Greater Flamingoes, Strandfontein

   
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Cape to Nature's Valley, Africa 2005 
2-23 October 2005
by Henry Detwiler & Bob Miller
Bob Miller and I joined our hosts Barry and Margie Hawthorne of Cape Town for a whirlwind 3-week tour of South Africa.  This is a summary of our adventures.
445 species -- bird list may be viewed by clicking > BIRD LIST
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.   

After flying from San Diego to New York, New York to Johannesburg, and Jo'burg to Cape Town, our hosts Barry and Margie Hawthorne picked us up and we enjoyed a well-earned night's sleep. Bob and I had led Barry and Margie on several birding adventures in Arizona, California, and Texas--now they were going to take us on an unparalleled journey through South Africa!


 Fiscal Shrike


Barry, Henry, Bob, & Margie
 

 

   
 South African Penguins - baby and Mama

One of our fist destinations was Simon's Town, home to a colony of South African (Jackass) Penguins.  Listening to them "bray" was a real treat, and gave true meaning to their original name.  On the beach we were also treated to our first cormorants, gulls, and terns.


Simon's Town & South African Penguins
  

 

Cape Bulbuls - West Coat NP


Winery - West Coat NP
 

West Coast National Park was a wonderful spot north of Cape Town, with marshes, grassland, and sand dunes.  Bulbuls are one of the most common birds of South Africa, as widespread as our Northern Mockingbird.  We were also treated to some more exotic species, like Black Harrier, Ostrich, and Pied Kingfisher.
 


West Coast National Park

Here too, we saw our first mammals, which would turn out to be a daily occurrence.  This tiny steenbok is one of the smallest varieties of antelope in southern Africa, and doesn't get any larger than a German Shepard.


Steenbok

 


Ostrich - West Coat NP


Marsh Sandpiper


Sacred Ibis
 

One of the treats in South Africa was the outstanding numbers of wading birds, and the many spots available to view them.  The Strandfontein water works close to Cape Town was a haven for Greater Flamingoes (picture above) and large numbers of waterfowl.  No matter where we went, we encountered both Glossy and Sacred Ibis--more common even than our Cattle Egrets.


 Coast off of Strandfontein
 


Roo Ils

Rooi Els is a rocky peninsula southeast of Capetown.  Here we found a family of rare, endemic Cape Rock-Jumpers, a Black (Verreaux) Eagle, and a Cape Rock Thrush.  In addition, we saw our first Baboon and a Cape Fur Seal!
  


Cape Rock-Jumper


Gymnogene (Harrier-Hawk) and Crowned Eagle


Lesser Double-collared Sunbird
 

As we moved eastward, the diversity of birds increased, and we saw more species of sunbirds.  Both Lesser and Greater Double-collared Sunbirds were candy for the eyes--not unlike our hummingbirds.  In Gonubie, on the southern coast of South Africa, we saw a spectacle that few have witnessed--a Crowned Eagle sparring with a Gymnogene. It was a fortuitous sighting, since we didn't see either species again during our stay.

  
Cape White-eye
 


Drakensberg Escarpment

The Drakensberg escarpment is the highest mountain range in South Africa (11,000'+), and during our trip up Sani Pass to the Kingdom of Lesotho, we gained 4000 four-wheeling feet in four miles.  The scenery was awesome, and the birds weren't bad either!
 

October is springtime in the southern hemisphere, and flowers were blooming everywhere.  We saw many varieties of lilies, including these fancy Bushmen's Paintbrushes.


Bushmen's Paintbrush
 


Bald Ibis, Lesotho

Our day trip to Lesotho produced some fine, sought-after species like Drakensberg Rock Jumper, Drakensberg Siskin, Grey Tit, and this fancy Bald Ibis.  Three Lammergeiers (Bearded Vultures) were one of the highlights of the trip!  On several of the rocks gnarly-looking yellow lizards peered back at us.

ON to PAGE 2

Photos Henry Detwiler & Bob Miller