Bird watching day tours around Cape Town can include three or more of the venues on our day tour list.
There are many places to visit on the West Coast, stretching from Rietvlei at Milnerton northwards to the gannet colony at Lambert’s Bay. One would have to allow two to three days to comfortably explore the region.
The West Coast is best in early spring. Not only are most of the common birds breeding at this time, but the Strandveld is carpeted in the spectacular display of wild flowers for which the West Coast and Namaqualand are world-famous.
West Coast National Park
As a day trip, the main highlight would undoubtedly be a visit to the West Coast National Park where guests can expect to see many of the Strandveld specials. An early entry to the park increases the chances of seeing the elusive Caracal along with the more regular sightings of Steenbok and Common Duiker. The park is home to Zebra, Bontebok, Eland, Red Hartebeest and Bat-eared fox to name a few; however, due to the size of the park and the density of the vegetation, sightings of these mammals are not common.
For birders, the park is a must-see. The mudflats that surround the lagoon are renowned for the incredible number of migrant waders that can be seen during the summer months. The well-positioned hides make for excellent viewing and photographic opportunities; however, tide times must be taken into consideration when planning a visit.
Some common sightings are Red Knot, Little Stint, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Ringed Plovers, Curlew Sandpiper and Bar-tailed Godwit.
A visit to the freshwater pan at Abraamskraal is always productive. Regular sightings are:African Shelduck, Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, SpoonbillMoorhen, Black-winged Stilts, Blacksmith Lapwing, Blacksmith Lapwing, Black Crake and African Rail
In the reed beds around the pond, the Cape and Masked Weaver; Little Rush and Lesser Swamp Warbler; and the Yellow and White-throated Canaries are plentiful.
While travelling through the park, a watchful eye must be kept on the roadside verges for Cape Spur Fowl, along with the less numerous Grey-winged Francolin and Southern Black Korhaan.
Many different Strandveld bird species are found throughout the park in the low scrub-like vegetation including:
The most sought-after raptor in the park is no doubt the Black Harrier and visitors are often rewarded with a view of this beautiful bird quartering over the open veld. Jackal Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Black- shouldered Kite and Rock Kestrel are also regular sightings.