South Africa . 9 - 23 September 2009 Alex Bevan, Phil Edmonds, Russ Eynon & Steve Hinton

A trip to South Africa had been on the radar for quite a while. Whilst we originally planned to visit the Western Cape the lure of Big Mammals proved too strong. We eventually ended up spending 9 nights in the Cape Town area before flying to Johannesburg for a further 4 nights in Kruger National Park.

Priority number one was to get out on a Pelagic from Simonstown and we arranged out trip early on in the stay to give us another shot if the wind was too strong. Fortunately we had great weather during the early days of the trip and our Pelagic ran to schedule. We were lucky enough to find eight Trawlers and the sheer number of Seabirds will live in the memory for many years!

We were not so lucky with our planned Shark diving trip out of Gansbaai as following our pelagic we encountered several days of strong winds and heavy rain. This did however enable us to squeeze in some extra birding in the De Hoop area.

We resisted the temptation to hire a guide during our trip and armed with a copy of SASOL South African Birdfinder and a host of trip reports we managed to see a good selection of endemics. With only ten days around the Cape and plenty of time taking photos and Whale watching we naturally missed a few things, but overall we crammed in a good selection of Western Cape endemics.

                                              Fiscal Shrike

Black Oystercatcher
In Kruger our main priority were mammals although we still managed to see good numbers of birds as we drove around the National Park.

Crowned Cormorant

Checking trip reports prior to our visit, it appeared that Noordhoek was a popular  base for a number of Bird tour companies and for our time in the Cape Town area we decided to base ourselves here. We stayed in a self catering annex at which we thoroughly recommend.
During the Kruger leg of our trip we stayed at near Komatipoort.
Our rooms overlooked the Crocodile River and offered some excellent opportunities for mammal watching along with quick and easy access to Kruger National Park via the southern Crocodile Gate entrance.
Other accommodation used was Ceres Inn
De Hoop NR-  within a few miles of park entrance,so ideally placed.
Gansbaai  booked as part of a Shark dive package but our trip was cancelled due to strong winds.

No Visas required for UK nationals to enter South Africa and we were through passport control in minutes.In the main we cooked for ourselves and the supermarkets in Noordhoek and Komatipoort Catered for our needs. On the couple of occasions we chose to eat out we had little problem in finding a reasonably priced meal.
No need for Antimalarial around Cape Town although we took Malarone whilst in Kruger. However with little recent rain there were no Mosquito's to be seen anyway. Cash points were widely available and whilst  electric fences and armed response signs were common in many areas we encountered no problems throughout the trip in terms of personal security.

Daily Itinerary
Thursday 10th September

After an uneventful overnight flight from Heathrow we arrived in Cape Town at 9.30 local time. First bird of the trip was a Pied Crow from the terminal buildings and with no waiver forms to fill in and a quick stamp of the passport, we had probably our fastest ever passage through customs.

First stop was our accommodation for the next week at The Enchanted Gardens in Noordhoek. After getting rid of the luggage we headed off to Kommetjie for our first proper birding of the trip. Although the tide was out , we nevertheless had some great views of Swift Tern and Spotted Thick-knee but failed to find any Bank Cormorants amongst the Crowned and Cape Cormorants, Karoo Prinia helped to get the endemic list going and with the weather quite pleasant we headed off down the coast along Lighthouse Road. We managed to find both White Fronted and Kittlitz,s Plover along some small sandy beaches, whilst in nearby scrub, Grey-backed Cisticola, Bokmakierie and Cape Robin Chat were all on show,. With a weather front moving in off the sea we caught site of a few distant seabirds but they would have to wait until our pelagic on Saturday.

Spotted thick-knee

                                                   Karoo Prinia
                                                           Crowned Cormorant
                                                    White- breasted Cormorant

Friday 11th September

With the weather holding up, things were looking up for our pelagic tomorrow.
Meanwhile, today we visited Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens entering via the Rycroft Gate off Klassens Road. We spent several hours working the upper reaches of the park before eventually stopping for lunch down at the restaurant area. Highlight was great views of several Cape Sugarbirds. The supporting cast also included Cape and forest Canaries, African Harrier Hawk and Southern Boubou. We struggled however to find the roost tree for Spotted Eagle Owl, only to eventually find out that workmen had actually cut it down that morning! The Owl was now roosting in grass close to the path and we were able to obtain brief views of it.
Leaving Kirstenbosch mid afternoon we headed down to Strandfontaine Sewage Works. As to be expected waterbirds were plentiful although waders were low in number.Several hours traversing the numerous tracks running along side the various pools produced hundreds of Flamingos, African  Marsh Harrier, Lesser Swamp Warbler and Southern Masked Weaver. It also gave our duck list a real boost with Southern Pochard, Maccoa Duck, White Backed Duck, Hottentot Teal, Cape Teal and Cape Shoveler, along with hundreds of Black necked Grebes.

                                              Serrated Hinged Terrapin

Cape Sugar Bird

                                                        Forest Canary
                                                   Southern Pochard
                                             Cape Shoveler                                 
                                            Strandfontaine Sewage Works

Saturday 12th September

Up at the crack of dawn today for the most eagerly awaited day of the trip, our pelagic out of Simonstown.  With poor weather forecast after today we were relieved to be able to get out , and it started well with Humpback, Southern Right and Bryde`s Whales before we had even left False Bay. As we passed the Cape Light House a group of Common Dolphins, presumably Long-beaked also swam alongside our boat.
  Heading south in search of Trawlers we were soon joined by a few White-chinned Petrels. It was not too long before we had our first Shy Albatross beside the boat. Fortunately, our luck was in and some 20+ miles south we located eight Trawlers. The next couple of hours were nothing short of phenomenal, with birds absolutely everywhere around every Trawler. Pintado Petrels numbered in excess of 10,000 birds, whilst the expected Shy and Black Browed Albatross were joined by a single Northern Royal and 2 Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatrosses. We also had to be quick to catch an Atlantic Fulmar Shearing past the boat. Other birds of note included more familiar friends such as Great and Sooty Shearwaters and hundreds of Wilsons Petrels.
  Heading back too Simonstown we stopped briefly off the Cape Lighthouse to watch several more Humpback Whales. Back on dry land (phew!) we made the short distance down the coast to Boulders for some sedate photograph opportunity with African Penguin. Final stop of the day was a return to Simonstown and the Salty Sea Dog  fish & chip shop - highly recommended!
                                                   Long beaked Common Dolphin
Cape Gannet

                                                 Black browed Albatross
White-chinned Petrel and Pintado Petrel
                                            Southern Giant Petrel

                                                    Humpback Whale
                                                Shy Albatross
                                               White chinned Petrel

African Penguin

Sunday 13th September

In contrast to yesterday, the weather this morning was awful with strong winds and heavy rain. We decided to head up the West Coast in the hope that the weather would clear but by the time we got to Yzerfontein the rain was still persistent and the hope of seeing Heavisides Dolphin were dashed. A Black Harrier seen from the car was frustratingly brief and we decided to bird the Darling Wildflower route from the car. We soon encountered the first 2 Blue Cranes of the trip, whilst nearby fields held Yellow and Northern Red Bishops, Cloud Cisticola and African Pipit. Persisting with a mystery calling bird close to the car paid off when a Southern Black Korhaan popped up. whilst we could not find any Cape Clapper Larks, we did catch up with Red-capped and large-Billed Larks, Cape Longclaw and Mountain Wheatear. We also came across a solitary Bontebok. Finally late in the afternoon we headed off on the long drive to Ceres where we booked into the Ceres Inn, in preparation for some proper Karoo birding tomorrow.

Blue Crane

Monday14th September

It took us about an hour to get from Ceres to our first stop of the day at Karooport. Initial birds in the half light were Chestnut-vented Tit -Babbler and Karoo Scrub Robin, along with an African Reed Warbler. Our main target bird, Namaqua Warbler soon gave itself up a little further up the road whilst after yesterdays brief sighting, We finally got prolonged views of a Black Harrier. A bird of prey on a telegraph pole turned out to be the first of several Pale Chanting Goshawks and in the nearby scrub we soon got to grips with Karoo Larks. Proceeding up the road towards Eierkop we stopped at regular intervals for Cape Sheduck, Pale-winged Starling,Yellow, White-throated & Black throated Canaries and also Karoo Chat. However, a prolonged period in the scrub around the hill itself could not produce any Karoo Eremomelas.
  Reaching the picnic area at Skitterykloof no amount of playback could produce any Cinnamon-breasted Warblers although we did see Fairy flycatcher. On the way back we bumped into some fellow Brits and their guide and a quick stop to chat to them gave us Southern Ant-eater Chat and great views of Large-billed Lark. Armed with a new site for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler some way back down the road we managed to squeeze in a final half hour before dark. Failing again we had to be content with Laynard,s Tit-Babbler before setting off on the 3 hour drive back to Noordhoek.

                                                   Large-billed Lark
                                                  The Karoo

Tuesday 15th September

After failing to see any Orange-breasted Sunbirds at Kistenbosch (not  there yet apparently) we started the day at Silvermine Nature Reserve. It did not take much time to find our target and other birds included Cape Sugarbird and some great views of Cape Grassbird. Next stop was the Constantia Greenbelts to try for Knysnia Warbler at Del Hel. However, the windy conditions did not help and we had no joy here or at Hohenhort Avenue. We spent the afternoon at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve where the birding continued to be slow in strong winds. Orange-breasted & Malachite Sunbirds, Cape Sugarbird and Cape Bunting all showed well along with Red Winged Starling which were very tame around the restaurant areas otherwise the highlight was posing for the obligatory group photo at the Cape of Good Hope.. Finally with birds few and far between , we decided to head back to Simonstown for another visit to the Salty Sea Dog fish and chip shop.
                                                 Red Winged Starling
                                                  Malachite Sunbird
                                                  Orange breasted Sunbird
                                                Cape Grassbird
 Wednesday 16th September

Our plans for an early start and another try for Knysna Warbler were cut short by a torrential down poor.
   Cutting our losses we headed for Sir Lowry`s Pass and ended up spending an hour in Cape Towns rush hour traffic.
   Shortly after arriving we had great views of another endemic target, Victorin`s Warbler. However, our search for Cape Rock Jumper was cut short when mist and heavy rain rolled in.  With zero visibility we got absolutely drenched and had to dice with death trying to cross back over the N2 to get to our car. So it was plan B and we moved off to the coast and Rooi Els, where fortunately the weather was much brighter.
   We spent the afternoon trying to nail Cape Rock Jumper and 2 miles from our original parking spot and 4 hours later we finally succeeded just as we were about to give up.
   In the interim period we had managed to catch up with several more sought after endemics such as Ground Woodpecker and Cape Siskin. Fiscal Flycatcher was also a nice addition and having just about dried out. Our final birding stop of the day was at the African Penguin colony at Betty`s Bay. We also found time for a quick stop at Hermanus where several Southern Right Whales were loafing around in the surf just off shore. Upon arriving at the Backpackers Hostel in Gansbaii we were greeted with the news that tomorrow`s planned White Shark diving trip had been cancelled due to strong winds, so it was off to a nearby pub for a bite to eat and discuss alternative plans.

Southern Black Flycatcher
                                              Southern Right Whale
                                              Cape Siskin
                                              Ground Woodpecker
                                                 Cape Rockjumpers
                                                Rock Hyrax
                                                Victorin`s Warbler
                                               Sombre Greenbul
                                              Hadada Ibis

Thursday 17th September

With our shark dive cancelled, we headed down to Struisbaii Plaat to check for Terns. As at Hermanus there were 10+ Southern Right Whales close in shore but no sign of any Damara Terns, presumably a little too early for the breeding colony. Once again, strong winds and heavy showers hampered the birding.
   Heading on to De Mond plenty of roadside stops produced several Denim`s Bustards, lots of Red Capped Larks, Capped Wheatears, Crowned Plovers and Blue Cranes. At the actual reserve both Cape Weaver and Southern Boubou gave excellent photo opportunities in the car park. A walk out to the river mouth, somewhat paid off when a feeding Damara Tern swept into view. Other birds included Caspian Tern and Spotted Thick-knee.
   Leaving mid afternoon for De Hoop our progress was again slow as we stopped at regular intervals to view birds in the rolling farmland. A pair of Aghaus long-billed Larks on roadside posts were very welcome as were closer views of Denim`s Bustards and Large-billed Larks.
   By the time we arrived at our accommodation for the night, at Buchu Bush Camp, it was too late to enter the actual reserve, so we settled for a quick walk around the chalets obtaining further views of Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Sugarbirds.

                                            Struisbaai Plaat

                                       Buchu Bush Camp

                                             Cape Weaver
Jackal Buzzard with Cape Mole Rat
                                             Southern Boubou
                                                   Capped Wheatear
                                              Olive Thrush
                                              Cape Bulbul
                                                  Southern Right Whale

Friday 18th September

A kick around before breakfast turned up the hoped for Southern Tchagra. Moving on to the De Hoop reserve some birding on foot around the campsite area ended up with a rather tame Ostrich following us around for the best part of 2 hours. Plenty of White Pelicans drifted around whilst a scan along the shoreline produced some Cape Mountain Zebras. In the scrub, we encountered some White-throated Canaries and Bar-throated Apalis but could not tempt Knysna Woodpecker into view. A displaying Lark turned out to be an Agulhas Clapper Lark, another sought after endemic. Next stop after that was Potberg Mountain for the pretty much guaranteed Cape Vultures. The only other birds of note were African Hoopoe and a calling Lesser Honeyguide.
   Our tactic of stopping and scanning every couple of miles along the gravel road between Ouplas and Swellendam finally paid off when we spotted two distant Korhaans on top of a ridge. The black throat of the male confirmed we had secured another target, Karoo Korhaan.
   After reaching Swellendam. the next roadside stop enroute to Grootvadersbosch Nr was for a Giant Kingfisher. Grootvadersbosch itself was very quiet for the short time we were there. Not surprising given the time of day. The best we could muster was Cape Batis, African Olive Pigeon and our only new bird, Greater Double Collared Sunbird. From here it was a two hour plus drive back to Cape Town international Airport.
                                              Bar Throated Apalis
                                              Purple Heron
                                                 Cape Weaver
                                               Black Headed Heron
                                                Yellow Bishop

                                             Giant Kingfisher
                                               African Hoopoe
Saturday 19th September

Very much a travel day today with a 6.20 am flight from Cape Town to Johannesburg. After collecting our Nissan X-Trail we were soon on the long drive to Komatipoort and our base for the next 4 nights Bucklers Africa. Situated near the Mozambique border, we were well placed  for the next few days searching for big game in Kruger National Park.
   With our rooms over looking the Crocodile River, we quickly spotted several Elephants, although  we certainly hoped for better views once in the National Park. After heading back into Komatipoort for some supplies, a quick look around the garden before it got dark produced Bronze Mannakin, African Paradise Flycatcher and Natal Francolin.

                                             Marico Sunbird
                                             African Green Pigeon

Sunday 20th September

Our earliest start of the trip today to ensure we were at the Crocodile Bridge entrance in time for the 6am opening. After paying the 160 Rand per person entrance fee we headed into the park and took the first gravel road off to the right. With cloud cover all day bird activity lasted longer than expected and a steady stream of new birds followed. Highlights included Grey Go-away Bird, Crested Francolin, Double Banded Sandgrouse, Green- winged Pytilla, Red & Yellow billed Hornbills and our first proper Ostrich of the trip. We also had numerous Magpie Shrikes, a pattern that continued for the next couple of days.
  It was not too long before we had achieved excellent close views of Elephant, White Rhino and Giraffe. Not being able to get out of the car whilst in the park can be a bit of a pain, so when the opportunity came to stretch our legs at Nhlambanyati Viewing Area we were out in a flash. Although the area in front of the hide was dry we had superb views of a showy Crested Barbet. Other birds from the hide included Sulphur Breasted Bush-Shrike, Jameson`s Firefinch, Yellow-throated Canary, White-throated Robin-Chat, Brown Hooded Kingfisher, Black backed Puffback and Brown Headed Parrot.
  The steady stream of new birds was cut short when a fellow visitor informed us that he had just left a Leopard sat in a tree several kms down the road. A long line of stationary vehicles indicated the correct location and as we approached it was easy enough to spot this magnificent Cat draped across one of the lower branches. After 20 minutes of inactivity the Leopard eventually dropped out of the tree and made its way through the bush. In the melee that followed, we gambled in positioning our car ahead of the crowd and were rewarded with stunning views when the Leopard turned and walked directly toward our car. Fabulous stuff!
   On a high we headed to lower Sabie for lunch before heading over Sunset Dam, where Black Crake, Yellow billed Stork, African Jacana and Water Thick-Knee were all on view.
   The route up to Mlondozi Picnic Area gave great views of Zebra and Elephant, whilst birds included African Wattled Lapwing and Burchell`s Coucal.

Lower Sabie Rest Area

Black-faced Vervet Monkey

White-Throated Swallow


Crested Barbet
                                                   Brown-hooded Kingfisher

Monday 21st September

Much hotter day today 30+ centigrade. During our drive into the park this morning we stopped to watch a small group of Lions, well hidden in the scrub it was just about possible to make out 2 females. After a few minutes the group got up and moved off through the bush and were soon lost to view, although the alarm calls from a troop of Baboons indicated that they were not too far away. From here we moved to a roadside Lion kill. The large group of lurking Cape and Hooded Vultures and several Jackals indicated the correct spot. After stopping our car, it was just about possible to make out the two Lions guarding the long dead Giraffe. They seemed well settled until 2 Bull Elephants decided to investigate the scene, forcing them and eventually us to move out of the way. A stop a short way down the road for some close Hyenas was short lived as we received a tip off  that a few kms away there was a group of Wild Dogs resting at a dried up waterhole. Some fifteen minutes later we were enjoying great views of one of Kruger`s most sought after Mammals. However, thanks to a safari guide and his radio the place was soon crawling with safari jeeps and cars, so it was time to beat a hasty retreat to Lower Sabie for lunch, where we took a few hours out during the heat of the day.
  New birds during our final session of the day included African Grey Hornbill,Goliath Heron and several Kori Bustards. A stop on the way to photograph a sleeping Hyena at the side of the road produced the final excitement of the day when a group of 5 Southern Ground Hornbills appeared on the road, right in front of the car.

                                                  Sabota Lark
Wild Dog

                                            Spotted Hyena
                                             Double-banded Sandgrouse

 Tuesday 22nd September

Thankfully it was much cooler today and consequently there was much more bird activity. We managed to bump into a nice feeding flock of birds early on, although not being able to get out of the car was somewhat frustrating. New birds included Bennett`s & Cardinal Woodpeckers, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Grey-Tit Flycatcher and Southern White-crowned Shrike, other additions later in the day included Green Wood Hoopoe, Common Scimitarbill, Martial Eagle and Lappet-faced Vulture. However the best part of the afternoon  was spent near Lower Sabie, making the most of some photo opportunities with a pair of Cheetahs sat yards from the car, well once we could get into position given the scrum of vehicles!


                                              White throated Robin- Chat

                                             Chinspot Batis
Wednesday 23rd September

A final visit into the park this morning failed to produce any big cats although we did succeed in finding a few new trip birds. Grey Penduline Tit, Red-crested Bustard, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Green-capped Eremomola and Red faced Cisticola helped to boost our overall trip total.
  Leaving Kruger at midday, it was a long 6 hour journey back to Johannesburg, where we just about managed to follow the road signs to the airport against a low evening sun.
                                                             Water Thick-Knee
                                             Black backed Jackal


Systematic list

The list below follows the sequence, nomenclature and taxonomy of SASOL Birds of South Africa.

African Penguin    Visits to colonies at Boulder`s Beach and Betty`s Bay gave excellent Views.

Great Crested Grebe   2 Standfontaine sewage works  15 De Hoop

Black Necked Grebe  150+ Strandfontaine Sewage Works

Little Grebe  20 Strandfontaine

Northern Royal Albatross  Single bird during pelagic

shy Albatross Not as numerous as Black-browed but some great close range views also singles from land.

Black-browed Albatross  Fabulous views of hundreds of birds on pelagic.

Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross  2 on pelagic

Southern Giant Petrel  7 birds around trawlers, included at least 1 white adult

Northern Giant Petrel  At least 2 around trawlers

White-chinned Petrel  Hundreds seen on pelagic

Sooty Shearwater  Several hundred seen

Great Shearwater  3 birds seen on pelagic

Southern Fulmar  Just a single bird that whizzed past the boat

Pintado Petrel  The phenomenal sight of 10,000+ around trawlers, birds everywhere

Wilson`s Storm Petrel  Hundreds during pelagic

Cape Gannet  Very common seen also from land

Reed Cormorant  Regular sightings on inland waters

Crowned Cormorant  Easily seen at Kommetji beach

African Darter  Seen on 5 dates with 6 on 18th

Great-White Pelican  20+ during a trip to West Coast with 15 at De Hoop

Goliath Heron  " in Kruger

Purple Heron  Singles en route to De Hoop and in Kruger

Grey Heron  seen on 7 dates

Black-headed Heron  10 on the 11th

Little Egret  Small numbers seen

Cattle Egret  Common

Green-backed Heron  2 in Kruger

Yellow-billed Stork  Seen only in Kruger, max. 20 on 20th

Saddle-billed Stork  Singles in Kruger on 3 dates

African Openbill Stork  1 sighting in Kruger

Greater Flamingo  200+ Strandfontaine

African Spoonbill  Only seen in De Hoop with 3 on 18th

Hammerkop  Just 1 in Kruger

Hadada Ibis  Common throughout trip

Glossy Ibis  Single at Strandfontaine

African Sacred Ibis  Common around the Cape

Spur-winged Goose  Small numbers seen

South African-Shelduck  6 near Karooport

Egyptian Goose  Common

White-faced Whistling Duck  7 at Kruger

White-backed Duck  5 at Strandfontaine

Southern Pochard  at least 100 at Strandfontaine

Maccoa Duck  10 Strandfontaine

Yellow-billed Duck  seen on 6 dates

Cape Shoveler  max count 25 Strandfontaine

Cape Teal  20+ Strandfontaine

Red-billed Teal  2 on 10th 7 on 11th 1 on 13th

Hottentot Teal 1 at Strandfontaine

Lappet-faced Vulture  1 sat in tree close to the road in Kruger

White-backed Vulture  Single in Kruger

Hooded Vulture  4 birds seen around a Lion kill in Kruger

African Fish Eagle  Great views in Kruger Max 6on 20th

Bateleur  Small numbers in Kruger

Brown Snake Eagle  Singles in Kruger on 2 dates

Tawny Eagle  In Kruger 1 on 20th with 2 on 23rd

Martial Eagle  Great views of a bird flying over the car in Kruger

Verreaux`s Eagle  1 in the Karoo and 1 en route to Kruger

Booted Eagle  Single bird in the Karoo

Jackal Buzzard  Regular around the Cape

Wahlberg`s Eagle  Small numbers in Kruger

Steppe Buzzard  3 0n 11th 1 on 17th

African Harrier Hawk  First seen at Kirstenbosch thereafter seen on 3 further dates

African Marsh Harrier  Single at Strandfontaine

Black Harrier  Excellent views of this sought after bird seen Yzerfontaine, 2 Karooport, and De Hoop

Southern pale Chanting Goshawk  3 birds on telegraph poles in the Karoo

Yellow-billed Kite  Max count of 6 on 17th

Black shouldered Kite  seen on 6 dates

Gabar Goshawk   1 in Kruger

African Goshawk  1 in Strandfontaine

Lanner Falcon   Single hunting over farmland near De Hoop

Peregrine   1 at Cape of Good Hope

Rock kestrel  common around the Cape 

Swainson`s Francolin  seen in Kruger, max 4 on 22nd

Natal Francolin  small numbers in Kruger

Grey-winged Francolin  2 birds in De Hoop

Helmeted Guineafowl  Numerous throughout

Crested Guineafowl  2 in Kruger

Cape Francolin  regular around Cape

Ostrich  2 Birds in Kruger

Red-knobbed Coot  seen on 4 dates with 200+ at Strandfontaine

Common Moorhen  max 8 Strandfontaine

Black Crake  Excellent views in Kruger

African Jacana  Common in Kruger

Blue Crane  Particularly numerous in farmland near De Hoop

Secretary Bird  brief views in Kruger before we had to leave in search of Wild Dog

Denham`s Bustard  8 seen in farmland near De Hoop

Kori Bustard  3 in Kruger

Karoo Korhaan  2 distant birds between De Hoop and Swellandam

Southern Black Korhaan  2 along the Darling Wildflower route

African Black Oystercatcher   regular in the Western  Cape

Black winged Stilt  seen on 7 dates

Pied Avocet  seen on 3 dates

Three-banded Plover  seen near Karooport and Kruger with 4 on 20th

Kittlitz`s Plover  8 near lighthouse at Kommetjie, 1 at Yzerfontaine and 3 near Karooport

White-fronted Plover  20 in the Kommetjie area and 3 in Kruger

Crowned Lapwing  Common in farmland around De Hoop max 50 17th

African Wattled Lapwing  6 in Kruger 20th

Blacksmith Lapwing   Common

Common Sandpiper  A few birds in Kruger

Green Sandpiper   2 birds in Kruger

Wood Sandpiper  4 in Kruger

Common Greenshank  1 Karooport, 2 De Mond and 1 in Kruger

Marsh Sandpiper  Single in Kruger

Whimbrel  Singles at Kommetjie and De Mond

African Snipe 2 in wet field on the Darling Wildflower Route

Spotted Thick-Knee  Seen in Kruger with 10 on 19th

Subantarctic Skua  Great views on our pelagic, also 1 on Cape of Good Hope and 2 Betty`s Bay

Arctic Skua  2 at Kommetjie

Cape Gull  Common along coast

Caspian Tern  1 De Mond 10 following day at De Hoop

Grey Headed Gull  a few birds on our drive back to Johannesburg

Hartlaub`s  Gull Common around the Western Cape

Swift Tern  Fairly common around Cape Town Coastal area

Sandwich Tern  3 Kommetjie

Common Tern  1 on pelagic 10 at Yzerfontaine

Whiskered Tern  1 between Johannesburg and Kruger

Double-banded Sandgrouse  1 Kruger 20th and 2 on 22nd

Speckled Pigeon  Very common around Cape Town

African Olive Pigeon  A single bird at Kirstenbosch and 4 at Grootvadersbosch

Red-eyed Dove  Seen on 5 dates

Cape Turtle Dove  regular sightings

Laughing Dove  regular sightings

African Green Pigeon  Kruger max 6 on 20th

Emerald-spotted wood Dove  Common in Kruger

Namaqua Dove  7 Darling Wildflower Route 1 Karoo port

Brown-headed Parrot  Small numbers in Kruger

Grey go-away-bird  Common in Kruger

Burchell`s Coucal  seen daily in Kruger

Spotted Eagle owl  1 in Kirstenbosch and another flushed from roadside trees near De Hoop

Cape Eagle Owl  a calling bird in Noordhoek

Barn Owl  singles in Kruger  at Lower Sabie Rest Area

Alpine Swift  seen on 4 dares with a max of 20 De Hoop

African Black Swift  20 at Yzerfontaine, 5 near Karooport and several at De Hoop

Little Swift  common in Kruger

White-rumped Swift  seen on 8 dates though more numerous in Kruger

African Palm Swift  Common in Kruger

Red-faced Mousebird  5 birds in Kruger

Speckled Mousebird  seen on 8 dates

White-backed Mousebird  2 Darling Wildflower Route an 2 at Karooport

Giant Kingfisher  1 De Hoop  1 Kruger

Pied Kingfisher  Seen on 8 dates

Brown-hooded Kingfisher  Several birds in Kruger

White-fronted Bee-eater  single in Kruger

Lilac-breasted Roller  Common in Kruger

Purple Roller  3 birds in Kruger on 22nd  2 the following day

Southern Ground Hornbill  superb views on the way out at dusk in Kruger

African Grey Hornbill   a few in Kruger

Southern yellow-billed Hornbill  Common in Kruger

Red-billed Hornbill  common in Kruger

Green wood-hoopoe  3 in Kruger on 22nd and 7 on 23rd

Common Scimitarbill  Just 1 in Kruger

African Hoopoe  1 bird feeding on lawn at Potberg mountain

Greater Honeyguide  1 in Karooport

Lesser Honeyguide   1 at Potberg and 1 in Kruger

Black-collared Barbet areal corker with 3 in Kruger on 22nd and another there the following day

Crested Barbet  a very showy bird at Nhlambanyati viewing area in Kruger

Fork-tailed Drongo  small numbers in De Hoop. Common in Kruger

White-necked Raven  seen on 6 dates

Pied Crow  Common

Cape Crow  Fairly common around farmland in Dehoop and Swellandam

Southern Grey Tit  2 at Karooport

Southern Black tit  fairly common in Kruger

Arrow-markede Babbler  several groups in Kruger

Cape Bulbul  common in the Western Cape area

Dark-capped Bulbul  common in Kruger

Sombre Greenbul  first seen in Kommetjie, 5 birds in Kirstenbosch and 3 at Potberg

Cape Wagtail  common in the Cape Town area

Olive Thrush  small numbers in Cape Town area

Kurrichane Thrush a confiding bird in the grounds of our lodge in Kruger

Cape Rock-thrush  3 at Rooi Els

Cape Rock-jumper  after considerable effort we eventually had great views of a pair in Rooi Els

Familiar Chat  Regular sightings in the Western Cape

Karoo Chat  7 at Karooport

Mountain Wheatear  1 Darling Wildflower Route

Capped Wheatear  common along farmland fences along Darling and De Hoop areas

African (common) Stonechat  3 along the Darling Wildflower Route 3 Buchu Bush Camp

Southern ant-eating-Chat  1 at Karooport

Cape Robin-Chat  common paricularly Kirstenbosch

White-throated Robin-Chat  several in Kruger

White-browed-scrub Robin  a few sightings in Kruger

Karoo Scrub Robin  4 at Karooport

Burnt-necked Eremomela   2 birds in Kruger

Green-capped Eremomela  2 in Kruger

Yellow-bellied Eremomela  2 Karooport 3 in Kruger

Grey Penduline Tit  1 Kruger

Victorin`s Warbler  Excellent views of a singing bird at Sir Lowry`s Pass

Lesser- Swamp Warbler  5 at Strandfontaine sewage works

African Reed Warbler  1 at Karooport

Cape Grassbird  Seen on 4 dates with great views at Silvermine

Green-backed Cameroptera  1 at Kruger

Fairy Flycatcher  2 birds at Karooport

Layard`s Tit Babbler   2 at Karooport

Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler  2 at Karooport

Long-billed Crombec  fairly common in Kruger

Yellow-breasted Apalis  1 at Kruger

Bar-throated Apalis   up to 7 birds at De Hoop

Cloud Cisticola  Single bird on the Darling Wildflower Route

Grey-backed Cisticola  Seen on 4 dates, max 6 at Karooport

Croaking Cisticola  1 in Kruger

Rattling Cisticola  Regular in Kruger

Levaillant`s Cisticola  Excellent views at Strandfontaine

Red-faced Cisticola  1 at Kruger

Namaqua Warbler  A single at Karooport

Karoo Prinia common throughout

Tawny-flanked Prinia  Common in Kruger

African Dusky Flycatcher  Good views in Kirstenbosch and Grootvadersbosch

Grey-tit Flycatcher  2 in Kruger

Southern Black Flycatcher  several birds in the grounds of our lodge at Kruger

Fiscal Flycatcher  seen at Rooi Els and several more at De Hoop area

African Paradise Flycatcher  seen in Kruger on 3 dates

Cape White-eye  seen on 6 dates

Cape Batis  seen at Kirstenbosch,Constantia Greenbelt and Grootvadersbosch

Chinspot Batis  Regular in Kruger

African Pied Wagtail   common in Kruger

African (grassland ) Pipit  Fairly common in farmland around Western Cape

Plain-backed Pipit  1 along Darling Wildflower Route

Cape Longclaw  3 Eeast of Darling 1 near Karooport

Orange-breasted Sunbird  common at Silvermine, De Hoop and Rooi Els

Common Fiscal  Regular

Magpie Shrike  Common in Kruger

Black-crowned Tchagra  5 in Kruger

Southern Boubou  seen on 4 dates

Black-crowned  Tchagra 1 in Kruger

Southern Tchagra  Seen at Buchu Bush Camp and De Hoop

Orange-breasted Bush-Shrike  Single bird in Kruger

Bokmakierie  Seen on 5 dates, max 8 near Kommetjie Lighthouse

Southern white-crowned Shrike  4 in Kruger  with 4 on 22nd  1 on 23rd

Brubru Daily sightings in Kruger

Black-backed Puffback  Seen daily in Kruger

Cape Glossy Starling  regular in Kruger

Greater Blue-eared Starling  Seen only in Kruger

Burchell`s Starling  Fairly common in Kruger

Pale-winged Starling  6 at Karooport

Red winged Starling  Common around Cape Town

Common Starling  Regular sightings

Wattled Starling  A flock of 60 at Komatipoort

African Pied Starling  30 along Darling Wildflower Route, 20 en route to De Hoop

Red-billed Oxpecker  Seen daily in Kruger

Cape Sugarbird  At Kirstenbosch, Cape of Good Hope and De Hoop

Malachite Sunbird  Regular around the Cape

Greater Double-collared Sunbird  Single at Grootvadersbosch

Southern Double-collared Sunbird  Common in the Cape Town area

White-bellied Sunbird  Fairly common in Kruger

Marico Sunbird  Small numbers in Kruger

House Sparrow  regular sightings

Cape Sparrow  Common around Western Cape

Yellow-throated Petronia  Singles in Kruger

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow  Common in Kruger

Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver  Just 1 on our final day in Kruger

Village Weaver  2 in Kruger

Southern-masked Weaver  1 at Strandfontaine

Lesser-masked Weaver  Common in Kruger, particularly around the restaurant area at Lower Sabie

Cape Weaver  Seen on 4 dates with several roadside colonies along the Darling Wildflower Route

Southern-red Bishop  Seen on 4 dates max 100+ along Darling Wildflower Route

Yellow Bishop  Not as numerous as Southern but regular

Fan-tailed Widowbird  Seen in Kruger on 2 dates

Jameson`s Firefinch  4 Kruger on 20th   6 on 23rd

Red-billed Firefinch  Single in Kruger

Common Waxbill  Seen on 4 dates with max 10 on 14th

Blue Waxbill  Common in Kruger

Green-winged Pytillia  Several sightings in Kruger

Bronze Mannikin  5 birds in Bucklers Africa

Yellow Canary  5 Karooport 2 on 17th

Yellow-fronted Canary  10 at Kruger

Forest Canary  5 Kirstenbosch

Cape Siskin   up to 15 birds at Rooi Els

Cape Canary  Fairly common around the Cape

Common Chaffinch  3 at Kirstenbosch

White-throated Canary  2 at Karooport  4 at De Hoop

Black-headed Canary  5 Karooport

Golden-breasted Bunting   A few in Kruger

Cape Bunting  Good numbers in Karooport

Lark-like Bunting  6 at Karooport


Bryde`s Whale  Good views on the way out of False Bay

Humpback Whale  Excellent views of several animals around the Cape Lighthouse

Southern Right Whale  Superb views along the coast at several locations from Hermanus to Cape Agulhas often seen just off shore in the surf. Also seen off the pelagic.

Common Dolphin  prob Long Beaked  Few seen during Pelagic.

Cape Fur Seal  Great views during pelagic

Chacma Baboon  Several troops in Kruger also seen at the Cape of Good Hope.

Vervet Monkey  Fairly common in Kruger.

Black-backed Jackal  Excellent views at a Lion kill in Kruger.

Wild Dog  A group of 12 animals resting within feet of our vehicle in Kruger will live long in the memory for a long time. Brilliant!

Yellow Mongoose  Several sightings in farmland around the Cape with 2 on the Darling Wildflower Route and 2 near De Hoop.

Small (cape) Grey Mongoose  2 Along Darling Wildflower Route.

Spotted Hyena  Great views in Kruger.

Lion  We managed 2 sightings whilst in Kruger. Several Lions guarding a kill (Giraffe) surrounded by a whole host of Vultures, Jackals and Hyenas, also a roadside group early one morning just after entering the park.

Cheetah  Following a tip off and despite the scrum of vehicles we eventually had superb views of a pair sat under a tree during the heat of day.

Cape Rock Hyrax  1 at Boulders and 5 at Betty`s bay and a few at Yzerfontaine.

African Elephant  Common in Kruger with a few hairy moments when a few Bulls got a little too close to our vehicle.

Cape Mountain Zebra  Distant views of 5 animals on the far side of the Viel at De Hoop.

Burchell`s Zebra  Common in Kruger.

White Rhinoceros  Quite a few close range encounters in Kruger.

Hippopotamus  Plenty of sightings in Kruger.

Common Warthog  Regular sightings in Kruger.

Giraffe  Lots of close range views in Kruger.

African Buffalo  Max count of 50 in Kruger.

Greater Kudu  Regular in Kruger.

Eland  Single animal on the Cape of Good Hope.

Steinbuck  Several seen in Kruger.

Klipspringer  An animal appeared on rocks as we watched a group of Wild Dogs.

Waterbuck  Several in Kruger.

Springbok  Good views in the Eiercop area.

Impala  Very common in Kruger.

Bontebok  1 on Darling Wildflower Route and 7 at De Hoop.

Wildebeast  Good views in Kruger.

Eastern Grey Squirrel  1 on the 15th

Nile Crocodile  Common in Kruger.

A massive thanks to Alex for taking the nightly log and for this draft.