South Africa


Neil Arnold (Travelling Naturalist)

Mark and Jean Caulton (Pelican Safaris)


It has been a delight to travel with Mark and Jean once again; no better companions exist Worldwide. To them I offer my thanks. Once again the essence of the success of this trip has been energetic contributions from you all.

I even enjoyed the flowers !

I hope I'll have the opportunity to travel with you all again.

Best wishes

Neil Arnold

Sept 2000


27th August - 2nd September: Hot calm days, cold overnight.

3rd - 4th September : A passing cold front. Cloudy mornings, clear warm

afternoons. Cold overnight.

5th - 9th September : Warm days, cloud increasing as we moved south. Cool


10th - 17th September : Increasing cloud. Mainly fine but some showers

from Lamberts Bay south to the Cape.


Sunday 27th August. Arrive Kimberley via Johannesburg

Mark and Jean drove to Witsand


At first light Africa emerged from the darkness. Vervet Monkeys climbed in the tree tops while Springbok grazed nearby.

A short walk revealed such splendours as Crimson-breasted Shrikes and showy Melba Finches. Then followed sightings of the spectacular male Violet-eared Waxbill, Red-headed Finches and the more subtle Scaly-feathered Finch. A male Pygmy Falcon then sat quietly eating a gecko while we watched at point blank range.

Lunch was shared with the very local Ashy Tit.


An early walk was to bring us into contact with a range of songbirds, and Pearl-spotted Owlet.

Our journey to Upington was punctuated at the Orange River by a positive orgy of wetland birding, during which we recorded Goliath Heron, Hamerkop and three species of duck, including White-backed Duck.

At Upington we were soon watching African Hoopoe, Pied Kingfishers, Egyptian Geese, Reed Cormorants and Darters.

Wednesday 30th Aug. UPINGTON

We were soon on the road to the Kalahari National Park. En route we flushed hundreds of Grey-backed Finch Larks from the roadside. We also noted a flock of Namaqua Sandgrouse and a fine Martial Eagle.

A brief stop at Molopo enabled us to watch African Palm Swifts, Groundscraper Thrush and a Giant Eagle Owl on a nest.

As soon as we arrived at Twee Rivieren Camp in the Kalahari National Park we came across Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Bru-bru and Pririt Batis. The evening drive was most entertaining, introducing us to our first Ostriches, Secretary Birds, Red-crested Korahaan and Giant Kestrel. We were also able to marvel at the magnificence of the elegant Gemsbok. A lone Red-crested Korhaan allowed us good views as it stood at the roadside.

As we drove back to the camp we discovered a fine Cheetah which we were able to watch for twenty minutes as it quietly walked on a parallel course. What a way to finish the day !

Thursday 31st Aug TWEE RIVEREN

The morning was to be dominated by birds of prey. Ten species were recorded, the most common of which was the stunning Black-shouldered Kite. Pale chanting Goshawk, Gabar Goshawk, Lanner Falcon and the larger Tawny Eagles and Bateleur were also much in evidence. Perhaps the most dramatic incident of the day though was the sudden explosive chase which developed when a pair of Red-necked Falcon set upon a Black-shouldered Kite which had presumably infringed their territorial boundary.

Kori Bustards and Northern Black Korhaans also delighted us.

The undoubted climax of the morning drive was the location of eight Meerkats all standing upright keenly watching a soaring Tawny Eagle. This was a true delight.

The evening drive allowed us views of such diverse creatures at Cape Cobra, a male Namaqua Sandgrouse at rest close to the vehicle and a lone Spotted Eagle Owl sat on a rocky outcrop.

Just before dinner two Barn Owls started to quarter the sand dunes in the camp.

Friday 1st Sept TWEE RIVIEREN

We made an early start on our drive to Nossop Camp in order to avoid the mid-day heat. Soon we stopped to admire a Giant Eagle Owl and chick in a nest on top of the huge communal nest of Social Weavers. Every so often Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters dashed out from roadside trees as did a single Chat Flycatcher.

Raptors and Secretary Birds abounded. Rain some weeks back seemed to have affected the small mammal population, and there were Striped Mice everywhere. We sometimes saw eight or ten in the same place. This would appear to have encouraged the birds of prey to breed - we saw most of the local species on nests.

As we approached the Rooiputs waterhole we saw a huge Kalahari Lion, the biggest race in the world. This individual was a male of some four or five years of age. It sported a well developed mane but it was yet to turn black. It quietly walked from the waterhole along the road marking a couple of trees during its unhurried progress.

A little later we noted an African Wildcat sat in an open area near the road. To find a Wildcat in daylight was really lucky. The cat soon walked off towards a bank on which grew a number of gnarled trees. Almost as soon as it had reached the trees it lowered itself into a sleek stalking position and then with lightning speed pounced on a mouse which it carried away in its mouth.

Our next delight was a small herd of the elegant Red Hartebeest quietly grazing by the roadside.

Then as we rounded a corner we heard a crash as two male Gemsbok joined in the territorial combat. In the middle of a cloud of dust the two great beasts had hooked horns and were pushing each other's heads towards the ground, tails flicking. Then suddenly one submitted, and a period of grazing took place, no doubt a form of displacement activity. Then one began to thrash the low woody vegetation with its horns. The final outcome was that of a return to normality - the two walking away towards the sand dunes. A Jackal, which had been watching the conflict, moved off as the huge antelopes passed by.

It was hot as we reached Nossop. Out first impression was of intense dryness. This was reinforced by the sight of hundreds of finches perched in the trees around a small birdbath. The importance of this two metre diameter bath became obvious as we watched from one of the windows of our lodge. In an hour over a dozen species came to drink including Red-headed Finch and Crimson-breasted Shrike.

After a prolonged search we managed to find a White-faced Owl that we were told always roosted in one of the trees nears the shop. It was thrilling to watch this most elegant of owls.

Then came the night drive. Fortunately we were the only clients on the four hour drive which took us out into the field, in some cases to places where the general public had no access. It is hard to describe the thrill of being in the African bush at night. We were lucky to see a wide range of mammals and owls in the powerful spotlights. These included Spotted Eagle Owl, Barn Owl and a perched Pearl-spotted Owlet, Springhares, Cape Fox, Bat-eared Fox and four more African Wildcats.

Seeing so many Wildcats in a day was exceptional.

Saturday 2nd Sept. NOSSOP

We would have like to have spent another day at Nossop but getting bookings at the camp is always difficult and we felt privileged to have spent a day there.

The drive back to Twee Rivieren was full of interest, the highlight being excellent views of a Black-bellied Snake Eagle.

Sunday 3rd Sept. TWEE RIVIEREN

Our aim today was to drive to Augrabies Falls National Park, the "place of great noise".

We set off early, had lunch in Upington and arrived in Augrabies in the early afternoon.

The impressive boulder-strewn landscape breached by a deep dramatic gorge was such a contrast from the sandy Kalahari.

We were greeted by Alpine Swifts, Pale-winged Starlings and Little Grey Mongoose. Soon though we were searching the walls of the gorge for raptors. Mark soon found a Peregrine sitting in a cleft in the gorge. Soon after two African Fish-Eagles soared over the camp, their evocative calls stirring the soul.

Monday 4th Sept. AUGRABIES

At 06.30 we approached the gate to the reserve. We were to be the first ones to drive in the park that day. Klipspringers, the specialist rock climbing antelope, soon showed themselves as they browsed near the road.

One of our objectives was to see Black Eagles. At the first nest site we watched a adult feeding a young one and high above the male on lookout duty. At the second great cliff the female was feeding another youngster but the male was nowhere to be seen.

Songbirds then became the focus of our concentration until we reached one of the small streams which crisscross the area. Here we discovered a single African Black Crake.

By mid-morning we'd set off on a walk across the boulder-strewn route to Moon Rock. A careful scrutiny of the Alpine Swifts eventually enabled us to identify a single Bradfield's Swift. As we watched, Hadada Ibis and a Black Stork soared overhead. Then a wonderful full adult Black Eagle flew past at close range. Other delights included Long-billed Crombec, Red-billed Firefinch and a Malachite Kingfisher.

A brief evening drive during which we had a short walk revealed a Striated Heron and three Cape Francolin.

And so to bed.

Tuesday 5th Sept. AUGRABIES

The long drive to the Goegap Nature Reserve seemed to be over in an instant. The section beyond Upington was only notable for the raptors, 13 Kestrel, 2 Pale Chanting Goshawks, 4 Greater Kestrels, Jackal Buzzards and a pair of Lanner Falcons, except that is for the flyby by three sturdy Ludwig's Bustards.

By mid-morning we were enjoying the flowers at Goegap. Other notable features included Malachite Sunbirds, a Karoo Lark, Capped Wheatears, Layard's Tit Babbler and Karoo Eremomela.

As we drove to Kamieskroon we also saw our first Booted Eagle and three Black-headed Canaries feeding by the roadside.

Our stay at Kamieskroon was to start well. Opposite the hotel was an area of dry Karoo in the middle of which were huge granite boulders. On these boulders were three Meerkats. Over the next couple of days we were to see up to seven individuals which interacted readily with three Yellow Mongoose.

Wednesday 6th Sept. KAMIESKROON

This was to be a day dedicated to flowers.

After breakfast we drove the short distance to the house of Lita Cole. Lita is the local flower expert. We are not referring here to a dry academic but to an enthusiast bursting with the joy of local flowers

Lita's first act was to show us the collection of flowers she had persuaded to grow in her garden, an area of land which ranged from the horizonatal farm land to a near vertical Koppje.

Lita not only knew the scientific names of the plants but those in Afrikaans and English (her second language). The most fascinating aspect of this guided tour was her knowledge of the medical and social uses of the plants. Neil was even made to wear one as an ear-ring but sadly it soon fell off ! Neil was really disappointed that Lita couldn't recommend a herbal mixture that induced instant hair growth !

One of the other delights of Lita's garden was a colony of Dassie Rats that ran in and out of the crevices in the boulders.

Once the sun was high enough to bring about the opening of the flowers we made for the Skilplad Nature Reserve, a wonderful area of succulent Karoo. Here there was a landscape fascinating in both the broad canvas, a myriad of colourful flowers on the grassland farmland and in the fine brush strokes of tiny plants hidden amongst the woody plants of the Karoo.

There were reptiles too, Spiny and Southern Agama and the rather prehistoric looking Peer's Girdled Lizard.

Birds were also well represented. We watched Large-billed Larks and the tiny Cape Penduline Tits as well as our first Karoo Prinias in intervals between the plant studies. As we ate lunch Clapper Larks sang and displayed all around us.

Whilst in the Karoo we were constantly bombarded with the calls of the Northern Black Korhaan: but could we see one - no ! Then, came the light aircraft. As it flew over a Korhaan left the ground and performed its full display. Within seconds two other birds joined the fray. This was not the end of the excitement, the large tree at the visitor centre housed, a pair of Booted Eagles which were seen to mate.

As we drove away from the reserve two Grey-winged Francolin calmly walked out of the bush and fed right next to the vehicle. This was gratifying because this species can be very confiding.

Once back at the hotel we spent more time watching Meerkats.

Thursday 7th Sept. KAMIESKROON

Local birdwatching occupied us before breakfast. Later we set off for the village of Soebatsfontein, driving along dust roads over the Grootvlei and Killian passes. Early in the drive whilst we were in arable country we sighted a pair of Spur-winged Geese and an adult Black Harrier. Unfortunately the harrier floated over the ridge so we only had a glimpse. Soon we were passing through more arid 'sheep country'. At one point two Karoo Korhaan exploded from the roadside and flew to a nearby ridge. This gave us an opportunity to observe them through the telescope. Almost simultaneously two Ludwig's Bustards appeared on the other side of the road. To see both of these species together was wonderful

The rest of the drive was dominated by larks: Grey-backed Finch Larks, Spikeheaded Larks, Large-billed Larks, Long-billed Larks and Red-capped Larks. A Long-billed Pipit also put in an appearance.

The late afternoon was spent searching the area around the hotel.

Friday 8th Sept. KAMIESKROON

The drive to Clanwillian was uneventful except for the sighting of a Ludwigs Bustard 30K north of Vanrhynsdorp.

On our arrival at Clanwilliam we visited the Glower Church (Blommekerk) to marvel at the annual 'Wildflower Show' which featured many of the flowers of the Fynbos. We then indulged in more local culture by buying our lunch from the local church ladies.

Lambert's Bay was nearby so we were soon scanning the area around the harbour. Gulls, terns, and great skeins of cormorants flew off shore and almost every surface around the harbour seemed to be packed with more cormorants. Cape Cormorants were nesting on boats, on the quay and on a pile of dolosse awaiting use as coastal defences. A single Crowned Cormorant was noted amongst the Cape Cormorants.

We then visited a hide that was disguised as a rocky outcrop. In front of the hide, within three metres, was the near edge of a huge breeding colony of Cape Gannets. The sight and smell was memorable. Beyond the gannets were more cormorants including scattered Greater Cormorants and a small group of Bank Cormorants on the rocks nearest the sea. The local warden then pointed out a young Southern Giant Petrel sitting on the sea; this was totally unexpected.

Nearby was a small colony of Jackass Penguins. These birds we watched at leisure.

A Pied Kingfisher and Giant Kingfisher also fished nearby. A White-fronted Plover also appeared on the scene.

The majority of Cape Fur Seal were basking on distant rocks but just as we decided it was time to return to the hotel for dinner a small group porpoised across the bay straight at us.

Saturday 9th Sept. LAMBERTS BAY

In the early morning we visited the harbour again.

The drive to Velddrif was uneventful. We stopped to watch Southern Black Korhaan, a flock of Blue Cranes and a number of Yellow-billed Kites.

The estuary at Velddrif was alive with birds. Once we'd settled into the hide it was difficult to know what to look at first. Ducks and waders mingled with Glossy Ibis, Spoonbills and a flock of Greater and Lesser Flamingoes. Terns were also active, including a lone White-winged Tern.

En route to Langebaan we came across a pair of Blue Cranes within (80 metres of the road). As we stopped they started to dance. This made a perfect end to the day's birdwatching.

In the evening we drove the short distance along the beach to Muisbosskerm, the first open air restaurant in South Africa. The restaurant turned out to be a rectangular compound protected by walls of cut brushwood to keep out the wind - each end also had a tented roof. On the seaward side was a narrow access to the shore and a stunning sunset.

As we drank our wine the restaurant prepared an amazing array of seafood. The dishes came in waves "until we were totally full of food." The food was either cooked on open fires or in clay ovens. The finale was the production of a whole roast lamb!

Sunday 10th Sept. LANGEBAAN

The West Coast National Park consists of a mosaic of fynbos, reedbed, salt marsh estuarine mudflats and a rocky promontory called Postburg.

On the drive into the park we noted two Southern Black Korhaan. Once in the park we scanned an area of mudflats but decided the tide was still too low to bring the waders into easy range. Consequently we set off for Postburg.

En route we were lucky enough to gain good views of both African Marsh Harrier and Black Harriers.

Driving around Postburg enabled us to see a range of mammals, including the first Bontebok of the trip and three Cape Zebra. The Bontebok were especially admired.

During a brief stop on the rocky shore four Giant Petrels flew by at very close range. These we thought might also be of the Southern species.

As the tide rose it was time to visit an excellent hide right on the edge of the saltmarsh. As soon as we settled into the hide we realised that there was a wide variety of waders to be seen. Eventually we identified fifteen species including a substantial flock of Red Knot.

As we left the park gates we were to be privileged to enjoy a sight seldom witnessed by naturalists. A pair of Ostrich were mating, the female overwhelmed by the male who was waving his neck from side to side while dipping first one wing and then the other in a quivering motion. As the pair parted, the female still retained a submissive position and the male's organ remained erect. (Ostrich are the only birds in which the male's organ is prominently extended beyond the contour feathers).

Our next objective was to drive to Hout Bay, Cape Town, via the Sanccob centre (South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) to see how they operated. Some of the penguins oiled in the M.V. Treasure spill off Robin Island were still 'in care' as were a few gulls and cormorants. Thousands of birds had been released, some of which we had already seen. (They are readily identified by a pink spot on the breast).

Once we had freshened up Fabian and Lesley set off for home.

Monday 11th Sept. HOUT BAY

Our intention was to ride in the cable car to the summit of Table Mountain.

We set off to Signal Hill to assess the weather on the mountain. Once there we were surrounded by a wheeling throng of Black Swifts. Having decided that the weather on Table Mountain was going to be good we made for the cable car station, only to find that it was closed for maintenance for the next couple of weeks. We were disappointed.

Plan B was put into operation. We then went to the delightful National Botanical Garden at Kirstenbosch. Here we enjoyed the plants and birds and an excellent lunch. The Protea garden was undoubtedly the best for birds enabling us to gain close views of Cape Sugarbird, Cape Canary, Sombre Bulbul, Grassbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird. Two black Saw-wing Swallows also appeared from time to time. Once we'd been to the Conservatory to admire the collection of plants arranged according to their biomes, and of course the shop, we moved on.

Groot Constantia was our final venue of the day. This three hundred year old estate was the first farm in the Cape. It is now a prestigious vineyard. Here we toured the house and ancient winery. Then we had to go through the hardship of tasting half a dozen different wines before collecting our group purchase.

Tuesday 12th Sept. HOUT BAY

Our aim was to reach the Jackass Penguin Colony at Boulder's Beach, Simon's Town.

As we bordered False Bay en route we enjoyed our first sightings of Southern Right Whales. At least ten individuals were quietly swimming in the shallow bay. At least two pairs were mating, the females' flippers waving above the surface of the sea.

At the penguin colony we revelled in close views of adults and young and most excitingly adults swimming at speed beneath the clear water.

We then moved on to the Cape Peninsula National park reaching Cape Point with the aid of the funicular railway and the circumnavigating the inquisitive Baboons on the way back to the vehicle.

At the nearby Cape of Good Hope there was yet another whale off shore. We also had great views of Bontebok and Eland.

Lunch at Olifantsbos Bay enabled us to scan the seaweed strews beach on which there were many feeding birds. Waders and Sacred Ibis mingled with terns and Egyptian Geese. The most striking feature of this group was a loose flock of African Black Oyster-catchers. Overhead was a fine Caspian Tern.

On the land we were accosted by the group of Grassbirds, Bokmakierie and Southern Boubou.

A brief stop at Kommetjie brought us into contact with yet more terns and gulls.

Wednesday 13th Sept. HOUT BAY

As we left our lodge we noted a pair of Chaffinch, an introduced species which has survived in a small area of Cape Town.

Today was to be spent in the local wetlands. Our first venue was the Strandfontein Sewage Works; yes we always include the best sites in The Travelling Naturalist. Fortunately we were able to drive around the ponds as the rain increased. Vast numbers of water birds were scattered over the area including a pink smudge which as we closed on it became a flock of two hundred Greater Flamingo. Nearby was another pale pink flock of White Pelicans. Grebes, gallinules, ibis, waders, ducks and herons abounded.

Hundreds of swifts wheeled overhead in the mist. Most were Black Swifts but there were also Little and Alpine Swifts. Nearby was also a flashy Cape Longclaw showing off its orange throat.

At nearby Rondevlei Nature Reserve we were impressed by the number and variety of well-built bird hides. As it was still raining we flitted from hide to hide. Herons were the major feature in this well vegetated, freshwater reserve. Cattle, Little, Intermediate and Great White Egret were mixed in with Grey, Purple, Black-headed and Black-crowned Night Herons. Then as we marvelled at all this a male Little Bittern flew across the bay in front of us.

After a late lunch the rain eased enabling us to enjoy a local walk.

Thursday 14th Sept. HOUT BAY

En route to Hermanus we stopped at Strandfontein Beach where we found Sanderling and White-fronted Plover.

As we approached the Hottentots-Holland Mountains we saw the capping of snow that had fallen in the night. A return to winter! Much to our surprise we noted a pair of Black Duck on a small swollen river.

The wind dropped and the rain stopped as we reached Rooi Els. Here, amongst the scree at the foot of the mountain we found a stunning male Cape Rockjumper "jumping" from rock to rock. Cape Siskins, Cape Rockthrushes, Cape Sugarbirds and glittering Orange-breasted Sunbirds completed the scene.

Light rain cut short our visit to Stony Point where we watched cormorants, including Bank Cormorants and yet more Jackass Penguins.

The final visit of the morning was to the Howard Porter Botanical Gardens, an area of formal gardens and the wild and wonderful fynbos. The two most spectacular bird species here were Swee Waxbills and Cape Batis.

Our accommodation in Hermanus was an apartment in a block overlooking the sea. We soon discovered though that you couldn't quite see whales without getting out of bed!

The whole afternoon was spent on the shore watching the Southern Right Whales. The strong on-shore wind brought them so close to the rocky shore that they looked in danger. These great leviathans were on full control however.

We estimated that we saw at least twenty whales including a female with a calf and a number of mating pairs. The most exciting moments come when these huge, fifty tonne, fifteen metre long giants breached, leaping clear of the water. Hermanus must be one of the best whale watching sites in the world.

Friday 15th Sept. HERMANUS

The drive to De Hoop Nature Reserve took us through vineyards and arable lands. Here we were surprised to see two bird species, a fine Stanley Bustard and an introduced feral Common Peafowl!

The calcareous fynbos and the deep vlei at De Hoop are guarded from the sea by huge white sand dunes.

Our drive took us through the fynbos enabling us to discover Southern Tchagra and Layard's Titbabbler.

The Vlie though was the main attraction as it gave us an opportunity to watch a wide range of wetland species including geese, ducks, grebes, waders, pelicans, terns and gulls.

The mammals were also intriguing, Cape Zebra, Bontebok and Reebok being especially interesting.

Saturday 16th Sept. HERMANUS

As we prepared to leave the apartment a female Southern Right Whale and her calf floated quietly two hundred metres out to sea; it was almost as though they'd come to say 'Good-bye'.

Our first stop was the Huguenot Museum at the ancient French colony of Franschoek. The museum and gardens were fascinating, giving us a glimpse of the life of the past. Even a female Crowned Plover enjoyed the gardens; she was sitting on a nest amongst the pansies of a flowerbed!

Much of the afternoon was spend in the village museum at Stellenbosch. This consisted of four preserved houses ranging from the Schreuderhuis, a farmhouse of 1709, to the home of Olof Marthinus Bergh of 1850. This was an experience not to be missed!

The local fish restaurant was a great venue for our final evening meal.

Sunday 17th Sept. STELLENBOSCH

The view from our mountain retreat at the Delaire Wine Estate was breathtaking as we set out for Cape Town. The birdwatching was far from over though.

The Paarl Bird Sanctuary abounded with bird life. It was almost possible to forget that we were at yet another sewage farm!

We were almost at what might be described as a 'revision' site, nearly all the freshwater species we'd seen on the trip were here again. Eventually though we discovered a Grey-headed Gull, four White-faced Duck, a Wood Sandpiper and a Common Sandpiper, all 'new' species for the trip. As we left a fluttering flock of Marsh Terns performed an aerial ballet over the ponds.

Nearer Cape Town we visited the Helderberg Nature Reserve where the highlights were a fine Forest Buzzard, an Olive Woodpecker and a Spotted Eagle Owl.

The trip finished with a bang!

The overnight flight to Heathrow was comfortable and punctual.

Neil Arnold

September 2000



A - Augrabies

C - Cape

K - Kalahari

KA - Kamieskroon

O - Orange River

W - West Coast

WI - Witsand

Common Ostrich Struthio camelus Common in nature reserves. Very common in (K).

Jackass Penguin Spheniscus demersus Twenty three at Lamberts bay and hundreds at Simon's Town and Stony Point (C)

Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus A single record at Velddrif; (W) three at Rondevlei and at least twenty at De Hoop (C)

Black-necked Grebe Podiceps nigricollis One hundred and eight at Strandfontein and small numbers at De Hoop and Paarl (C)

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis Mainly at Groblershoop (O) and at various sites (C)

Southern Giant Petrel Macronectes giganteus An immature bird at Lamberts Bay and four, presumed this species (W).

Great White Pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus A couple of pairs (W) and bigger flocks up to twenty-seven (C)

Cape Gannet Morus capensis Thousands at Lamberts Bay (W). Common (C)

Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax lucidus Widespread (W) and (C)

Cape Cormorant Phalacrocorax capensis Widespread and numerous (W) and (C)

Bank Cormorant Phalacrocorax neglectus Never common (W) and (C). Peak count Stony Point.

Reed Cormorant Phalacrocorax africanus At freshwater sites from the Orange River south.

Crowned Cormorant Phalacrocorax coronatus Scarce. One at Lamberts Bay and three at Stony Point (C).

African Darter Anhinga rufa At freshwater sites from the Orange River south.

Grey Heron Ardea cinerea At all freshwater sites.

Black-headed Heron Ardea melanocephala In agricultural areas and at nesting sites on ponds and lakes.

Goliath Heron Ardea goliath One on the Orange River at Groblenshoop was unexpected.

Purple Heron Ardea purpurea One at Rondevlei and two at De Hoop

Great Egret Casmerodius albus Two birds at Rondevlei appeared be nesting (C)

Little Egret Egretta garzetta Widespread in small numbers (W) and (C).

Intermediate Egret Mesophoyx intermedia Only at Rondevlei (6) and De Hoop (1) (C).

Cattle Egret Bubulcus ibis At all freshwater sites. Flocks of up to two hundred with domestic animals.

Black-crowned Night Heron Nycticorax nycticorax Two at Rondevlei and at least a dozen at Paarl (C).

Green-backed Heron Butoroides virescens One at Augrabies Falls could well have been a migrant

Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus One at Rondevlei (C).

Hamerkop Scopus umbretta Only two records: one at the Orange River and one at Augrabies.

Black Stork Ciconia nigra One soaring over Augrabies.

Sacred Ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus A single bird at Augrabies was unexpected. Common from Lamberts Bay south.

Glossy Ibis Plegadis falcinellus Eighteen at Velddrif (W), ten in Cape Town and one at Paarl.

Hadada Ibis Bostrychia hagedash Six at Augrabies and then small flocks (C)

African Spoonbill Platalea alba One in flight over Kamieskroon and then Velddrif (6), Rondevlei (4) and De Hoop (26).

Greater Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber Two hundred Velddrif (W), twenty at (W) and two hundred at Strandfontein (C)

Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor Some fifty at Velddrif.

White-faced (Whistling) Duck Dendrocygna viduata Four at Paarl (C)

White-backed Duck Thalassornis leuconotus Two, Orange River.

Egyptian Goose Alopochen aegyptiacus At all freshwater sites. Large flocks at Rondevlei and De Hoop.

South African Shelduck Tadorna cana Two plus a juv, Orange River and five at Velddrif (W).

Yellow-billed Duck Anas undulata On large freshwater areas.

African Black Duck Anas sparsa A pair en route Rooi Els and another pair at Paarl. (C)

Cape Teal Anas capensis Flocks at Velddrif (80) and Strandfontein (80). Four at Paarl.

Red-billed Teal Anas erythrorhyncha Small flocks on wetlands (C)

Cape Shoveler Anas smithii The most widespread duck, mainly (C).

Southern Pochard Netta erythrophthalma Seventy at Strandfontein and smaller flocks at other waters (C).

Spur-winged Goose Plectropterus gambensis Scattered groups from (KA) south.

Maccoa Duck Oxyura maccoa Eight at Strandfontein and a fine male at Paarl (C)

Secretary Bird Sagittarius serpentarius Common (K). Peak count 14.

African White-backed Vulture Gyps africanus Only (K). Peak count 30.

Yellow-billed Kite Milvus parasitus Scattered records (W) and (C).

Black-shouldered Kite Elanus caeruleus Astonishing numbers (K). Peak count 146. Scattered records (W) and (C).

Verreaux's Eagle Aquila verreauxii Three sightings at Augrabies. A pair at a nest with young. A female at a nest with young. A fine adult in flight.

Tawny Eagle Aquila rapax Thirty eight sightings (K)

Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus Seven records in the Karoo, including a pair mating (KA).

Martial Eagle Polemaetus bellicosus Three (K).

Black-breasted Snake-Eagle Circaetus pectoralis One (K).

Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus Forty-five records (K).

African Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vocifer Scattered records throughout.

Forest Buzzard Buteo trizonatus One Helderberg.

Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus Scattered throughout the Karoo and Fynbos.

Gabar Goshawk Micronisus gabar Ten records (K)

Pale Chanting Goshawk Melierax canorus Common (K). Four records (A) and (KA).

African Marsh-Harrier Circus ranivorus A female (W).

Black Harrier Circus maurus Three adults (K) and (W).

Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus One (A), one Geogap.

Lanner Falcon Falco biarmicus Three (K), one near Upington and two south of (A).

Red-necked Falcon Falco chicquera A pair and another adult at a nest (K).

Rock Kestrel Falco tinnunculus Noted throughout.

Greater Kestrel Falco rupicoloides Fine views (K), Geogap and two (KA).

Pygmy Falcon Polihierax semitorquatus Twenty sightings (K).

Grey-winged Francolin Francolinus africanus Two Skilplad (KA) and two (W).

Cape Spurfowl Francolinus capensis Three (A) and then noted regularly (W) and (C).

Helmeted Guineafowl Numida meleagris In camps (K) and common (W) and (C).

Common Peahen Pavo cristatus A feral hen near De Hoop (C)

Blue Crane Anthropoides paradiseus Very close views. Thirty seven (W). 181 en route De Hoop. A pair en route Franschhoek.

Black Crake Amaurornis flavirostris One (A).

Purple Swamphen Porphyrio porphyrio Four Standfontein (C).

Common Moorhen Gallinula chloropus Common Rondevlei and Paarl (C).

Red-knobbed Coot Fulica cristata Local (O) (W) (C).

Kori Bustard Ardeotis kori Forty sightings (K) and two en route (A).

Stanley's Bustard Neotis denhami One en route Geogap. Two near (KA) and one in the stony Karoo near Vanrhynsdorp. An exceptional series of records.

Ludwig's Bustard Neotis ludwigii Three in flight en route Geogap. Two near (KA) and one in the stony Karoo near Venvhynsdorp. An exceptional series of records.

Karoo Korhaan Eupodotis vigorsii Two near (KA).

Red-crested Korhaan Eupodotis ruficrista One (K).

Southern Black Korhaan Eupodotis afra Tree records (W).

Northern Black Korhaan Eupodotis afraoides Six (K), three males in display, Skilplad (KA).

African Black Oystercatcher Haematopus moquini On rocky shores (C). Peak twenty Olifantsbos Bay.

White-fronted Plover Charadrius marginatus Eight records on sandy beaches. (W) and (C).

Kittlitz's Plover Charadrius pecuarius Ten sightings (W) and (C).

Three-banded Plover Charadrius tricollaris Near freshwater throughout.

Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola Widespread (W).

Crowned Lapwing Vanellus coronatus Common in dry areas.

Blacksmith Plover Anitibyx armatus Common near freshwater and on beaches.

Blacksmith Lapwing Vanellus armatus Common near freshwater and on beaches.

Ruddy Turnstone Arenaria interpres Six (W).

Common Sandpiper Tringa hypoleucos One Paarl (C).

Wood Sandpiper Tringa glareola One Paarl (C).

Marsh Sandpiper Tringa stagnatilis Seventy records (W).

Common Greenshank Tringa nebularia On freshwater and in tidal reaches.

Red Knot Calidris canutus A flock of forty-two (W).

Curlew Sandpiper Calidris ferruginea Forty (W).

Little Stint Calidris minuta Scattered groups (W).

Sanderling Calidris alba One Strandfontein (C).

Ruff Philomachus pugnax Six (W).

Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica A flock of thirty (W).

Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata One (W).

Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus Ten (W).

Pied Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta Six (W), ten Strandfontein and seven Paarl (C).

Black-winged Stilt Himantopus himantopus Widespread on fresh waters (W) and (C).

Spotted Thick-Knee Burhinus capensis Several (K).

Kelp Gull Larus dominicanus Common (W) and (C).

Grey-headed Gull Larus cirrocephalus One Paarl (C).

Hartlaub's Gull Larus hartlaubii Common from Lamberts Bay around the coast to De Hoop.

Caspian Tern Sterna caspia One Olifantsbos Bay and one De Hoop (C).

Swift Tern Sterna bergii Large flocks (W) and (C).

Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis Widespread (C).

Common Tern Sterna hirundo Flocks (W) and (C).

Whiskered Tern Chlidonias hybridus Two De Hoop, four Paarl (C).

White-winged Tern Chlidonias leucopterus One (W), one Strandfontein and twenty Paarl (C).

Namaqua Sandgrouse Pterocles namaqua Twelve records (W).

Feral Pigeon Columba livia Common (C).

Speckled Pigeon Columba guinea Common throughout, except (W).

Red-eyed Dove Streptopelia semitorquata One Upington. Common (C).

Laughing Dove Streptopelia senegalensis Common throughout although only in the lodges (W).

Namaqua Dove Oena capensis Common (K) and (A).

Barn Owl Tyto alba Six sightings (K).

White-faced Scops-Owl Otus leucotis One Nossob (K).

Pearl-spotted Owlet Glaucidium perlatum Three records (K).

Spotted Eagle-Owl Bubo africanus Three sightings (K). One Helderberg (C).

Verreaux's Eagle-Owl Bubo lacteus Two noted (K)

African Black Swift Apus barbatus Common (C).

Bradfield's Swift Apus bradfieldi One with Alpine Swifts (A).

Little Swift Apus affinis Common and widespread.

Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba Huge numbers (A). Scattered records (C).

African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus Two (K).

Speckled Mousebird Colius striatus Flocks (C).

White-backed Mousebird Colius colius Widespread south to (W).

Pied Kingfisher Ceryle rudis Noted (0) and (W).

Giant Kingfisher Megaceryle maxima One Lamberts Bay (W).

Malachite Kingfisher Alcedo cristata One (A) and one Paarl (C).

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater Merops hirundineus Forty-two sightings south to (A).

Lilac-breasted Roller Coracias caudata Seventeen records south to (A).

African Hoopoe Upupa africana Widespread south to (W). Two (C).

Common Scimitarbill Rhinopomastus cyanomelas At Witsand and (K).

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill Tockus leucomelas Noted regularly (O), (WI), (K).

Pied Barbet Tricholaema leucomelas Widespread south to (KA).

Cardinal Woodpecker Dendropicos fuscescens One (WI).

Olive Woodpecker Mesopicos griseocephalus One Helderberg (C).

Clapper Lark Mirafra apiata Wonderful views of the display, Skilplad (KA).

Fawn-coloured Lark Mirafra africanoides Only (K).

Sabota Lark Mirafra sabota Common south to (A).

Cape Long-billed Lark Certhilauda curvirostris Widespread (A), (KA), (W).

Karoo Lark Mirafra albescens One Geogap.

Spike-heeled Lark Chersomanes albofasciata Four (W) and eight (KA).

Red-capped Lark Calandrella cinerea Common (A), (KA), (W) and (C). The display which includes a steep dive to earth led to two alternative names being suggested: "Flat-beaked Lark" or "Kamakazi Lark"!

Large-billed Lark Galerida magnirostris Common (KA) and De Hoop (C).

Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark Eremopterix verticalis Common at roadsides south to (KA).

White-throated Swallow Hirundo albigularis Very widespread.

Greater Striped Swallow Hirundo cucullata Only (C).

South African Cliff Swallow Hirundo spilodera (O)

Rock Martin Hirundo fuligula Very common in association with crags and road bridges.

Brown-throated Martin Riparia paludicola Scattered records usually near water.

Banded Martin Riparia cincta Only (W).

Black Saw-wing Psalidoprocne holomelas Two Kirstenbosch and two Helderberg (C).

Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis Noted daily (WI) and (K).

Cape Crow Corvus capensis Widespread.

Pied Crow Corvus albus Common from Augrabies south.

White-necked Raven Corvus albicollis In rocky areas (W) and (C).

Ashy Tit Parus cinerascens Fine views (WI).

Cape Penduline Tit Anthoscopus minutus Two Skilplad (KA).

Cape Bulbul Pycnonotus capensis Common (W) and(C).

African Red-eyed Bulbul Pycnonotus nigricans Common south to Augrabies.

Sombre Greenbul Andropadus importunus Two Kirstenbosch and one De Hoop (C).

Olive Thrush Turdus olivaceus Widespread.

Groundscraper Thrush Psophocichla litsitsirupa Two (K).

Cape Rock-Thrush Monticola rupestris Four in the Rooi Els area (C).

Short-toed Rock-Thrush Monticola brevipes An immature male at (WI) was unexpected.

Mountain Wheatear Oenanthe monticola Noted near Upington and (A) and (KA).

Capped Wheatear Oenanthe pileata Widespread (KA), (W) and at De Hoop (C).

Familiar Chat Cercomela familiaris Common south to (KA). One record (C).

Karoo Chat Cercomela schlegelii Only at (KA) and (W).

Southern Anteating Chat Myrmecocichla formicivora South to Langebaan (W).

Common Stonechat Saxicola torquata From (KA) south.

Cape Robinchat Cossypha caffra Throughout except (K).

Cape Rockjumper Chaetops frenatus A male Roos Els (C).

Karoo Scrubrobin Cercotrichas coryphaeus From (KA) south.

Kalahari Scrubrobin Cercotrichas paena Only from Augrabies northward.

African Marsh Warbler Acrocephalus baeticatus Probably migrants - two (A)

Lesser Swamp-Warbler Acrocephalus gracilirostris In freshwater area with reeds.

Bar-throated Apalis Apalis thoracica One (W) and one De Hoop (C).

Long-billed Crombec Sylvietta rufescens Two at (A).

Yellow-bellied Eremomela Eremomela icteropygialis Three records (K).

Karoo Eremomela Eremomela gregalis Two Geogap.

Tit babbler Parisoma subcaeruleum Two at Skilplad (KA) and one (W).

Layard's Titbabbler Parisoma layardi Single birds Skilplad, Killtan's Pass (KA) and De Hoop (C).

Grassbird Sphenoeacus afer Good views (C).

Desert Cisticola Cisticola aridulus Only (K).

Grey-backed Cisticola Cisticola subruficapillus From (KA) south.

Le Vaillant's Cisticola Cisticola tinniens In ready freshwaters.

Black-chested Prinia Prinia flavicans From (A) north.

Karoo Prinia Prinia maculosa From (KA) south.

African Dusky Flycatcher Muscicapa adusta Only (C).

Marico Flycatcher Bradornis mariquensis Widespread (WI) and (K).

Chat Flycatcher Bradornis infuscatus A single record (K).

Fiscal Flycatcher Sigelus silens Wooded areas (WI), (W) and (C).

Cape Batis Batis capensis A pair Howard Porter Botanical Garden (C).

Pririt Batis Batis pririt Pairs at (WI), (O) and (A).

Cape Wagtail Motacilla capensis Widespread. Absent (K).

Long-billed Pipit Anthus similis One (KA).

Cape Longclaw Macronyx capensis Two Strandfontein (C).

Common Fiscal Lanius collaris Noted almost daily.

Southern Boubou Laniarius ferrugineus Displaying Olifantsbos Bay and De Hoop (C).

Crimson-breasted Shrike Laniarius atrococcineus Stunning views south to (WI).

Brubru Nilaus afer Only in (K).

Southern Tchagra Tchagra tchagra A male singing De Hoop (C).

Bokmakierie Telophorus zeylonus Widespread.

European Starling Sturnus vulgaris Common (O), (W) and (C).

African Pied Starling Spreo bicolor Scattered records (W) and (C).

Wattled Starling Creatophora cinerea Common (O) and (K).

Cape Glossy-Starling Lamprotornis nitens Common south to (KA).

Red-winged Starling Onychognathus morio Confined to (C).

Pale-winged Starling Onychognathus nabouroup Only (A).

Cape Sugarbird Promerops cafer Confined to (C).

Malachite Sunbird Nectarinia famosa From (KA) south.

Orange-breasted Sunbird Nectarinia violacea Great views (C).

Southern Double-collared Sunbird Nectarinia chalybea Widespread from (KA) south.

Dusky Sunbird Nectarinia fusca South to (A).

Cape White-eye Zosterops pallidus Very widespread. Absent (K).

White-browed Sparrow-Weaver Plocepasser mahali Common south to (WI).

Sociable Weaver Philetairus socius Common south to (WI). Local near Pofadder.

House Sparrow Passer domesticus Very widespread.

Cape Sparrow Passer melanurus Widespread. Less common (C) ironically1

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow Passer diffusus Common south to (KA).

Red-billed Quelea Quelea quelea Flocks (O) and Nossob (K) 100+.

Southern Red Bishop Euplectes orix In reed beds (W) and (C).

Yellow Bishop Euplectes capensis From (KA) south.

Green-winged Pytilia Pytilia melba Only at (WI).

Red-billed Firefinch Lagonosticta senegala Only at (A).

Violet-eared Waxbill Uraeginthus granatinus Three at (WI) included a startling male.

Black-cheeked Waxbill Estrilda erythronotus Six with Common Waxbill (WI).

Common Waxbill Estrilda astrild Flocks (WI), (A) and (C).

Swee Waxbill Estrilda melanotis A pair Howard Porter Botanical Gardens (C).

Red-headed Finch Amadina erythrocephala Only (WI) and (K). At least one hundred Nossob (K).

Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs A pair (C) where it is a very local introduced species.

Black-throated Canary Serinus atrogularis Only (WI) and (K).

Cape Canary Serinus canicollis Widespread (C).

Cape Siskin Pseudochloroptila totta Four Rooi Els (C).

Black-headed Canary Serinus alario Fine views of this wanderer (KA).

Yellow Canary Serinus flaviventris Very widespread.

White-throated Canary Serinus albogularis Flocks (A) and (KA).

Cape Bunting Emberiza capensis Common in rocky areas from (A) south.


Brants Whistling Rat Parotomys sp. Three records (K).

Striped Mouse Rhabdomys pumilio Common (K). Also at (A).

Dassie Rat Petromus typicus Three (KA).

South African Ground Squirrel Geosciurus inauris From (A) north.

Grey Squirrel Sciurus carolinensis Feral (C).

Springhare Pedetes capensis Seven near Nossob (K).

Cape Hare Lepus capensis (C).

Scrub Hare Lepus saxatilis (K) and (KA)

Dassie Procavia capensis In rocky areas throughout.

Mountain Zebra Equus zebra Three (C) and one De Hoop.

Blue Wildebeest Connochaetes taurinus Common (K) and eight (W)

Red Hartebeest Alcelaphus buselaphus Up to 13 (K)

Bontebok Damaliscus dorcas (W) and (C). Fifty at De Hoop

Common Duiker Sylvicapra grimmia (WI) and (W).

Springbok Antidorcas marsupialis Throughout.

Klipspringer Oreotragus oreotragus Seventeen (A)

Steenbok Raphicerus campestris Small groups (K), (A) and (W).

Grey Rhebok Pelea capreolus An adult and one youngster, De Hoop (C).

Gemsbok Oryx gazella Common (K). Peak count 51.

Eland Taurotragus oryx Five (A), fifteen (W) and smaller groups (C).

Cheetah Acinonyx jubatus One (K).

Lion Acinonyx jubatus A fine male Kalahari Lion (K).

African Wild Cat Felis sylvestris Fine (K).

Bat-eared Fox Otocyon megalotis Ten (K)

Cape Fox Vulpes chama Four (K)

Black-eared Jackal Canis mesomelas Common (K)

Suricate Suricata suricata Eight (K). Two groups of seven and two (KA).

Yellow Mongoose Cynictis penccillata Single records (K) and up to three (KA)

Slender Mongoose Herpestes sanguinea Single records (K) and (A).

Small Grey Mongoose Herpestes pulverulenta At (A) and (C).

Chacma Baboon Papio ursinus Rocky area (A), (W) and (C).

Vervet Monkey Cercopithecus pygerythrus Small groups (WI) and (A).

Cape Fur Seal Arctocephalus pusillus Up to sixty (W).

Southern Right Whale Eubalaena australis 30 - 40 (C).


Angulate Tortoise (W) and (C).

Cape Terrapin (C).

Mole Snake (K).

Cape Cobra (K)

Cape Girdled Lizard (C)

Peer's Girdled Lizard (KA)

Southern Rock Agama (KA)

Spiny Agama (KA)

Sand Agama (K)

© The Travelling Naturalist 2000