South Africa

My time in the Western Cape is coming towards the end.  I arrived a week ago to brilliant sunny weather that I went up Table Mountain where I had fantastic views as did hundreds of others.  A Rock Kestrel caught its prey from a steep drive.  The next day was some serious bird watching at Strandfontein with lot of water birds and a Spotted Eagle Owl. It was my first ighting of African Oystercatcher which have mad a come back from the brink of extinction thanks to a French water snail that has colonised the shore line.  In the afternoon I drove around the Cape visiting Cape Point (Souther Right Whales) and Cape of Good Hope.  It was my first sighting of Ostrich as well and of course I stopped at Boulders Bay for Aftican Penguin.  Sunday was the pelagic in a small boat.  I was not sea sick thanks to a pill that kept sending me to sleep though one chap did not last a hour before he turned green!  Anyway about 7 miles south of Cape Point we met a trawler that was finishing processing fish and then took up another catch.  It was a superb experience to see so many birds including 5 types of Albatross.  O the way back we picked up all 4 types of Cormorant and for good measure also added Black-bellied Storm Petrel.  Monday morning I headed for the West Coast National Park and on the way followed the Darling loop.  This was birding paradise with so many species with Blue Crane, Cape Long-billed Lark, Bokmakerie, Cape Bulbul and lots of Karoo Prinia which was to become a common bird.  At the park there were a lot of waders  as as well as Southern Black Korhaan and Black Harrier.  A extension to the Cerebos salt Works for Chesnut-banded Plover proved fruitless as did a stop the following morning after successfully finding 2 Verreaux's Eagles.  It was avery long drive to Karooppoort with roadworks that had a waiting time of around 10 mins.  One way traffic for about 5 kms was the norm at least 3 times on one particular road.  The Karro was warm unlike the coast and I spent ages trying to find Karoo specialists but only succeeded in White-backed Mousebird, Booted eagle, Karoo Chat, Lark Like Bunting, Grey Tit and Namaqua Warbler.  Along drive back to Cape Town and experienced rush hour at Paarl; never to be repeated.  On Wednesday morning met up with the Cape Birding Club at Kirstenbosch for just over 2 hours when they finished and I continued.  The Spotted Eagle Owl was nesting in the courtyard and we could see the top of the chick.  I added Cape Sugarbird and Brimstone Canary to my list.  The afternoon was spent looking for the elusive Knysna Warbler that was heard but not seen so does not get added to the list.  Yesterday I met the committee of the Hermanus Birding Club at Rooiels by chance.  We had excellent views of Cape Rockjumper and Cape Rock Thrush as well as other birds. The next stop was Harold Porter Botanical Gardens with Cape Siskin and Swee Waxbill.  I was shown a back road that was covered in birds including Plain-backed Pipit.  The afrernoon I stood where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans met doing the tourist bit.  Today is my final day here and more birds to find around Agulhas.  My total now stands at 356 species for the trip.

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