Birding South Africa - November 2001 - DailyLog 

First Part of the Daily Log: 11.11.2001 - 20.11.2001
11.11.2001 (Arrival, Cape Town) - 12.11. (Strandfontein, Bredasdorp, De Mond NR) - 13.11. (DeHoop Nature Reserve) - 14.11. (De Hoop NR, Swellendam,Nature's Valley) - 15.11. (Nature's Valley, WildernessRegion) -    16.11. (Wilderness National Park, Oudtshoorn)- 17.11. (Swartberg Pass, Tanqua Karoo, Paarl BirdSanctuary)- 18.11. (Pelagic Seabirding off Simonstown/CapeTown) - 19.11. (West Coast National Park) - 20.11.2001 (Veldrif, Lambert's Bay)

Second Part of the daily log: Clanwilliam - Kenhardt - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - Upington - Springbok - Cape Town 21.11.2001 - 4.12.2001


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11.11.2001
We had a flight directly from Munich to Cape Town, which arrived shortly after midnight. Fortunately we were picked up by our friends Suzette and Peter Silbernagl. After a few hours sleep and breakfast Peter and Suzette showed us around on the Cape Peninsula. Still in their garden in Newlands we found the first birds like Olive Thrush, Lesser Doublecollared Sunbird, Cape Whiteeye, Cape Robin etc.. Kirstenbosch On the short drive to Kirtstenbosch Botanical Garden we had Sacred and Hadeda Ibis. The Garden itself started with a Rameron Pigeon at the entrance. Cape Sugarbirds, Cape Francolin, Karoo Prinia, Southern Boubou, Sombre Bulbul etc. followed. Highlights were 2 Black Saw-Wing Swallows, an African Goshawk and an exclusive Gymnogene.
Heading southwards around Muizenberg we had the first Egyptian Geese, Kelp and Hartlaub's Gull as well as single Southern Right Whales and Cape Fur Seals more or less close to the shore. At Boulders Beach near Simon's Town a visit to the Penguin Colony produced of course lots of Jackass Penguins but also Cape Gannet, Cape Wagtail, Swift and Sandwich Terns, African Black Oystercatcher, Cape Canary and Orangebreasted Sunbird.
Table Mountain In the Cape of Good Hope Reserve we found the first bigger mammals like Savanna Baboon, Bontebok and Eland. Interesting birds: all coastal cormorant species, Redwinged Starlings, Cape Bunting, Bokmakierie, Malachite Sunbird and the first Ostrichs on the beach.
Heading northwards along the western coast of the peninsula we found some more Southern Right Whales and at a small pond near Kommetjie the first Blackheaded Heron and a not very exciting Dabchick. In late afternoon we took the cable car to the top of the Table Mountain.
In the evening hours we listened to a Knysna Warbler which had his home near the garden of Suzette and Peter.

12.11.2001
Peter Silbernagl took me and his dog very early in the morning(before 6 am) again to Kirstenbosch. Although being a little bit in a hurry we managed to do a part of the so-called Contour Trail and had nice birds like a Cinnamon Pigeon, African Paradise Flycatcher and Cape Batis.
Strandfontein Sewage Works After breakfast we said good bye to the Silbernagls and went to the Strandfontein Sewage Works. Access is free, but you have to ask for permission to drive around. The area turned out to be very good for waterbirds like several duck species, Greater Flamingos and also single Eastern White Pelicans. We only found one Purple Gallinule, but had some waders like Greenshank, Avocets, Blacksmith Plover etc..
On our way eastwards we made a short stopover at Sir Lowry's Pass but since it was very windy we didn't manage to find one bird. At Caledon we left the N2 and went on R316 towards Bredasdorp. Along the road we saw our first Southern Red Bishop, although very common the bright red plumage of these birds was always impressive. Other birds were some Yellowbilled Kites, Blue Cranes and an impressive immature Martial Eagle. Besides some Small Grey Mongoose a Grey Rhebok could also be added to our mammal list.
From Bredasdorp we followed the instructions in Essential Birding to the Damara Tern Colony in the De Mond Nature Reserve. After leaving the main road R319 we found some juvenile Spotted Eagle Owls and Barthroated Apalis. When we went to the beach we didn't bother to search for the colony since we immediately found two Damara Terns at the water line together with a Sanderling. On the way back we also found an adult Black Harrier and some Greywing Francolin along the R319.
In the evening we drove to Buchu Bushcamp near De Hoop NatureReserve. Since we arrived at about 8 pm in total darkness, it was a kind of night drive which produced a very nice male Cape Grysbok and a Hare.

13.11.2001
In the morning we drove through farmland towards the Potberg area of De Hoop Nature Reserve. Along this road we found a Karoo Korhaan, three Stanley's Bustards, Cape Agulhas Longbilled Lark, Southern Thickbilled Lark, Redcapped Lark, Grassbird, Pintailed Whydah etc.
In the Potberg area we took the Klipspringer Trail. Although there were only few birds we managed to see some of the Cape Vultures, two Black Eagles, a Cape Rock Thrush, two Cape Siskins, Familiar Chat and Karoo Robin.
Coast at De Hoop NR Afterwards we entered the main entrance of the De Hoop Nature Reserve. Bigger mammals like Eland, Mountain Zebra, Bontebok and Baboon are easily found here, especially the Tier Hoek on the Circular Drive offered a great view with many mammals. For birds the long lake (Vlei) is of interest. Views on that lake were possible from Tier Hoek, the campground and Die Mond. Near Die Mond, which was the only place with more open water, were two Whiskered Terns and some waders, at the other places were African Spoonbills, Herons and some Hamerkops. At the coastal area Koppie Allen there were some African Black Oystercatcher, Turnstones, Grey Plover, Sanderlings and a Pomarine Skua. For the night we stayed with some Spotted Dikkop on the campground in the reservat. As darkness fell we left the camp again since we did not know that it is not allowed to make night drives. Before a ranger stopped us to tell us not to drive around at night we found a Caracal and a Fierynecked Nightjar.

14.11.2001
Farmlands Some birdwatching around the Campground in De Hoop produced Southern Tchagra, a flock Wattled Starlings, a Marsh Sandpiper etc.. From De Hoop we took the road towards Swellendam. Along this road we found our first Secretarybird right at the beginning, two Karoo Korhaans and lateron a pair Spurwinged Geese. At the place where there should be a Horus Swift colony according to Essential Birding, we found some Hyrax (Rock Dassies) and also saw some Swifts with white rumps which most probably were Horus Swifts.
In Swellendam we took again on the N2 and drove eastwards until we reached Nature's Valley at the eastern end of the Garden Route. After setting up our tent at the De Vasselot Campsite we took the walk along the closeby Groot River. Although it soon started raining we walked till the mouth of the river. We soon found some beautiful Knysna Louries, a small group of gregarious Redbilled Woodhoopoes, one Olive Woodpecker, Grey Cuckooshrikes and Eastern Blackheaded Oriole. The area was also good for Bushbuck, an antelope which is common along the river.
When we arrived at the beach we saw in the upcoming fog two Water Dikkops and a Pied Kingfisher.

15.11.2001
Groot River, Natures Valley A morning walk around the campground and along the Groot River presented us with two Vervet Monkeys, Reed Cormorants, a Dusky Flycatcher, Swee Waxbills, Terrestrial Bulbuls, Chorister Robins, Blackbacked Puffback and an African Black Sunbird. A walk along the beach produced a single Whitefronted Plover.
Taking the road R102 with panoramic views on the river delta from the Bloukrans Pass we came back to the N2 which brought us westwards to the Wilderness Region. We set up our tent at Ebb and Flow in Wilderness National Park. Since it was very windy there were only few birds on the vleis (lakes), an African Fish Eagle soared over Langvlei, Reed Cormorants were common. Along the roads to the Vleis were Jackal Buzzards, African Marsh Harrier and Steppe Buzzard. At the closeby "Big Tree", an area with a small forest patch, we found Forest Buzzard, Yellowthroated Warbler and some of the species which were also typical for Nature's Valley.

16.11.2001
Wilderness NP We got up early and did the Halfcollared Kingfisher Trail. This trail is through dense forests along the river with a loop which offers a panoramic view on the area. We started with Greater Doublecollared Sunbird at the bridge where the trail starts. Along the trail were Terrestrial Bulbuls,Greenbacked Bleating Warblers, Olive Woodpeckers, Knysna Louries etc..
After that we relaxed for a while on the beach, drove another time along the different vleis with not much new and hired a canoe for about two hours with which we took the same direction as in the morning on the trail. This time we had more success with the Halfcollared Kingfisher! The river is very scenic towards inland. After a while you have to leave the canoe and go on foot also through a nice forest.
North of Oudtshoorn In the afternoon we drove via George to Oudtshoorn with some Pearlbreasted Swallows along the road. Oudtshoorn is known as Ostrich Capital and so we bought an empty Ostrich egg (empty: 18 Rand, 2.2 Euro, full: 25 Rand, 3 Euro). About 20 km past Oudtshoorn we turned right towards a campground where we stayed for the night. There is also a waterfall signposted which we tried to visit in the evening. When we arrived it was already closed but along the road we found Rufousvented Titbabbler and Neddicky as well as some hares and donkeys.

17.11.2001
Today we took the Swartberg Pass. Unfortunately it was very windy so we had only few birds on the way up like a Protea Canary. With the help of a tape we heard also a Victorins Warbler, but had absolutely no chance to find the bird in the windshaked vegetation. On the way down towards the Karoo we were very pleased to find a beautiful male Cape Rockjumper a few kilometers after the highest point. Other birds were a Booted Eagle and a Black Stork. Before entering Prince Albert we had a Cape Rock Thrush.
At Prince Albert Road we came on the N1 and after passing Touwsriver we took the R46 to make the Tanqua Karoo Loop recommended by Essential Birding. We saw some more Booted Eagles and at a dam also an African Fish Eagle. Since we drove during midday hours and had only few stops we saw only very few birds but the landscape is very scenic.At the Bainskloof we saw a Eurasian Hobby.
Paarl Bird Sanctuary The next site we visited was the Paarl Bird Sanctuary which is signposted starting from the R301. The sanctuary is the nicest sewage farm I ever visited! You have to ask for permission (free) at the entrance and then you can drive around. There are two or three hides, all worth visiting. Besides Malachite Kingfisher, Giant Kingfisher, African Black Duck, Pelicans and many shorebirds we also saw Fulvous Duck and an African Jacana.
After that we drove to Cape Town and spent the night camping at Oatsland near Simonstown where we met Jochen Dierschke and Silke Schmitt, who also joined the pelagic the next day.

18.11.2001
A pelagic is an absolute must for every birder visiting the cape. They are run on a regular basis starting from Simonstown, for dates and booking details visit http://www.capetownpelagics.com.
Pelagic We started our pelagic with ZEST II and three experienced guides (Alvin Cope, Jim Enticott, Ian Sinclair) at 7:00 am. Leaving the harbour we had calm weather but after passing Cape Point the sea turned rough and it soon started raining. Nevertheless we soon saw the first albatros,a Shy Albatros. Some Black-browed Albatros and few Yellow-nosed Albatros followed. The latter were mostly juveniles, but also at least one adult which was identified by our guides as being of the Indian Ocean race (or species). Two Manx Shearwaters, single Greatwinged Petrels, many Sooty Shearwaters and Whitechinned Petrels followed. After some hours we found a fishing trawler surrounded by many seabirds. The highlight was surely a Wandering Albatros but I also enjoyed Wilson's Petrel, Great Shearwaters and Pintado Petrel. Ian Sinclair found a Long-tailed Skua and a Fleshfooted Shearwater. Cape Gannets were very common and we also had some Sabine's Gulls, Subantarctic Skuas and ArcticTerns. But when we turned back towards Simonstown not only those suffering severly from seasickness were happy to get back on land.
In the late afternoon we met Callan Cohen at Kirstenbosch. After giving us some advice he showed us a nesting Redbreasted Sparrowhawk. We stayed in a pension in Cape Town for the night.

19.11.2001
We left Cape Town and took the R27 northwards. After a few kilometers there are some small ponds along the road like the so called Dolphin Beach Pans with some ducks, a Purple Heron and a Night Heron. On another pond south of the turn to Melkbosstrand and opposite of a TOTAL petrol station we found a Whitebacked Duck. 
We took the Darling Hills Road about 40 kilometers north of the Dolphin Beach Pans and did the Darling Farmlands Loop through the area east of the R27. Although we had not that many birds we enjoyed the countryside and after about 38 kilometers we came back on the R27.
Flowers Shortly afterwards we found the turn left from the R27 towards the West Coast National Park. This park has some interesting mudflats with very good hides like the famous Geelbek mudflat bird hide and the Seeberg Hide. Birds on these mudflats were mostly shorebirds like Little Stint, Curlew Sandpipers, Knots, Whitefronted and Ringed Plovers, but also Little Tern and some Gulls at the lagoons.
In the drier areas of the park we found Steenbok and big tortoises but also some birds like many Stonechats, some Larklike Buntings, a Cape Penduline Tit, a far away Orangethroated Longclaw, Black Harrier, about threee Southern Black Korhaan and European Beeeaters.
For the night we stayed at Columbine, a park at the coast southwest of Paternoster.

20.11.2001
After checking out the area around our campground at Columbine we found Cape Bunting, Cape Francolin, three Banded Martins, Karoo Robin, Greybacked Cisticola etc..
Veldrif Roadside birding on the way towards Velddrif produced a Secretary Bird, Sicklewinged Chats, Anteating Chats and Southern Grey Tit. At Velddrif we visited the Cerebos salt works. When asking for permission to enter they told us not to drive but only to walk in the area because of the bad road conditions. Unfortunately it soon started raining. Birds in the area were lots of shorebirds including Whimbrel and Chestnutbanded Plover as well as Greater Flamingo, Pied Kingfisher and Malachite Sunbird.
After asking for the key at the Hotel Riviera we went into the Riviera Mudflat hide. The hide gave us views of some Eurasian Curlews and a Caspian Tern. In the far distance we also discovered a flock of Lesser Flamingos.
The harbour of Velddrif hosted besides numerous Hartlaub's Gulls also some Greyheaded Gulls. We then took the gravelled road along the coast to Lambert's Bay. Although we found Cape Longbilled Lark we do NOT recommend the route, since the roads are not that good!
Lamberts Bay The harbour in Lambert's Bay is very impressive! After paying a fee we entered the area. Crested Cormorants nest on the boats and the rocks are full of Cape Cormorants. There are also Swift and Common Terns as well as nesting Kelp Gulls, but most impressive is a Cape Gannet colony with several thousand breeding birds. In this reserve we also saw some Jackass Penguins and Cape Fur Seals. Near the campground in Lambert's Bay where we stayed for the night is a small lake which had some ducks including a family of South African Shelduck with three pulli.

Second Part of the daily log: Clanwilliam - Kenhardt - Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park - Upington - Springbok - Cape Town 21.11.2001 - 4.12.2001

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