to Muzi and Cezwana Pans. Then onto Hluhluwe-Umfolozi. Night drive at Hluhluwe. Night at Hilltop, Hluhluwe.

Day 12 - 2nd Dec. Morning at Hluhluwe, then through Umfolozi for afternoon. Late afternoon drive to St Lucia. Night at St Lucia

Day 13 - 3rd Dec. Morning at St Lucia then onto Eshowe, via Mtunzini and Richard's Bay. Night at George Hotel, Eshowe.

Day 14 - 4th Dec. Day with Birdlife guide, visiting Dreadnought Farm, Dlinza and Ongoya Forests. Late afternoon flight from Durban to Cape Town. Night at City Lodge, Cape Town.

Day 15 - 5th Dec. West Coast National park, via Darling and Cerebos Salt Pans. Drive to Ceres. Night at Belmont Hotel, Ceres.

Day 16 - 6th Dec. All day on Tanqua Karoo. Night Belmont Hotel, Ceres.

Day 17 - 7th Dec. Paarl Bird Sanctuary then quick visit to Kirstenbosch before catching afternoon flight to Birmingham International, via Jo'bourg and Munich.


I used a number of very helpful trip reports, which I accidentally left at Durban airport on day 5! The usual books were used too, with Sasol being a huge improvement on the poor illustrations shown in the Newman's/Sappi field guide.


Sasol, Birds of Southern Africa. 3rd Edition.
Sappi/Newman's, Birds of Southern Africa. 7th Edition
Cohen and Spottiswoode. Essential Birding.
The Rough guide to South Africa, Lesotho & Swaziland
Chittenden, H. Top Birding Spots in Southern Africa

Trip Reports

Bamford, Paul. South Africa, Oct-Nov 2001
Barnes, Keith. South Africa. Oct-Nov 2002
Dempsey, John. Kwazulu-Natal. Aug 2003
Duff, Andrew. South Africa. Aug-Sept 2001
Heylen, Wim and co. South Africa. Nov-Dec 2002
Hunter, Mike. Kwazulu-Natal, Tansvaal Oct 2000
Olioso, Georges. Cape Province. Sept-Oct 1997
Pritches, Adrian and co. South Africa. Nov-Dec 2002
Wallace, Greame. South Africa. Nov-Dec 2002
Unknown. South Africa. Sept-Oct 2000

These were available mainly from and though some were also private. A good site to try is as this allows you to search through numerous websites for all trip reports. I may have missed some out, but this is only because I do not have them in hand anymore, having left them at Durban airport


The above websites were useful for the trip reports, but South Africa is blessed with some excellent birding websites. The following proved great reading, sorry for missing some out!

The following addresses allow access to the extremely helpful bird forums of the area, allowing you to get up to date information from the local birders


Cape Area

The Cape area doesn't need too much explaining, as Essential Birding covers all the sites we visited, in fact, it was this book that decided our whole itinerary in this area, making few detours, as the sites shown gave us most of our birds.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

This site is excellent for many of the commoner endemics found around the Cape, and, as the birds are so used to people, they allow a very close approach. The gardens are found on the slopes of Table Mountain, so a constant eye above the gardens will produce plenty of raptors, mainly Steppe Buzzards. We covered most of the garden in a morning, and not much more was really needed due to how easy most of the birds are to see here. The Braille Trail produced most of the more reluctant birds, and then a walk up the gardens to the Fynbos and Protea Garden proved good, easy, birding. Either car park is worth parking in.

This site is best combining with the Constantia Greenbelt. An early morning visit here should produce Knysna Warbler; we went to site 4 in Essential Birding as we were told this was a better site. Please don not use tape too much here, the birds do come in after just one play of the song, but patience is required. Buff-spotted Flufftail was heard here too, good luck in finding them though! I tried unsuccessfully to tape one out here, the undergrowth just being too thick here.


Contact any of the above web address for Cape Town area here to book a seat, on what was a highlight of the trip, especially for the photographer in you! One word of advice here, do not reach for your camera at the first site of an albatross, be patient and wait for a trawler, or birds sitting on the sea, as then you will get mega close views of all the birds passing slowly as they look for scraps.



A useful stop to sort out your cormorants, with hundreds of Terns present too, sadly too late for Antarctic Tern, just park in the carpark by the rocky outcrop in the village and walk out onto the rocks.

Rooi Els

Easy enough to find the site, though perhaps instead of walking along the track, walk above the track along the rocky hilltop for Rockjumper, as we didn't even hear them here, though I have since been told there are 3 pairs along the track! Take plenty of water and travel light here, as you can easily just keep on walking here, forgetting that you have to walk back and do the same over again!

St Lowry's Pass

A great place, if it isn't too windy! Park in the car park, and then walk along the ridge, so you are looking down onto the hill, we soon located the Rockjumpers here, a quick play of the tape had them running straight to us! Great entertainment, and great for photographing, Otherwise a quiet place, we found Victorin's Warbler over 1km further along the track, in the first decent bit of fynbos, sadly it was very windy and we only managed to locate one singing bird, a real skulker.

Kwazulu - Natal

Sani Pass

Two excellent days were spent birding in this area, we left at just gone dawn to arrive at the base of Sani Pass 2 hours after dawn. Just as you come to the base of the Pass you shall notice a small wetland on the left, this had several Whiskered Terns and waders on it, and this provided us with some great views of Cape Vulture just by scanning the skies, well worth a 30 minute stop. Continuing up the road it's worth stopping anywhere for a quick scan, as the habitat subtly changes further up you go. Our main first stopping point, the RSA border post held our first Barratt's Warblers, 30 metres below the stop, in the thicket on the left, they respond to tape, but seem to stay away from the tape. Once through the border look out for Bush Blackcap anywhere along the thicket covered stream, these respond very well to tape, flying straight to you, making them very easy to pick up. Our big dip here was Gurney's Sugarbird, no idea how we managed to miss them, but we did, so frustrating. Eventually you come to the obvious zig zags in the road near the top of the Pass, look and listen for Orange-breasted Rockjumper here, a fine male walked across the road when we were on our descend here!

At the Lesotho border post look out for Drakensberg Sisken in the garden, but especially behind the chalet, as they put out seed for them, here we had incredible views of 20+ birds along with Cape Sparrow, a single Southern Grey-headed Sparrow and a Cape Weaver! Drive into Lesotho and scan for Mountain Pipit along the plain, though they can be hard to see without them displaying. Sentinal Rock Thrush and Sickle-winged Chat were common place around here anyway and as you approach the bushes look out for Fairy Flycatcher and Layard's Tit Babbler. The next big hill you go over was the best place for the Rockjumpers, several seen either side of the top.

We found the easiest way to see both African Rock and Mountain Pipit was to walk NE from the chalet early morning, where we found both species displaying within a few hundred yards of the chalet.

A stay at the Chalet is something not to be missed, we witnessed the most incredible, 3+hour thunderstorm I shall ever see, food was good and the beer flowed most of the night! One of the highlights of the trip.

Xumeni Forest, Donnybrook

Directions were straightforward by using Top Birding Spots in South Africa, Chittenden, though we followed it back to front as we spent the afternoon here having descended Sani Pass in the morning. Sadly our trip got cut short here due to the mist, visibility was down to 2 metres in the forest after 2 hours, shame as there were plenty of bird calls and birds. Once in the forest, we drove to the far side until there's a big clearing, then walked back on ourselves. We were lucky enough to locate 2 Cape Parrots by call and after 20 minutes of waiting they eventually flew out of the canopy to show them selves. Barratt's Warbler was common here. There are odd tracks leading off the main road which would have been worth exploring but the mist was too thick for us to venture off the road too much.

Melodious Lark site, near Ladysmith

This site was found using Wim Heylen trip report, his directions are -

'To reach the site, you must take the N11 south from Volksrust to Ladysmith. About 28 km before Ladysmith, there is a road going left signposted for Elandslaagte, and a road going right signposted for Colling's Pass. Turn right there and drive about 10 km. After crossing the river, take the first road to the right. Search for Southern White-bellied Korhaan and Melodious Lark in the fields along that road.'

We found the site very easily, but instead coming from the south, so just turned his directions upside down, easy enough. We found several Shelley's Francolins here but no Korhaans, though, eventually after a few hours, Melodious Lark, after c2km from the turn off, singing from the fence on the left, we also had others fly over, there call is worth remembering! We met the farmer there, who told us all about the Korhaans on his land, but said we could only go on if we had had a 4x4. Take plenty of water, it can be hot here!


This area was superb for so many endemics, a real must for birders, though once all the birds have been seen it can get rather tiresome looking at field after field after field! We visited the Birdlife centre, just west of the town first, a great deal of effort has been done here so is worth a visit just to say hello. The marsh was very dry when we were here so didn't provide too much, but the wetlands just north of the town are good for many species. Just park to the left of the road in the car park and follow the path to the hide, plenty of warblers, weavers and ducks here, with Hottentot Teal seen behind the hide on the small pools. We hired one of the guides from the birdlife centre, only 100 rand for a morning, or 200 for a whole day. Not only are you helping yourself here, but you are helping the community and Birdlife in keeping this great area the way it is. The guide knew all the calls, and where the nest were, for most the specialities. Yellow-breasted Pipit was easy, seeing 3 displaying birds then later Botha's and Rudd's Lark being seen easily. The only bird he couldn't find us was Pink-billed Lark!

Mkuzi Game Reserve

Apparently very dry and birdless when we arrived here. Well, it was certainly good enough for us! Birds were plentiful in the Sand Forest, though during the heat of the day it became very quiet though the raptors, especially eagles kept us occupied. We sat in the second hide t Nsumo Pan during the midday heat for an hour, which proved a good move, plenty of water birds coming down to the water, with plenty of birds in the sky too. We then drove along the various tracks in search of whatever we could see, though we were halted in our tracks at one point, with a White Rhino sitting in the road, refusing to budge! We turned around. The hides over looking the wallows proved disappointing, with not a single mammal being seen by them!

On our second morning we hired a guide for the Fig Forest walk, there were plenty of new birds being seen here, with the guide being fantastic with the birdcalls, easy birding for us! Sadly it was too dry for many of the specialities, such as Neergaard's Sunbird. This walk lasts for about 2-3 hours and though reasonably expensive for the time, very worthwhile for several birds.

Muzi Pans

Here we hired another guide through Birdlife, and again, proved successful, though he wasn't as into birds as the others, when I asked him if there was any bird he wanted to see that he hadn't yet, he just replied 'No', fair enough! I'm not going to hold anything against him though as he showed us a fantastic roosting Pel's Fish Owl, high up in a riverside tree. Before this he showed us Muzi Pans and Cezwana Pan, which was an excellent site, especially for Lesser Jacana and Pygmy Goose. Again the fee was 100 rand.

Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Game Reserve

A fantastic place for both game and birds, though again, could be hard work during the day. We spent most of the day wondering where the Elephants and Lions could be hiding, we found the south section of Umfolozi the best for both birds and mammals, possibly because it's the least visited area, we drove from Mpila Camp to Cengeni Gate then as far south as the White Mfolozi River, onto the edge of the Wilderness Area. Here we found Elephant and plenty of White Rhinos and other game, long with several good birds, including Southern Bald Ibis on the river. We did a night drive from Hilltop Camp on the Hluhluwe side of the reserve, we proved exciting, especially as within 15 minutes we were watching a pack of Hyenas chase after each other with a Water Buffalos hoof! Though it started to tail off slighty after that, though there were still many highlights, the nightjars and Water Dikkops in the road, White Rhinos in a wallow etc.


St Lucia

We got to this site without knowing where to go really as we had lost all our information at the airport, once we found our hotel in the 'African Skegness' the owner showed us a walk that other birders do, which was the 'Lourie Trail' sure enough, next morning proved excellent as within 5 minutes of hitting the trail we had seen Brown Bush Robin on the track, Rudd's Apalis was also seen easily enough here, along with 2 fantastic Green Twinspots. We then made our way to Sugarloaf Camp for a walk around, and soon enough found a fruiting Fig tree, which was home to several birds, including Livingstone's Turaco.

The rest of the afternoon was spent along Richard's Bay, where we couldn't find any of the sites, and Mtunzini, where it was just too windy, so we packed up and set off for Eshowe.


A fantastic days birding as had here, in the company of our Birdlife guide, who, not only was an excellent birder, also had ambitions, in wanting to set up a Natal Bird Touring company. Firstly, we set off to Dreadnought Farm, an African Finfoot site, after 90, soaking, minutes, we got to a large cliff where the stream started to die off, we had seen little, no Finfoot, but plenty of rain, he declared that I should play the Broadbill tape, wondering what he was up to, I played the tape, once, and waited, 10 minutes later I was amazed to hear an African Broadbill, played the tape again, and then the bird shot over us and continued to display to us, on and off, for the next 30 minutes, brilliant stuff, well worth the walk. The skies then cleared and several other birds were heard and seen.

Dlinze Forest was next, for Spotted Thrush, within a minute of entering the forest there was a Spotted Thrush feeding on the track in front of us. During the walk around we saw several, including 3 nests, reasonable views of Delegorgue's Pigeon and Narina Trogon.

A final stop was made at Umgoye Forest, for Green (Woodward's) Barbet, where the guide had never missed them. Sure enough, where we parked the car proved to be an ideal spot for them, with 6+ birds being seen, showing well for a barbet, including birds at a nest hole. Also here was 2 Brown Bush Robins.

The guide charged us 200 rand for a days birding, well worth the money for the sites he showed us that we wouldn't have known about otherwise, so a tip was given too.

Bird List

Common Ostrich
Commonly encountered around open areas around the Cape

Crested Francolin
2 seen, several more heard around Mkuzi

Grey-winged Francolin
7 were seen by the roadside just off the N2 on the road to Malgas. Heard at Wakkerstroom and on the Tanqua Karoo

Red-winged Francolin
One seen well by the road and then in flight on the descend on the Lesotho side of Sani Pass

Shelley's Francolin
1 eventually was located among a rocky outcrop at the Melodious Lark site. Several others heard along the left hand side, this bird was seen about 6km past the turnoff

Cape Francolin
Common around the Cape, recorded on 6 dates, very tame at De Hoop, Kirstenbosch and West Coast NP

Natal Francolin
2 were along the roadside just south of the Memorial gate at Hluhluwe with another seen by the White Mfolozi River near Cengeni Gate at Umfolozi

Swainson's Francolin
3 were seen opposite Weaver's Nest at Wakkerstroom with another in the area next day, others heard

Crested Guineafowl
4 along the Kumahlala loop at Mkuzi with a further 4 at Hluhluwe

Helmeted Guineafowl
Common, recorded on 10 dates

White-faced Duck
At Wakkerstroom 1 was at the Wetlands and 2 at the Birdlife. 6 were on Nsumo Pan, Mkuzi, with good numbers present on Muzi and Cezwana Pans

Maccoa Duck
Present in good numbers at Strandfontein Sewage Works and c15 at Paarl bird Sanctuary

Egyptian Goose
Very common, recorded on 14 dates

South African Shelduck
5 were on pan 10 at Strandfontein Sewage Works, 4 around the Overberg Farmlands but I certainly was expecting the site of well over 2000 present on a single lake at Ceres. This lake was just east of Ceres on the right hand side, the first obviously large lake out of the town

Spur-winged Goose
Recorded on 7 dates, most common along the Darling Farmland loop

Comb Duck
Single seen at Cezwana Pan

African Pygmy-goose
12, 6 pairs, present among lilies at Cezwana Pan

Cape Teal
Present at most bodies of water, the commonest duck at Strandfontein Sewage Works, 1000+

Yellow-billed Duck
The most widespread duck, though mainly seen in pairs on 11 dates

Cape Shovelar
Recorded on 5 dates, commonest duck at Paarl Bird Sanctuary, c300

Red-billed Duck
Recorded on 7 dates, mainly in much smaller numbs than previous 3 species

Hottentot Teal
6+ on pool behind tower hide at Wakkerstroom wetlands and a further 6 present at Cezwana Pan

Southern Pochard
c40 present at Strandfontein Sewage works and c20 at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

Lesser Honeyguide
1 seen well at St Lucia at the Lourie walk and another heard at Dreadnought Farm, Eshowe

Golden-tailed Woodpecker
Singles seen at Xumeni Forest and Dreadnought Farm, with 4 on Fig Forest walk, Mkuzi

Ground Woodpecker
On the ascend up Sani Pass 5 were seen on rocks above South African border, with 8 on the descend. A further 2 were seen at Wakkerstroom lark fields

Cardinal Woodpecker
Just one seen, at Mkuzi sand forest

Bearded Woodpecker
A pair showed excellently by the memorial gate at Hluhluwe

Olive Woodpecker
2 at Dreadnought Farm, Eshowe

White-eared Barbet
Common at Fig Forest, Mkuzi, with 2 seen at Sugarloaf Camping ground, St Lucia

Green (Woodward's) Barbet
4 seen very well at Ongoye Forest, with others heard, our guide here has never missed them on a visit to the Forest in 2 1/2 years!

Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird
Several seen and heard at Fig Forest, Mkuzi, St Lucia and Dlinza and Ongoye Forests

Red-fronted Tinkerbird
1 showed well at Fig Forest, Mkuzi, with others heard here and Dlinza Forest

Black-collared Barbet
2 seen in Kloof garden

Crested Barbet
1 along road 50km before Mkuzi

Crowned Hornbill
1 at Mkuzi, feeding female in nesthole, with another at Hluhluwe just below Hilltop

Trumpeter Hornbill
2 at Sand Forest and very common and noisy in Fig Forest, Mkuzi. Also seen at St Lucia and Eshowe area in good numbers

African Hoopoe
Regularly seen in singles with max of 3 at De Hoop and West Coast NP. When seen in flight surprisingly different wing pattern to European counterpart, orange extends much further down belly too

Green Wood-hoopoe
3, inc 1 juv at Kloof and 5 at both Fig Forest, Mkuzi and Dreadnought Farm, Eshowe

Narina Trogon
1 seen at Fig Forest, with another heard, and 3 seen with several heard at Dlinza Forest, others heard at Dreadnought Farm. A fantastic bird, certainly matching the Asian trogons

Lilac-breasted Roller
1 at the Sand Forest, Mkuzi

Broad-billed Roller
Singles at airstrip and Fig Forest, Mkuzi, with 2 at PFO site, Muzi Pans

Half-collared Kingfisher
Single at Dreadnaught Farm

Malachite Kingfisher
Incredibly, only one seen, briefly at Cezwana Pan

African Pygmy Kingfisher
Single along stream at PFO site, Muzi Pans

Woodland Kingfisher
Single at Fig Forest, Mkuzi, with 4 noisy birds at PFO site, Muzi Pans

Brown-hooded Kingfisher
3 at Mkuzi with singles at St Lucia at Dreadnought Farm

Giant Kingfisher
Singles at PFO site Muzi Pans, Dreadnought Farm and mouth of river at St Lucia

Pied Kingfisher
Several sightings, mainly from Cape and Wakkerstroom areas with water

Little Bee-eater
3 birds at Mkuzi Sand Forest, excellent little birds, look completely different to the Indian race birds I have seen

Blue-cheeked Bee-eater
14+ at St Lucia feeding over the river mouth, view from the pull-in 100 yards before Sugarloaf Camp

European Bee-eater
8 at Mkuzi Sand Forest with good numbers around the West Coast and Tanqua Karoo

White-backed Mousebird
4 seen around West Coast and Darling loop with 3 on Tanqua Karoo

Speckled Mousebird
Common, especially at De Hoop

Red-faced Mousebird
Common at Mkuzi, Hluhluwe and De Hoop campground

Jacobin Cuckoo
2 north of the airstrip, Mkuzi

Red-chested Cuckoo
Heard on 8 dates, seen at Constantia, Mkuzi headquarters and Hluhluwe

Klaas's Cuckoo
Singles at Fig Forest, Mkuzi and Dreadnought Farm

African Emerald Cuckoo
2 seen around Mkuzi Sand Forest with one seen and several heard at Dreadnought Farm

Diderick Cuckoo
Never realised how common they would be following one near Xumeni Forest, 8 seen in Wakkerstroom area with 4 in the grounds of Ghost Mountain, Mkuzi, heard several other sites, mainly adults with juveniles being observed

Green Malkoha
2 at Fig Forest, Mkuzi

Burchell's Coucal
A single at PFO site, Muzi Pans

Cape Parrot
2 were heard then seen halfway along track at Xumeni Forest, not great views due to mist and birds being in canopy, but views none the less

Brown-headed Parrot
2 birds flew low along road at north end of Mkuzi

African Palm Swift
Seen on 6 dates, mainly in towns

Alpine Swift
Seen on 4 dates, especially around Kirstenbosch and Darling farmland loop

Common Swift
Recorded in numbers in the St Lucia area, may have gone unnoticed in other areas

African Black Swift
Seen on 9 dates with Kirstenbosch and Darling the areas with the largest numbers, very distinctive with the silvery looking panels on secondaries, appear long winged too

Little Swift
Recorded on 11 dates, especially around towns and rivers

Horus Swift
A pair presumably nesting in a small rocky area next to the road at the base of Sani Pass, surprisingly distinctive, with rump shape noticeable

White-rumped Swift
Recorded on 9 dates, especially around De Hoop and Wakkerstroom, with the bridge by the wetlands reserve being a great site for views

Livingstone's Turaco
3 seen at Sugarloaf Campground with another flying across the road outside St Lucia

Purple-crested Turaco
3 seen at both Mkuzi and Hluhluwe, others heard here

Cape Eagle Owl
A quick night drive around Michell's Pass, Ceres produced 2 calling eagle owls, which sounded similar to Cape, too distant though to be seen sadly

Spotted Eagle Owl
2 at dawn just east of Ceres in 6 conifers on the left just before a little forested hillock, on our way back one bird was still there, roosting low down in a roadside conifer

Pel's Fish Owl
One of the highlights, of a bird I've always wanted to see, Timmy, the Birdlife guide showed us a site along a stream where they roost. After walking for about 20 minutes he pronounced that there was one there, excellent views were had of a bird roosting near the top of a large tree, occasionally glancing round to look at us

Fiery-necked Nightjar
8+ were seen on a night drive at Hluhluwe, often just sitting on the road, so the driver having swerve from a few!

Swamp (Natal) Nightjar
A single nightjar seen perched and in flight by a wet area on the Hluhluwe night drive showed long white outer tail feathers, small patch primary patches and large white throat was presumed to be this species

European Nightjar
2 were seen well on the Hluhluwe night drive

Rock (Feral) Dove
Recorded on 14 dates

Speckled Pigeon
Recorded on 13 dates

African Olive (Rameron) Pigeon
1 was seen well perched at Xumeni Forest, with several others seen in flight

Eastern Bronze-naped (Delegorgue's) Pigeon
3 singles were seen perched, calling high in the canopy at Dlinza forest

Lemon (Cinnamon) Dove
A single at Dreadnought Farm, followed by 2 at Kirstenbosch BG

Laughing Dove
Common, recorded on 15 dates

Cape Turtle Dove
Recorded on 15 dates

Red-eyed Dove
Recorded on 10 dates

Emerald-spotted Wood-dove
Common at Mkuzi, incredibly vocal too, with their Trogon like call, also recorded at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

Tamborine Dove
Recorded in singles at Mkuzi, Hluhluwe and St Lucia

Namaqua Dove
Seen in very small numbers at Overberg/De Hoop area and Kwazulu-Natal and larger numbers along the west coast

African Green Pigeon
3 at Fig Forest, Mkuzi

Denham's (Stanley's) Bustard
9 of these elegant birds were seen on the De Mond - De Hoop road

Southern Black Korhaan
A male was seen along the furthest east of the Swellendam-De Hoop road, with a female on the Darling Farmland loop and another male later on at Langebaan, West Coast

Karoo Korhaan
A pair were seen well and displaying, including the male flushed along the Swellendam-De Hoop road, that lies just to the west of the De Hoop entrance

Barrow's (White-bellied) Korhaan
1 male was seen before mist covered the bird, about 10 km east of Wakkerstroom, along the main road, apparently a reliable site which the Birdlife guide knows

Blue Korhaan
4 were seen along a large floodplain just west of Wakkerstroom, along with other cranes and ibis's. A further 7 were at the Larks fields and 2 just east of there

Black-bellied Korhaan
While watching a Rhino on the Hluhluwe night drive I realised there was a Korhaan sitting behind it in the torchlight! Certainly a surprise as it sat motionless. Next day we tried to find the field, thinking it would be a needle in a haystack job, let alone the bird; just as I was saying this, the bird was suddenly there again, 10 metres from the road, reaching for my camera I was amazed when it just walked straight up to the car, then crossed the road feet in front of us!

Grey (Southern) Crowned Crane
2 were seen flying over near Underberg with 2 others on the floodplain just west of Wakkerstroom and 2 more at Wakkerstroom Wetlands reserve

Blue Crane
Common in the Overberg region, with 53 being seen, mainly in pairs, regularly seen either on nest or with chicks. 2 were also seen at Wakkerstroom and at Darling

Buff-spotted Flufftail
One was heard close to the trail at Constantia Greenbelt, but the bird never responded well to tape, very difficult to see this one, and after 30 minutes I had to give up!

Black Crake
Just a single at Cezwana Pan

African Purple Swamphen (Gallinule)
Birds seen at De Hoop, Wakkerstroom Wetlands and Cezwana Pan

Common Moorhen
Recorded on 12 dates

Red-knobbed (Crested) Coot
Recorded on 11 dates

African Snipe
Single on wetland near Sani Pass, with 14+ seen mainly in flight at Wakkerstroom wetlands reserve

Bar-tailed Godwit
Recorded at West Coast NP

Common Whimbrel
Recorded at Kommetjie and West Coast NP

Marsh Sandpiper
Recorded in good numbers at most wetland sites on 7 dates

Common Greenshank
Recorded on 6 dates, less numerous than above species

Wood Sandpiper
Recorded on 9 dates, preferring smaller bodies of water than previous 2 species

Common Sandpiper
Single at Muzi Pans with 2 at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

Ruddy Turnstone
Recorded at West Coast NP

Recorded along the coast

Little Stint
Good numbers present at Muzi Pans, Nsumo Pan Mkuzi, West Coast NP and Cerebos

Curlew Sandpiper
Large numbers at Cerebos Salt Works, recorded elsewhere

Recorded on 5 dates, inland and by coast

African Jacana
5 were present at Ghost Mountain, Mkuzi, with 2 at Nsumo Pan, Mkuzi and 20+ at Cezwana Pan

Lesser Jacana
A single at Cezwana Pan

Water Thick-knee (Dikkop)
2 at De Hoop Campground with 8+ on the night drive at Hluhluwe feeding on the road allowing incredible views. Another 2 were present on pan 3 at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

Spotted Thick-knee (Dikkop)
Just a single by Pick 'n' Pay store, Noordoek

African Black Oystercatcher
Common along the west and southern coast, especially at Kommetjie

Black-winged Stilt
Recorded on 6 dates

Pied Avocet
Recorded in large numbers at Strandfontein Sewage Works and Paarl Bird Sanctuary

Grey Plover
Recorded in good numbers on southern and western coasts, but did include a single at Nsumo Pan, Mkuzi

Common Ringed Plover
Recorded on 3 dates

Kittlitz's Plover
Recorded on 6 dates, inland and on coast, including 2 chicks at West Coast NP

Three-banded Plover
Recorded on 5 dates, especially at Cerebos Salt works and Overberg Farmland loop

Chestnut-banded Plover
30+ were present on the 2nd and 3rd pan north of the offices at Cerebos Salt Works

White-fronted Plover
Recorded along the coast in fair numbers, including at Kommetjie and St Lucia

Blacksmith Plover
Very common, recorded on 14 dates, noisy and conspicuous

African Wattled Lapwing
Commonly encountered in the Wakkerstroom and Mkuzi areas

Crowned Plover
Recorded on 8 dates in much smaller numbers than Blacksmith, but very common in Overberg region

Collared (Red-winged) Pratincole
Following 5+ at Nsumo Pan, Mkuzi, at least 60 were present at Muzi Pans

Subantarctic Skua
2 were present behind trawlers on the pelagic

Pomarine Skua
4, including 2 pale phase adults were seen quite close inshore from the pelagic

Arctic Skua
40+, mainly close to shore were present on the pelagic, allowing good views of rarely seen moulting plumages for northern hemisphere birders

Kelp (Cape) Gull
Very common around the Cape

Grey-headed Gull
2 at the mouth of the river at St Lucia, with 6 adults at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

Hartlaub's Gull
Common around Cape

Sabine's Gull
At least 40, including summer-plumaged adults and juveniles were seen off the pelagic

Caspian Tern
2 at the river mouth just north of Muizenberg and 2 at Cerebos Salt Works

Swift (Great Crested) Tern
Common, especially on pelagic and at Kommetjie, recorded on 6 dates, including at St Lucia

Sandwich Tern
Common, recorded on 4 dates

Common Tern
Common on coast, especially at Kommetjie, over 1000 present

Arctic Tern
50+ from pelagic

Little Tern
8 from Seeberg hide, West Coast NP and 3 at Cerebos Salt Works

Damara Tern
2 fine adults, including one flying over my head and one feeding off shore at Struis Bay

Whiskered Tern
22 at Wetland just below Sani Pass, also 200+ at Muzi Pans

White-winged (Black) Tern
1 below Sani Pass, 10+ at Muzi Pans and at least 70 at Paarl Bird Sanctuary on pan 3

European Honey Buzzard
2, an adult and dark phase immature flew south over Wakkerstroom, then later seen circling over the Birdlife centre

Black-shouldered Kite
Recorded on 9 dates, very common all around the Cape

Yellow-billed Kite
Common, especially in Natal, recorded on 14 dates

African Fish Eagle
Recorded on 5 dates at Strandfontein Sewage Works, Struis Bay (2), below Sani Pass (2) and St Lucia (3)

Palm-nut Vulture
Sub-adults were seen on both days at Mkuzi, one over Nsumo Pan and the other over the Headquarters. Having spent a while in almost gale force winds at Mtunzini we left to head towards Eshowe, luckily later on along the old N2 and adult and imm flew over, heading towards Mtunzini, fantastic views of upper and lower parts.

Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier)
An immature seen twice over the summit of Sani Pass, looking south

White-backed Vulture
Regularly seen in the skies above Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi reserves

Cape Vulture
We decided not to bother visiting Potberg with us visiting Natal later, fortunately though an adult circled over the offices at De Hoop Vlei, being mobbed by a Black Harrier. At Sani Pass 5 were recorded over the Wetland, with a further 3 over Mkuzi

Lappet-faced Vulture
A single adult was circling over the southern edge of Umfolozi, by the Bald Ibis colony

White-headed Vulture
A lucky sighting early morning at Hluhluwe involved finding an adult perched low down by the roadside just below Hill Top

Black-chested Snake-eagle
A single adult flew then starting hovering over the Sand Forest, Mkuzi

An immature circled low over Mkuzi Sand Forest with an adult flying west over the west end of Hlulhuwe reserve

African Marsh Harrier
Recorded on 4 dates, at Struis Bay, Wakkerstroom Birdlife centre (2) and West Coast NP (2)

Black Harrier
This fantastic bird of prey was seen several times, with 8 around the Overberg Farmland loop/ De Hoop and a further 2 at West Coast NP

Montagu's Harrier
A single ringtail was over the fields to the North-east of Wakkerstroom

Lizard Buzzard
Incredible views were had of an adult that perched 10 feet off the ground right next to the car at Mkuzi Sand Forest, in flight upperparts to the tail incredible distinctive

Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk
And adult and immature were perched on Telegraph Wires along the R356 on the Tanqua Karoo

African Goshawk
Singles were displaying over Kirstenbosch BG and Mkuzi Fig Forest. Incredible calling display, I was searching the bushes for a passerine at Kirstenbosch until I realised that this species calls like that, looked up and the bird was about a mile away!

Little Sparrowhawk
A single male was seen by the Mkuzi Headquarters

Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk
A single flew over the west side of Cerebos Salt Works

Black Sparrowhawk (Goshawk)
Following possibles over Constantia and Dlinza Forest briefly, one circled over the R44 between West Coast and Ceres

Steppe Buzzard
Recorded on 14 dates, very common at times

Forest Buzzard
Singles were seen circling over plantations to the East of St Lowry's Pass and between West Coast and Ceres, a possible was also seen at Umfoluzi

Jackal Buzzard
Recorded on 9 dates, common, but less so than Steppe Buzzard

Tawny Eagle
10+ were recorded at Mkuzi, including some fine pale birds, a single was also seen at Hluhluwe. Another 15+ aquilas were recorded at both reserves but views were either too distant or brief, weather conditions must have been perfect at Mkuzi for raptors, with aquilas always seemingly in the air, along with White-backed Vultures

Lesser Spotted Eagle
A probable was over Mkuzi, with an immature bird seen well at Hluhluwe, a few possibles were seen but views inconclusive

Verreaux's Eagle
One of the highlights of the trip; bizarre considering I'm not into raptors that much, too much neck straining. But while on top of the hill waiting for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler at Katbakkies an adult flew below me, then up and over, circling low over me, before flying away, a cracking view looking from above

African Hawk Eagle
2 were seen over Mkuzi, very distinctive shape in flight, long tail with wings not shaped too differently from Verreaux's Eagle

Booted Eagle
A dark phase bird over R27 just south of Velddrif and 2 (dark and light phase) over Katbakkies

Wahlberg's Eagle
7+ over Mkuzi with 2 over Hluhluwe-Umfolozi, including great views of a perched bird at Mkuzi

Martial Eagle
An immature bird at the side of the road preying on a still live Monitor Lizard, cracking views

Long-crested Eagle
Singles at Mkuzi and along N2 just north of Durban

African Crowned Eagle
Only a very brief view of a calling bird over Dlinza Forest, annoying as a pair breeds in the garden of our friends in Kloof!

Surprisingly only one seen, an adult in fields at the Melodious Lark site

Lesser Kestrel
3 males were seen around West Coast NP

Rock Kestrel
Recorded on 6 dates, with good views at St Lowry's Pass, Katbakkies and West Coast NP. Should this species be countered different to our Kestrel? I thought plumage wise it was distinct, lack of moustachial stripe, pale underwing and female's resemblance to male. Behaved differently being only seen over rocky areas and rarely seen perched from a vantage point

Amur Falcon
Amazingly, having been looking forward to seeing some cracking males, having only previously seen immature in India, only a single was seen, fortunately an adult male, over the Lark fields at Wakkerstroom

Lanner Falcon
Cracking views of a pair perched on roadside telegraph poles at Wakkerstroom, with singles seen at Umfolozi and over N2 north of Durban

Peregrine Falcon
Single over Kommetjie

Little Grebe
Recorded on 8 dates

Great Crested Grebe
Recorded on 4 dates, birds appear much darker and brighter on head than our birds

Black-necked Grebe
Recorded on 5 dates with Strandfontein Sewage works and Cerebos Salt works holding over 200

Cape Gannet
Very common offshore around Cape

African Darter
Recorded on 7 dates, with good numbers breeding at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

Reed Cormorant
Recorded on 11 dates, common on freshwater

Crowned Cormorant
Recorded around Cape, common around Kommetjie, and very common from Pelagic looking onto the cliffs

White-breasted Cormorant
Recorded on 9 dates, very common

Bank Cormorant
Not bad for a cormorant, seen on 2 dates, at Kommetjie and on its Kelp nests off the pelagic

Cape Cormorant
Commonly encountered around the Cape

Black Heron
A single bird was present on the marsh behind Ghost mountain resort, Mkuzi

Little Egret
Recorded on 14 dates

Yellow-billed (Intermediate) Egret
Recorded on 6 dates, though in very small numbers

Great (-white) Egret
Recorded on 7 dates

Grey Heron
Recorded on 9 dates

Black-headed Heron
Recorded on 13 dates, a striking bird, especially in flight

Goliath Heron
Singles at Muzi and Cezwana Pans

Purple Heron
Singles at Strandfontein Sewage Works and Wakkerstroom Wetlands Reserve

Cattle Egret
Recorded on 12 dates

Squacco Heron
Single at Wakkerstroom Wetlands Reserve and 3 at Cezwana Pan

Green-backed Heron
A single adult seen briefly along a stream at Hluhluwe

Black-crowned Night Heron
7 over a marsh at dusk, by the R310/N2 junction, with 6 at Strandfontein Sewage Works

3 at Nsumo Pan and 3 at Fig Forest, Mkuzi with several present at Hluhluwe-Umfoluzi

Greater Flamingo
Recorded in large numbers at Strandfontein Sewage Works, Cerebos Salt Works and Paarl Bird Sanctuary

Lesser Flamingo
Upto 70 at Cerebos Salt Works

Glossy Ibis
Commonly encountered around the Cape

Hadeda Ibis
What a bird! Recorded on 17 dates, incredibly missed on 1 day, that takes some doing. Everywhere, especially if you learn the call, which you will never forget from the moment you hear one. Everyone seems to loathe them, due to how loud they are at ridiculous times in the morning. I think they're great due to how annoying people find them!

Southern Bald Ibis
4 flew over Sani Pass as we watched Rock-jumpers in the evening. 8, a single, 3 and 4 were recorded on the way to Wakkerstroom. 12 were recorded on the White Mfolozi river by a presumed breeding cliff, south of the Cengeni Gate at Umfolozi. A further single was recorded by on a breeding cliff at Dreadnought Farm, Eshowe

African Sacred Ibis
This is the Ibis everyone should loathe, coming in all shades of white, recorded on 11 dates, often congregating in large numbers around cattle watering holes

African Spoonbill
Surprisingly common, recorded on 8 dates. Seen around Overberg, Mkuzi and especially in the Ceres area

Great White Pelican
6 over Strandfontein Sewage Works, very common along the West Coast and 60+ at Paarl Bird Sanctuary

Pink-backed Pelican
Good numbers at Nsumo (15) and Muzi Pans (60+), Mkuzi

Yellow-billed Stork
20+ at Nsumo Pan, Mkuzi and similar numbers at Muzi Pan

African Openbill Stork
3 at Nsumo Pan, Mkuzi with a single at Muzi Pans

Woolly-necked Stork
Very common in Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfoluzi reserves, often in the middle of the forests, just wondering about

White Stork
Just 2 seen, at Nsumo Pan, Mkuzi

Marabou Stork
19 at Nsumo Pan with a further 12+ flying over headquarters at Mkuzi

African (Jackass) Penguin
Seen at both mainland breeding colonies, Betty's Bay and Simon's Town. You have to pay to see them, though you can't walk up to them due to a boardwalk at both reserves, for best photographic opportunities walk down to the small bay in front of the Penguin Car park at Simon's Town, as c15 birds were present on rocks here. Morning would prove best so the sun hits the spot they are in, great watching them running after each other, though you can never capture them how you want on camera. Seen 25km offshore on pelagic too.

European Storm-petrel
Upto 80 were seen, including 2 flocks of c30, on the pelagic

Wilson's Strom-petrel
Only c15 were seen on pelagic, and some excellent views were had

Black-browed Albatross
c50 were seen on pelagic, with only a small minority being pristine adults

Shy Albatross
c150 on the pelagic, again only small numbers of adults. 2 birds showed features of salvini, one bird showed black rising quite high on the underwing primaries, with another bird resting showing a very dark head shawl (photographed, hopefully!)

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross
3 adults of this most attractive of albatross's were recorded on the pelagic

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross
7 adults were recorded, this was our first albatross of the pelagic too. 6 immature yellow-nosed were seen, not allowing a proper id

Southern Giant Petrel
c30 were seen at close range on the pelagic, including several adults, bill tip noticeable at quite a distance given good views

Northern Giant Petrel
c60 of these ugly beasts were recorded, seen in small groups scavenging for scraps behind the trawlers on the pelagic, strangely most appeared to be adults

Pintado Petrel
5 of these fantastic petrels were recorded behind trawlers on the pelagic

White-chinned Petrel
At least 500 of these large, powerful, petrels were recorded on the pelagic

Spectacled Petrel
1 showed well, but briefly, behind a trawler on the pelagic


Cory's Shearwater
c80 seen on pelagic, of the race scolopi

Great Shearwater
c100 were recorded on the pelagic, mainly further out than the Cory's

Sooty Shearwater
Big numbers on the pelagic, I presume more than 1000 were seen

Manx Shearwater
3 were seen on the pelagic, away from the trawlers

African Broadbill
While walking along for Finfoot at Dreadnought Farm, Sbisiso said play the broadbill tape, so I played it once, almost instantly a Broadbill replied, next go it flew straight over us, and proceeded to show us its remarkable display for over 30 minutes. Its display is remarkable, twirling above then below its perch, flashing its huge white puff back, similar to a Black-backed Puffback. To see this very reliable bird contact Birdlife for the guide

Black-headed Oriole
2 were seen well at Xumeni Forest, with others heard

Square-tailed Drongo
Recorded in small numbers throughout Natal on 4 dates

Fork-tailed Drongo
Recorded on 8 dates in good and noisy numbers

African Paradise Flycatcher
Recorded on 6 dates in a variety of localities and habitat

2 were at the Mkuzi Sand Forest

Black-backed Puffback
Commonly seen at Mkuzi, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and Eshowe area

Brown-crowned Tchagra
A single showed well near the Cengeni Gate, Umfolozi reserve

Southern Tchagra
3 noisy birds were recorded along the access road at De Hoop NR, with another seen in the campground

Southern Boubou
3 were at Kirstenbosch BG, 2 at Wakkerstroom, a single at Hlulhuwe and 2 at Michell's Pass

This attractive bird was common all over the Overberg and De Hoop region and was also present around Wakkerstroom

Orange-breasted Bush-shrike
3 birds were sat singing to each below Hill Top at Hluhluwe

Olive Bush-shrike
2 were seen at Wakkerstroom, in the bush forest the guide took us too

Gorgeous Bush-shrike
This incredibly elusive bird was heard twice and seen briefly at Mkuzi, by the Fig Forest Carpark and Sand Forest

Grey-headed Bush-shrike
Heard along the roadside just before Underberg

White-crested Helmet-shrike
3 of these bizarre birds showed well together at the Sand Forest, Mkuzi

Cape Batis
Common around Kirstenbosch BG and also recorded at Sani Pass, Wakkerstroom and commonly around Eshowe

Pririt Batis
2 were present at Katbakkies with a further 2 in the Acacia thicket 3km north of the Katbakkies turn off on R356

House Crow
The first bird of the trip, common around Cape Town airport, recorded there on our departure too

Cape Crow
Recorded on 6 dates, most common in the Overberg region

Pied Crow
Recorded on 10 dates

White-necked Raven
Seen occasionally around the Cape, with Overberg and Kirstenbosch being the best sites, also recorded at Wakkerstroom

Red-backed Shrike
12+ were seen, mainly immatures, at Mkuzi with a further 3 at Umfolozi

Lesser Grey Shrike
An immature was seen below Cengeni Gate at Umolfozi

Common Fiscal
Seen on 14 dates, can be very common

Grey Cuckooshrike
1 was recorded by the boardwalk at Dlinza Forest

Cape Rock-jumper
A family party of 4 were about 500m along the ridge at St Lowry's Pass showing extremely well, fabulous birds. The male had a red and yellow ring on its left leg, making it annoying for a photographer!


Orange-breasted Rock-jumper
Frustratingly not seen on the ascent at Sani Pass, but a drive into Lesotho produced fantastic views of 5, including 4 males, all just either side of the highest peak you drive over, about 10km? past the Sani Pass Chalet, with another heard by the Chalet at dusk. Next morning 2 males were seen, 1 by walking east from the chalet along the ridge, and another 300m down along the zigzags

Cape Penduline Tit
2 showed well in the acacia thicket 3 km north of Katbakkies turn off

Southern Black Tit
One was seen in Xumeni Forest but appeared quite common in Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi reserves

Southern Grey Tit
4 were seen on the ascent approaching the top of Sani Pass

Sand Martin
Recorded at St Lucia

Brown-throated Martin
Common, recorded on 7 dates

Banded Martin
A single at De Hoop, with good numbers present along the wires at the Melodious Lark site and around Wakkerstroom

Barn Swallow
Recorded on 14 dates, often in huge numbers

White-throated Swallow
Recorded on 7 dates

Wire-tailed Swallow
Recorded in numbers at Wakkerstroom and St Lucia

Pearl-breasted Swallow
Recorded at Strandfontein Sewage Works and 3 at the Horus Swift site north of Malgas, Overberg

Greater Striped Swallow
Recorded on 11 dates

Lesser Striped Swallow
Recorded in Natal in small numbers, though very conspicuous at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

Red-breasted Swallow
4 pairs noted at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi, with pairs being seen by various culverts in the reserve, a beautiful and very large swallow, very distinctive

South African Cliff-swallow
Large numbers at the Melodious Lark site, with others noted at Wakkerstroom

Rock Martin
Recorded on 6 dates, mainly in rocky areas, obviously!

Black Saw-wing
Recorded on 7 dates, but mainly in singles

Dark-capped Bulbul
Common over most of Natal, seen on 8 days

Cape Bulbul
Just as common as previous species, though around the Cape on 6 dates

Sombre Bulbul
Recorded on 7 dates, mainly in Natal, but also at Kirstenbosch

Yellow-bellied Greenbul
Seen twice at Mkuzi Fig Forest

Terrestrial Bulbul
Seen at Mkuzi and Eshowe areas

Yellow-streaked Bulbul
Seen at Mkuzi Fig Forest

Eastern Nicator
Recorded at Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi reserves

Fairy Flycatcher
3 were seen in the undergrowth in Lesotho just past the plain, park anywhere here and explore, its amazing the amount of birds in the small bushes here

Knysna Warbler
1 single bird was seen extremely well by the trail at the north end of the Constantia Greenbelt, listen for them moving in the leaf litter, though the birds red and yellow rings made it stand out more in the dark undergrowth! Another bird that the song must be known to see

Barratt's Warbler
Common if you know the call, seen and heard regularly at Sani Pass, Xumeni Forest and Wakkerstroom forest. The best views I had were in the larger trees and bushes opposite the South African border crossing at Sani Pass

Victorin's Warbler
1 seen, but very elusively, at St Lowry's Pass. Sadly the wind had really picked up making it hard to hear them, we had to walk over 1km to find some decent fynbos, as soon as we got there 3+ were singing. They stick very low to the ground, they're usually closer than they sound too

Cape Grassbird
Recorded on 5 dates, but hard to get decent views, best around Strandfontein Sewage Works and the lower reaches of Sani Pass

(African Sedge) Little Rush-warbler
1 seen and several heard at Wakkerstroom wetlands reserve

African Reed (Marsh) Warbler
Very common at Wakkerstroom Wetlands and Paarl Bird Sanctuary

Lesser Swamp (Cape Reed) Warbler
1 showed well at Strandfontein Sewage Works, with others heard

Yellow-bellied Eremomela
Singles at Mkuzi Fig Forest, Katbakkies and in the acacia thicket 3 km north of Katbakkies turn off

Karoo Eremomela
3 were seen at Eierkop, Tanqua Karoo. These birds were located by call half way between the hill and the road by the fence. Hard to find, as they always seem to stay 40 yards in front of you, they then take flight and land 10-15 yards further on. Quite distinctive, their head and shape reminded of a Lesser Whitethroat

Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler
A single showed well at Xumeni Forest

Willow Warbler
Regularly seen at De Hoop and in Natal

Bush Blackcap
Fortunately while watching a Malachite Sunbird just above the SA border at Sani Pass one came into view, a quick play of the tape incredibly made the pair come zooming in and singing non stop for 30 minutes. At least 6 were seen at Wakkerstroom 'forest'


Layard's Tit-babbler
6 were seen on the Lesotho side of Sani Pass, in the thick bush and 1 at Katbakkies

Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler
3 elusive birds were at West Coast NP, along the main road

Cape White-eye
Recorded on 16 dates, very common, everywhere. Though distinctly different in the east, having a yellow belly, compared to the grey southern birds

Lazy Cisticola
Common at Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi. The cisticolas were at times a nightmare, but overall nowhere near as bad as I had imagined; especially with starting around the Cape, with only a few species possible and normally identified on habitat alone. In Natal, patience is needed, learning the songs is an instant giveaway, though I didn't bother learning them at home as I decided I'd just leave them alone, but there's so many of them, mainly showing well too, that you can't help but want to identify them.

Rattling Cisticola
Very common at Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

Grey-backed Cisticola
Recorded near St Lowry's Pass and on the Tanqua Karoo

Wailing Cisticola
Common along the Sani Pass

Rufous-winged (Black-backed) Cisticola
1 at Richard's Bay and 1 near Dreadnought Farm

Levaillant's Cicticola
Very common around wetlands, recorded on 7 dates

Common, especially around St Lowry's Pass

Zitting Cisticola
Very common at several sites

Cloud Cisticola
5 were seen in the Overberg Farmlands area, learn the call and there not difficult

Pale-crowned Cisticola
1 seen at Wakkerstroom, its great, the guide knows the calls of the cisticolas here, so just let him identify them for you!

Ayre's (Wing-snapping) Cisticola
Common at Wakkerstroom, the wing snapping sounding quite loud

Tawny-flanked Prinia
Common in Natal

Karoo Prinia
Very common and loud around the Cape

Drakensberg Prinia
Only one seen low down at Sani Pass

Namaqua Warbler
3 were seen and others heard opposite the "oak covered barn" as described in Essential Birding. We asked permission of the farmer to walk the field opposite, which held several noisy birds. A very drab bird. Another was seen in the acacia bed 3 km north of Katbakkies

Rufous-eared Warbler
2 were present below Eierkop, Tanqua Karoo were sadly the only ones

Bar-throated Apalis
Recorded on 4 dates at De Hoop, Xumeni Forest, Wakerstroom and Kirstenbosch

Yellow-breasted Apalis
4 were at Sugarloaf Camp, St Lucia with another at Dreadnought Farm

Rudd's Apalis
Following one heard at Mkuzi Fig Forest 3 were seen on the Lourie Walk at St Lucia

Green-backed Camaroptera (Bleating-warbler)
Very common but often elusive around forested areas in Natal

Cinnamon-breasted Warbler
2 seen, one distant, one briefly, at Katbakkies at spots 3 and 5 in Essential birding. I think it may have been too hot and far too windy for better views, only one heard

Melodious Lark
3 seen at 'the site' after around 2 hours of fruitless searching. Just as we were leaving 2 flew over calling, then another was found singing on the fences c2km from the turn off on the left hand side. The farmer would have allowed us access to the fields if we had a 4x4 as he had White-bellied Korhaan on his land too

Rufous-naped Lark
Very common at Melodious Lark site with others seen at Wakkerstroom lark fields and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

Cape Clapper Lark
2 were just past the small reservoir on the Darling Farmland loop and another was just south of Velddrif along the R27

Eastern Clapper Lark
2 were seen at Wakkerstroom at the Pink-billed Lark fields

Alughus Clapper Lark
Several were seen around the Overberg farmland loop, but there are so many larks and pipits here it is impossible to stop to look at them all, if you are keeping to an itinerary

Rudd's Lark
Excellent views of 2 at the Wakkerstroom lark fields, we were shown their nest too, containing 2+ chicks, which obviously made the adults easier to find

Sabota Lark
2 were seen well, singing, just north of Cengeni Gate, Umfolozi

Karoo Lark
Just one was seen, just south of Eierkop, on the Tanqua Karoo

Spike-heeled Lark
A group of 3 were seen between Katbakkies turnoff and R354 turnoff along the R355 and another group of 5 were seen along the R354

Alguhus Long-billed Lark
Odd birds were seen around the Overberg farmlands, mainly to the west of De Hoop

Eastern Long-billed Lark
1 was seen well, singing, near Wakerstroom, The guide showed us a site for this one; the bird was heard before we got out of the car, easy birding sometimes!

Grey-backed (Finch) Sparrowlark
30+ were seen around the Overberg Farmland, with the best site being just south of the N2/R317 junction

Red-capped Lark
The commonest lark throughout Overberg Farmlands, Wakkerstroom and Tanqua Karoo

Pink-billed Lark
One heard briefly at Wakkerstroom lark fields, though too windy for this difficult species

Botha's Lark
Excellent views of 2 birds at Wakkerstroom lark fields, and 2 more heard

Large-billed Lark
Very common around Overberg Farmlands and long the West Coast

Cape Rock Thrush
A male was seen briefly at St Lowry's Pass, 4, 3 male, were along the lower slopes of Sani Pass and another male was at Bain's Kloof Pass, Ceres

Sentinel Rock Thrush
Seen much more than expected, 9, 7 males, on the Lesotho side of Sani Pass, mainly along the plain. Another pair was by the Chalet next day. 2 males were seen at Wakkerstroom lark fields

Spotted Ground Thrush
6 were found at Dlinza Forest, fairly easy to locate, seeing one within 2 minutes of entering the forest, also 3 already used nests located. The birds are unusual here in that they fly and sing among the leaf litter, apparently elsewhere they're mainly high up in the canopy singing. 2 were high up in the canopy, singing, at Dreadnought Farm

Olive Thrush
Common at Kirstenbosch BG and 10 were seen in the Wakkerstroom area

Southern Black Flycatcher
Fairly common at Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi reserves

Fiscal Flycatcher
Common east of the Cape, in Betty's Bay area also 1 seen at Darling

Spotted Flycatcher
Common at Mkuzi with others seen at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and De Hoop

African Dusky Flycatcher
Common and tame at Kirstenbosch BG and Constantia Greenbelt

Ashy Flycatcher
A single at Kloof in our friend's garden

White-starred Robin
A juvenile at Wakkerstroom 'forest'

Cape Robin-chat
Common around the Cape, especially Kirstenbosch BG and also in the Eshowe/Wakerstroom areas

Red-capped (Natal) Robin-chat
Common in Eshowe and St Lucia areas

Chorister Robin-chat
2 at Wakerstroom 'forest' with many sightings in the Eshowe forests

Brown Scrub-robin
One luckily was feeding along the path just after dawn on the Lourie walk at St Lucia, showing very well another was singing here. 1 was seen and another heard at Ongoye Forest

White-browed Scrub-robin
Common at Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Reserves

Karoo Scrub-robin
6 around the Overberg Farmlands and common around the Tanqua Karoo

African Stonechat
Recorded on 7 dates, common at Wakkerstroom and Overberg region

Buff-streaked Chat
Just a single female was seen below Sani Pass

Capped Wheatear
Common in the Overberg region and Wakkerstroom

Sickle-winged Chat
Surprisingly common along the plain above Sani Pass with 30+ seen, also 1 at Katbakkies

Karoo Chat
Common all over the Tanqua Karoo

Tractrac Chat
This distinctive, short-tailed chat was seen 6 times on the Tanqua Karoo, with the R354 being favoured

Familiar Chat
Common over many parts, recorded on 5 dates

Southern Anteating Chat
Common at Melodious Lark site and Wakerstroom with another on the Tanqua Karoo

Pale-winged Starling
6 were seen at Dawn heading out of Ceres with 2 next day at Michell's Pass

Red-winged Starling
Common, recorded on 15 dates

Black-bellied Starling
Common at Mkuzi, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and Eshowe area

Cape Glossy Starling
Recorded on 5 dates in Natal, present, though numbers not noted

Violet-backed (Plum-coloured) Starling
This excellent starling was common at Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi reserves

Pied Starling
Very common where present, recorded on 8 dates

Wattled Starling
Common along the West coast and Tanqua Karoo

Common Starling
Recorded on 13 dates

Common Myna
Recorded in Natal, mainly around towns

Red-billed Oxpecker
Regularly seen pecking away on mammals at Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

Orange-breasted Sunbird
Common at Kirstenbosch BG, also recorded at Michell's Pass and Rooi Els

Olive Sunbird
Singles at St Lucia, along the Lourie walk, and at Dreadnought Farm

Grey Sunbird
Recorded at Mkuzi, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and St Lucia, only odd birds seen though

Amethyst (Black) Sunbird
A pair by the entrance to Dlinza Forest

Scarlet-chested Sunbird
A single male at Ghost Mountain resort, Mkuzi

Malachite Sunbird
Very common at Sani Pass and Tanqua Karoo, also recorded at De Hoop

Collared Sunbird
Recorded at Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

Southern Double-collared Sunbird
Commonest sunbird around the Cape

Greater Double-collared Sunbird
Surprisingly easy to identify from above, several birds seen at Sani Pass, Mkuzi, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and Eshowe

White-bellied Sunbird
Recorded at Mkuzi, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and St Lucia

Marico Sunbird
A single male seen below Hill Top at Hluhluwe

Cape Sugarbird
6 at Kirstenbosch BG, 5 at Rooi Els and 1 at Michell's Pass, a very wierd, mechanical noise, made by these bizarre birds

Lesser Masked Weaver
At least 200 nests at Ghost Mountain Resort, by the car park, recorded at Mkuzi reserve too

Spectacled Weaver
Recorded at Kloof, Dreadnought Farm and St Lucia

Cape Weaver
Commonest weaver, recorded on 8 dates

Yellow Weaver
Common at Sugarloaf Camp, St Lucia and Dreadnought Farm

Southern Brown-throated Weaver
A single bird at Dreadnought Farm was the guides first in the area

Southern Masked Weaver
Common, recorded on 6 dates

Village Weaver
At least 500 nests at Ghost Mountain Resort, Mkuzi, common elsewhere in Natal

Dark-backed (Forest) Weaver
Singles males recorded at Mkuzi Fig Forest and Dreadnought Farm

Southern Red Bishop
Very common, often in large flocks, recorded on 12 dates. The females can look like any kind of bird, until a male pops up next to it to help with the id!

Yellow Bishop
Recorded on 9 dates

Fan-tailed (Red-shouldered) Widowbird
Common from Sani Pass to Wakkerstroom areas

White-winged Widowbird
Only a single recorded at Mkuzi

Red-collared Widowbird
Common in Natal, recorded on 5 dates

Long-tailed Widowbird
Very common on the Natal grasslands. Amazing how the males are able to fly with those tails

Thick-billed Weaver
15 at Ghost Mountain resort, Mkuzi with 2 at Muzi Pans and a female on the Lourie Walk, St Lucia

African Quailfinch
A surprise was having c25 of these great little birds land in front of us at the Melodious Lark site

Swee Waxbill
Just a single female at Dreadnought Farm. Also 2 were in a cage in the reptile shop at Richard's Bay, which doubles up as the Birdlife office!

Green Twinspot
A fabulous pair were at the east end of the Lourie Walk, along the main road at St Lucia, great views, but very hard to locate

Common Waxbill
Recorded on 8 dates, common and gregarious

Blue Waxbill
2 on the Kumahlala loop, Mkuzi and 5 at various points at Hluhluwe-Umflozi, a great looking bird

Bronze Mannikin
Recorded at Kloof and St Lucia on the Lourie Walk

Red-backed Mannikin
2 seen by the visitor centre at Dlinza Forest

Dusky Indigobird
Odd birds were seen along the roadside heading towards Wakkerstroom and Mkuzi

Pin-tailed Whydah
Recorded on 11 dates, mainly in singles though

Long-tailed Paradise-whydah
Odd males were seen from Sani Pass to Wakkerstroom with a another at Cezwana Pan

House Sparrow
Recorded on 13 dates

Cape Sparrow
Recorded on 8 dates, mainly away from towns

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow
Only 2 singles recorded, strangely by the Sani Pass Chalet among Siskens and Cape Sparrows, and another by the Cengeni Gate, Umfolozi

Yellow-throated Petronia
4 at Mkuzi Sand Forest, 2 at Hluhluwe and 2 at Dreadnought Farm

African Pied Wagtail
Recorded on 4 dates, mainly at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi and St Lucia

Cape Wagtail
Recorded on 9 dates, common around the Cape

Mountain Wagtail
A single was on the plain above Sani Pass while 15 were at Dreadnought Farm

Yellow-throated Longclaw
A single was singing at PFO site at Muzi Pans and 4 were in the Eshowe area whilst driving along fields

Cape (Orange-throated) Longclaw
2 were just off the N2 near Swellendam and good numbers were seen at Melodious Lark site and Wakkerstroom

Yellow-breasted Pipit
At the Wakkerstroom site for this species excellent views were had of 3 displaying birds, and another 3 on the ground. Easy to pick out in flight due to its bizarre low flying display

African Rock Pipit
Just 2 were seen, both in display and on the ground, 200 yards north of the Sani Pass chalet just inside of the ridge. Distinctive call

African (Grassveld) Pipit
Commonest pipit seen, common in most open areas, recorded on 8 dates

Mountain Pipit
1 was seen 2.5km past Sani Pass chalet by the roadside with another 2 displaying 1-300 yards north of the Sani Pass chalet

Plain-backed Pipit
Recorded in Overberg region and Wakkerstroom, though only 6 birds seen

Long-billed Pipit
Recorded on 2 occasions at Wakkerstroom

Common Chaffinch
Common at Afton Grove, Noordhoek

Cape Canary
Recorded on 12 dates, commonest canary at most sites

Forest Canary
3 were seen together in Xumeni Forest and a single at Wakkerstroom 'forest'

Yellow-fronted Canary
Common throughout Natal, mainly in more open areas

Yellow Canary
Recorded on 6 dates, mainly in pairs or singles, commonest by Sani Pass chalet

Brimstone (Bully) Canary
A single at De Hoop with 5 along the Overberg Farmland Loop

White-throated Canary
A single at Struis Bay car park with 3 at De Hoop NR and a single near Darling

Streaky-headed Canary (Seed-eater)
4 at the base of Sani Pass

Protea Canary (Seed-eater)
We were told of a site c20km north of Ceres, Gydro Pass Viewpoint car park, so we went up there late afternoon. We initially visited the first pull-in north of the car park, where we heard a singing bird below us, after a trek down to the base of the valley the bird was found singing on top of a small conifer. The car park itself produced several birds, walk 30 yards down the road to view the left hand side, where 4+ birds were calling in the bushes, another bird then appeared by the car park, with another 2 calling overhead. I think we would have still struggled with this hard to see bird if we hadn't of known the song, though the song given was often completely different to the tape, so look for every canary like song in this area

Black-headed Canary
A pair and a single male were along the R317 just off the N2 near the Overberg Farmland loop

Cape Siskin
Common along Michell's and Bain's Kloof Passes, with several birds flying over, occasionally perching briefly

Drakensberg Siskin
6 were seen on the ascent of Sani Pass, though there really is no need to search for these birds or attempt decent views until you reach the Sani Pass Chalet, as they put out seed for the birds by the veranda here. This allows fantastic close range views. Birds are also present in good numbers in the small compound behind the Lesotho boarder crossing office

Lark-like Bunting
Just a single bird was seen, towards the beginning of the Darling Farmland Loop

Cape Bunting
These tame birds were recorded on 4 dates, with Rooi Els, Sani Pass and the West Coast NP being top spots

Golden-breasted Bunting
2 of these superb buntings were at Mkuzi Sand Forest with 3 at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi


African Elephant
5 were seen along the track south of Cengeni Gate, Umfolozi, including a huge male, 2 other smaller males, one of which took to smashing down every tree in its wake! A further 2 were by the river

White Rhino
Several were seen at Mkuzi and Hluhluwe-Umfolozi reserves, including some very close approaches, and calves

Black Rhino
2 ran across the road and quickly vanished at Mkuzi

Common on the game reserves

8 were at Mkuzi with several at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

Water Buffalo
Common at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

Blue Wildebeest
Common on game reserves

Spotted Hyena
10 were seen on the night drive at Hluhluwe, giving great views, completely unconcerned by our vehicle. A pack of 8 were watched chasing each other, while one had a Water Buffalos hoof!

Nile Crocodile
One was seen swimming at Nsumo Pan, Mkuzi

Groups were seen at Muzi Pan and at the river mouth at St Lucia

Samango Monkey
Seen at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

Vervet Monkey
Common in Natal

Chacma Baboon
Common throughout

White-tailed Mongoose
Seen at Mkuzi and Hluhluwe

Burchell's Zebra
Common at Hluhluwe-Umfolozi

Mountain Zebra
Small numbers at De Hoop NR

Common at West Coast NP

Common on the game reserves

Common on game reserves

Present on game reserves

Present on game reserves, and a cooked one on the menu of the returning Lufthansa flight, along with Springbok.

Present on game reserves

Common or Bush Duiker
Present on game reserves

Red Duiker
Seen at St Lucia 

Cape Grysbok
A few at West Coast NP

Fairly common in its range

Common in De Hoop NR

Common in parts of Natal

Southern Right Whale
10 females with 5+ calves off De Hoop NR, some allowing great views with a telescope

Bryde's Whale
1 seen briefly on the pelagic

Common Dolphin
A pod of perhaps 400 were seen just behind the Cape on the pelagic

Dusky Dolphin
Upto 50 of these great little dolphins were seen on our return on the pelagic

Cape Fur Seal
Common on pelagic

This poisonous snake was seen at Dlinza Forest, where our guide almost trod on it! After I'd just been walking through all the leaf litter in search of a Trogon, that put an end to walking off the trail! A great little snake, looks like a minature Green Mamba!

Further photographs and information can be found on my website at

If you need any further information please feel free to contact me:

James Eaton
17 Keats Avenue
Derby, UK


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