Wednesday, 31 December 2014

South Africa – August to November 2014

This was close to a three month trip for Yvonne and myself to South Africa, from late August through to early November, with a three week side-trip to Madagascar in late September. The plan was to visit the Garden Route, then Western and Northern Cape for the flowering season and some range restricted birds, followed by the trip to Madagascar. On getting back to South Africa we planned to travel north to the Limpopo River, then down through the Kruger National Park, then Mkuze in northern Natal, followed by Swaziland and finally Wakkerstroom on the way back to Johannesburg airport.

The critical timing for the trip was to see the Namaqualand flower displays in early September, which was towards the end of the flowering season. For this part of the trip we had a private tour lead by Patrick Cardwell of Avian Leisure. There were two main objectives of this tour, to see the flowers and to find a number of range restricted birds of the Western Cape, Northern Cape and inland Karoo areas, which included a whole swag of larks.

Namaqualand National Park
Whilst the floral displays of Namaqualand Daisies were impressive, the stone plants (succulents) of the Knersvlakte were probably the most interesting of the plants and flowers seen for the trip.
 
The Avian Leisure tour was superbly organised, with Patrick providing good company with an excellent knowledge of the fauna and flora. We stayed at a number of small towns, with some excellent accommodation and great meals, along the way. These were places we had driven through or passed by in our previous trip from Cape Town to Augrabies many years ago.  
 
I had also organised a couple of days birding with Samson Mulaudzi in the Soutpansberg to chase down a few of the local specialities, such as Bat Hawk, and to visit the Miombo woodlands in Venda. Other that the couple of days in the Soutpansberg and the organised tour with Avian Leisure, we followed our own itinerary.

As regards birding, we saw a total of 471 birds during out visit to South Africa and Swaziland, of which 30 were lifers and 50 were new for South Africa. Some of the birding highlights and key target birds I was chasing were as follows:
  • Knysna Woodpecker – Storms River Mouth
  • Knysna Warbler – Storms River Mouth
  • Cape Siskin – Swartberg Pass
  • Chukar Partridge – Robben Island
  • Common Chaffinch – Tokai Forest, Western Cape
  • Chestnut-banded Plover – Salt pans in the Western Cape
  • Cape Penduline Tit – West Coast National Park
  • Eurasian Curlew – Langebaan Lagoon, West Coast National Park
  • Antarctic Tern – Paternoster on the West Coast
  • Protea Canary – Swellendam
  • All nine target larks - Karoo Long-billed, Agulhas Long-billed, Karoo, Red, Barlow’s, Cape Clapper, Sclater’s and Stark’s Lark plus Black-eared Sparrow-lark
  • Karoo and Tractrac Chats – Northern Cape and Karoo
  • Cisticolidae family - Red-faced and Grey-backed Cisticola, Namaqua and Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and Karoo Eremomela
  • Bradfield’s Swift – Northern Cape
  • Double-banded Courser – Black Mountain Conservation Area
  • Cape Rockjumper – Betty’s Bay, Western Cape
  • Victorin’s Warbler – Betty’s Bay
  • Franklin’s Gull – Strandfontein Sewage Works
  • Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk – Strandfontein Sewage Works
  • Bat Hawk – Soutpansberg
  • African Broadbill – Soutpansberg, a pair of birds doing their aerial displays
  • Scaly-throated Honeyguide - Soutpansberg
  • Pink-throated Twinspot – Miombo Forest in Venda
  • Striped Pipit – Found two birds in the rocky areas of the main camp of Mapungubwe
  • Steppe Eagle – Good views of Steppe Eagle and Tawny Eagle perched together
  • Yellow-billed Oxpecker – Seen close to Satara on some Buffalo
  • Greater Painted Snipe – A total of 11 birds seen on Limpopo River and at Engelhard Dam
  • Blue Swallow – Malolotja Nature Reserve in Swaziland
  • Pygmy Kingfisher – Seen several times at Mkuze Game Reserve
  • European Honey Buzzard – Mkuze Game Reserve
  • Yellow-breasted Pipit - Wakkerstroom
The Blue Swallow was the best bird seen for the trip, and was the reason for including Swaziland on our itinerary. The Blue Swallow is becoming increasingly difficult to see in Southern Africa and is no longer seen at many of its traditional breeding sites, such as the Blue Swallow Reserve at Kaapsehoop. The following distribution map illustrates the rapid decline of the Blue Swallow in recent years. Other than the Ixopo area in Natal, the Malolotja Nature Reserve in Swaziland was our best chance of seeing the bird and there had been sightings there in the previous summer.

As regards mammals, we saw Cape Clawless Otter at Lower Sabie and Honey Badger at Satara camp which were probably our best mammal sightings for Kruger National Park and also saw quite a few Rhino close to Lower Sabie. Had a couple of Leopard on a night drive from Letaba Camp and three Lion at a kill near Shingwedzi. Generally the game viewing in the KNP was pretty poor and the numbers of mammals, such as Impala, Zebra and Wildebeest seemed to be far less than we remember from previous visits.

Rhino poaching in South Africa is rapidly becoming a huge issue and since the start of the poaching epidemic in 2008, South Africa has lost over 2,600 rhinos, with 83 killed in 2008, increasing to 1,004 in 2013 and 1,116 rhino killed in 2014 up until 10th December. With rhino horn going for more than US$60,000 per kg on the black market, as compared with gold at US$37,000 per kg, there is obviously a huge incentive for poaching.
There are a number of strategies in place to try and rein in the slaughter, such as relocation of rhino and removal of the rhino horn, and the game farm we visited in Tankwa Karoo has a policy of injecting the rhino horn with dye and poison.


A letter of authority is required to take a rental car into Swaziland, which is issued free of charge, at least by AVIS. With this letter and valid passports, it’s very easy and quick to enter and exit Swaziland.

We had organised a Wild Card before our trip which enabled free access to the National Parks within South Africa. The card also avoids payment of the daily conservation fees, which can be considerable. For the Kruger National Park the conservation fees are currently R264 per adult per day for international visitors.

Trip Report
Garden Route
Friday 22nd August: Arrival
Flew from Melbourne to Sydney to Johannesburg and finally to Port Elizabeth, leaving Melbourne at 4:30am and arriving in PE at 7:30pm, so a long day considering the eight hour time change, but no problem with the Qantas and BA flights.

Spent the night at Forest Hall Guest House which had lovely spacious accommodation, huge comfortable bed and a large well wooded garden.
Saturday 23rd August: Storms River
After a huge breakfast, picked up the AVIS rental 4WD at Port Elizabeth airport and drove down to Storms River, in a howling wind.

Rugged eastern coastline of the Tsitsikamma rainforest at Storms River
Stayed at Storms River Mouth rest camp right on the sea.

Sunday 24th August: Wilderness
Up early, well before sunrise and took a walk up to the Storms River suspension bridge. Had some excellent birding in the early hours of the morning, with Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, the non-descript and secretive Knysna Warbler initially heard in the pre-dawn gloom and then seen just after sunrise, plus one of my key target birds, the Knysna Woodpecker being seen with an Olive Woodpecker.

Storms River Mouth
Mid-morning took a drive through to the Wilderness to meet up with Sue and George, close friends of ours for many years. Took an afternoon drive around the Wilderness area and spent the night with Sue and George.

Monday 25th August: Oudtshoorn
After a very enjoyable stay with Sue and George, we left in late morning for the town of George, to sort out some banking and then onto Oudtshoorn for lunch.

Lovely town of Wilderness
Stayed at Die Fonteine Guest House just to the north of Oudtshoorn, close to the turnoff to the Cango Caves. This was a small farm with lovely accommodation and our hosts made us feel very welcome, with good farm style hospitality, especially after hearing we were originally from South Africa.

Greater Double-collared Sunbird in Strelitzia flowers at Die Fonteine
Tuesday 26th August: Swartberg Pass
We took a slow drive up the Swartberg Pass in the early morning, stopping along the way for birding, and ended up in the lovely historic town of Prince Albert for lunch.

The Swartberg Pass is very impressive and worth the drive just for the lovely views. We had good weather for the trip, with clear skies and sunshine, although quite windy at the top. The following day the pass was completely shrouded in heavy storm clouds and wouldn’t had offered any decent views.

Rugged Mountains of the Swartberg Pass
Prince Albert (Prins Albert) lies on the southern edge of the Great Karoo, nestling under the majestic Swartberg Mountains. The village has many well-preserved Cape Dutch, Karoo and Victorian buildings, thirteen of which are National Monuments. The town would have been a very nice place to spend a night.
On the Swartberg Pass there were quite a few sunbirds and Cape Sugarbird. We saw a flock of Cape Siskin on the way back, which was one of my target birds.

Klipspringer in early morning on Swartberg Pass
Spent the night at Die Fonteine Guest House and had dinner at the upmarket Buffelsdrift Game Lodge overlooking the lake, which was quite close to our accommodation.

Wednesday 27th August: Breede River, Swellendam
After a wonderful farm style breakfast, with a huge choice of special breads, cheese, bacon, eggs, etc., we drove through to Swellendam to shop for groceries, before driving to our accommodation on the Breede River.

The Breede River area is good for birding, especially along the farm roads. Some of the highlights on the drive to the Breede River were huge flocks of Blue Crane, a single Ludwig’s Bustard, Cape Clapper Lark and Grey-backed Cisticola.

Blue Crane

We stayed at Aloe Ridge in a huge thatched chalet overlooking the Breede River. This was one of our top places we stayed at, with huge accommodation, lovely views and we had the place to ourselves.
Aloe Ridge on the Breede River
Thursday 28th August: Breede River, Swellendam
Overnight we had rain and a lot of wind. It got very cold during the day and the wood fire heater couldn’t cope, this accommodation is probably best in summer. I went for a walk between rain showers and had a look up at the mountain ranges behind Swellendam, when the clouds lifted, to see that they were covered in snow. I had a pair of Martial Eagle floating overhead about 10m above where I was standing on the ridge.

We had Giant Kingfisher visiting our veranda, a wet bedraggled Yellow Bishop sheltering on the deck chairs, and Malachite Sunbird and Southern Double-collared Sunbird feeding on the flowers in the garden. Also close to our accommodation we had the delightful Swee Waxbill.

Malachite Sunbird
Overnight at Aloe Ridge.
Western and Northern Cape
Friday 29th August: Simon’s Town
In the morning we did some birding along the local farm roads before driving though to Simon’s Town. The bustard sightings were good with Ludwig’s Bustard, Denham’s Bustard, Karoo Korhaan and Southern Black Korhaan being seen.

The drive to Simon’s Town was scenic and we had a short stop on Sir Lowry’s Pass, overlooking the Cape Flats and False Bay. In the late afternoon we visited Boulders Beach to see the African Penguin.

Our accommodation was the Watsonia Apartment owned by Patrick and Marie-Louise Cardwell of Avian Leisure.  Patrick was to be taking us on a private tour starting on Tuesday the following week. The accommodation was very spacious, well-appointed and had views overlooking False Bay.
In the evening we had porcupine coming into the garden to feed, quite special to see these mammals up close.

Saturday 30th August: Simon’s Town
We spent the morning at Strandfontein Sewage Works and saw a good range of birds, with highlights including Maccoa Duck and Water Thick-knee. I was looking for the Franklin’s Gull but it wasn’t seen that day by ourselves or others birders at the site.

Overnight at Watsonia Apartment.
Sunday 31st August: Simon’s Town

I had a pelagic trip booked for the day leaving from Simon’s Town and I was looking forward to some good birding in some of the best waters for pelagic birds. I went with another birder from the USA, who was also staying at the Avian Leisure apartments and we headed out across False Bay on two small boats, in what was an uncomfortable swell.

View of Cape Point from the sea
On getting out beyond Cape Point the seas became quite unsettled and the skippers abandoned the plan to head out to the trawler fleet. There were reports of increasing winds in the afternoon, however as we sat stationary in the sea, the winds died down and we had very calm seas. The guides then produced two small containers of fish oil, must have been 100ml each, and had limited success in attracting birds. There was no chum and this is the first pelagic I have been on where no chum is used, and I have done many pelagics previously including from Simons Town.
We then headed back into the harbour having seen absolutely nothing of interest and the few birds we did see, such as Shy and Yellow-nosed Albatross, can easily be seen from the shore. So a very disappointing trip, which could have been a lot better, if we had decent boats and proper chum had been used, given that the weather didn’t stop us going further out to sea.

I was sent an official trip report by the organisers, Cape Town Pelagics, which gave the impression of a wonderful trip and didn’t reflect anywhere close to reality.

Met up with Patrick in the late afternoon, who was just back from a trip up the West Coast, so had the latest information on the flowering season.
Overnight at Watsonia Apartment.

Monday 1st September: Robben Island
We drove into Cape Town in the morning, taking an interesting route trying to miss the morning traffic, to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.  We then took a catamaran trip to Robben Island on calm glassy seas, with quite a few African Penguin seen along the way.

View of Table Mountain from trip to Robben Island
On Robben Island we had a short bus tour and then a walk through the prison with an ex-prisoner giving a running commentary on life in prison under the Apartheid Government, a bit heavy on the ANC politics but nonetheless an interesting visit. After the prison tour we escaped the prison confines and took a walk back down to our catamaran.

Overall a lovely day with warm sunny weather and a pleasant trip. I did get to see the Chukar Partridge which is an introduced species for South Africa, only occurring on Robben Island.

Overnight at Watsonia Apartment.
Tuesday 2nd September: Cape of Good Hope
After a lovely breakfast, we commenced our tour with Patrick and drove down to Cape Point Nature Reserve. The weather was warm and clear, with no wind. At Cape Point we had good sightings of Cape Siskin, Cape Grassbird and Peregrine Falcon. Patrick has an excellent knowledge of the flowers and plants, and spent quite a bit of time describing the various species seen along the way.

Cape Point
We drove down to Tokai Forest in suburbia for lunch and had great views of a Black Sparrowhawk, which breeds in the pine forests, and saw Common Chaffinch, another introduced species which had eluded me previously.

We then spent the afternoon at Kleinplaas Dam where I saw three Cape Clapper Lark, this Cape subspecies apiata having a pale grey back and quite distinct from the Agulhas subspecies marjoriae we had seen the previous week.  

The trip with Patrick had a large focus on Larks and we were going to look for a number of range restricted Larks along the way. In addition, with the various splitting of Larks such as the Long-billed Lark into four species, it was important to identify the various subspecies as well. I had a target list of ten Larks, with the Stark’s Lark very unlikely, this being a nomadic bird and the Short-clawed Lark being found around Pietersburg and in southeast Botswana.
Had dinner at an excellent Italian restaurant in Simon’s Town and overnight at Watsonia Apartment. The Simon’s Town area has a wide range of excellent restaurants and we tried out different restaurants every evening.

Wednesday 3rd September: West Coast Park
After another great breakfast, we packed up the Toyota Fortuna and drove through to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for a quick visit. The gardens were splendid as always and we had good views of a pair of Spotted Eagle Owl roosting in the trees. We also had brief views of an African Goshawk flying over.

Spotted Eagle Owl
We then headed up the West Coast with a quick stop in Milnerton for White-backed Duck, then Melkbostrand for good views of Crowned Cormorant. Saw some good raptors around the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station area, including Booted Eagle and Black Harrier. We stopped at one of Patrick’s private sites a bit further north to see Chestnut-banded Plover, one of my target birds for my South African list.

Cape Dutch style restaurant at West Coast National Park
We arrived at the West Coast Park at midday and spent the next 2.5 hours looking at flowers, birds and the odd snake. Plenty of tortoises crossing the roads, something we hadn’t seen before, and probably to do with the season, as all the flowers were on display and the vegetation was very lush.
 
West Coast National Park
At a quarry in Langebaan we had a Verreaux’s Eagle and another Black Harrier, the latter being a raptor we saw quite often on the trip.
In the late afternoon we had a brief visit to Paternoster and saw about 30 Antarctic Tern, many in full breeding plumage, and one of my target birds.
Overnight in Langebaan.

Thursday 4th September: West Coast Park
After breakfast with our Scottish hosts, we spent most of the day in the West Coast Park. We visited an area which is only open for the flowering season and had some nice displays of local flowers.

Blue Wildebeest in wild flowers at West Coast
A nice range of over 80 birds seen in the park with highlights including African Rail (heard), Eurasian Curlew, Lesser Honeyguide, Karoo Lark, great views of Cape Penduline Tit and mixed flocks of over 100 Greater and Lesser Flamingo.

Late in the afternoon we drove to the nearby Jacob’s Bay for some more birding, which included seeing Large-billed Lark and Red-capped Lark.

Overnight at some excellent accommodation in Jacob’s Bay, which is a small village of whitewashed cottages, and has a lot of character. Had dinner at a rustic seafood restaurant overlooking the rocky shoreline, very scenic and excellent food.
Friday 5th September: Clanwilliam
I was up before sunrise and took a walk around Jacob’s Bay village. Saw a Spotted Eagle Owl moving between the houses and was joined by a local couple still in their pyjamas, who also managed to see the bird. After breakfast we had a short drive around town and eventually found a pair of Grey-winged Francolin in a grassy patch.

Attractive town of Jacob's Bay
Drove further up the West Coast, via St Helena Bay and Velddrif to Clanwilliam, with some birding stops along the way. We visited the Ramskop Flower Reserve for the flowers and succulents on display. Had a short stop at a local shoe outlet and bought some very nice leather sandals and shoes.

Took a drive to a nearby gorge to try and find Protea Canary. After quite a bit of looking, Patrick and Yvonne headed back to the car and I kept searching, eventually getting good views of the Protea Canary perched in the open and singing. I was chuffed at finding this bird as it can be a very tricky bird to find. As the field guide says, it’s unobtrusive and often sits quietly in canopy, easily overlooked if not calling.

Overnight at the Long House in Clan William.
Saturday 6th September: Kamieskroon
After breakfast we continued our journey northwards, with stops in the Vanrhynsdorp area where we saw Grey-backed Sparrow-lark and Karoo Chat, and then onto the Knersvlakte area where we saw the lovely Rufous-eared Warbler.

We visited a private farm in the Knersvlakte area to explore the fascinating stone plants (succulents), which were probably the most interesting of the plants and flowers seen for the trip. The Knersvlakte is known for its characteristic white quartzite gravel which conceals the stone plants. The word Knersvlakte literally means “grinding flat” and gets its name from the grinding sound of the iron rimmed wagon wheels cutting through the quartz stones.

Stone Plants - Bababoudjies (babies’ bottoms)
Had lunch at the Kern Nursery situated at the edge of the Knersvlakte. This nursery, the largest for South African succulents, was founded to preserve the unique Knersvlakte succulents, many of which are difficult to differentiate from the pebbles near which they grow.
Rare variety of succulent at Knersvlakte
We then visited the section of the Namaqua National Park closest to Kamieskroon in the mid-afternoon, which had put on an impressive floral display.

Namaqualand National Park
Checked into our hotel in Kamieskroon and just before sunset we took a drive up into the hills behind the town in an attempt to see Cape Eagle Owl. We didn’t find this rarely seen bird, however did see two Spotted Eagle Owl, Ground Woodpecker and a well-established feral population of Indian Peafowl.

Kamieskroon Hotel garden views
Had dinner at Kamieskroon Hotel which was packed out with visitors also looking at the flowers.

Sunday 7th September: Springbok
Today we spent most of the day at the lovely Goegap Nature Reserve, a municipal reserve just outside Springbok. This was a very pleasant reserve, one of the best maintained we visited on our trip, with a good range of flowers, habitats and scenery. The area is good for Aloe dichotoma also known as the quiver tree.

Goegap Nature Reserve
The highlight was a good sighting of the lovely Cinnamon-breasted Warbler, which was found in the rocky outcrops, and closely resembles the Grasswrens of Australia. Also had good views of Karoo Eremomela. 

Goegap Nature Reserve
Overnight at a guest house in Springbok.

Monday 8th September: Port Nolloth
After breakfast we drove through to Port Nolloth with some stops along the way. We had nice sightings of about 30 Namaqua Sandgrouse flying into drink at a farm dam close to the road. Other highlights were about 20 Bradfield’s Swift and three Lanner Falcon at a nest which had two chicks.

Namaqua Sandgrouse
We arrived into Port Nolloth at mid-morning and did some birding before lunch, with highlights being Cape Long-billed Lark and Tractrac Chat.

After lunch we had a short trip to find our first Barlow’s Lark (coastal subspecies) and then a quick trip to the waste treatment plant to see some more Bradfield’s Swift.

Balow's Lark (coastal subspecies)
Port Nolloth is an unexciting mining town, with business based on the extensive diamond mining in the area. Like many outback and mining towns, there are lots of suspect looking characters. It was a bit of surprise when Patrick showed us our accommodation, which was overlooking the sea and had lovely rooms, friendly staff and lots of character.

After checking in, Patrick and I did some more birding and saw six Barlow’s Lark, six Cape Long-billed Lark, Karoo Lark, Tractrac Chat and Cape Penduline Tit.  Overnight at Port Nolloth.

Tuesday 9th September: Pofadder
We had an early start as we drove westwards to Aggeneys on the way to Pofadder, our next stop. On the way we stopped at our Sandgrouse hotspot and had over 1,000 Namaqua Sandgrouse flying in in large flocks of about 100 birds each. Quite an amazing sight with the birds calling as they few with a nasal ki-ki-vee. We also saw two dead Spotted Eagle Owl at a roadside cutting.

Patrick had organised access to the Black Mountain Conservation Area with one of his many contacts, and this was a key site for Red Lark. During our visit we had good views of three Red Lark (redder dunes form), a very attractive lark found in the red sand dunes and quite different in colouration to Red Lark (browner plains form) we would see later in the Brandvlei area. Surprisingly whilst three subspecies have been described, these differently coloured larks are not identified as separate subspecies according to Roberts VII and the IOC.
Other excellent birds seen at Black Mountain were Stark’s Lark, which we didn’t think we would see on this trip, and Double-banded Courser.

After lunch we took some back roads through to Pofadder and saw about 120 Grey-backed Sparrow-lark. We then took a drive to the Namibian border at Onseepkans. Arriving at 5pm we found the border post deserted, this being the “New South Africa” which closes down at 4pm. Patrick and I took a walk across the Orange River bridge, staying in South African territory. We did see some border guards from Namibia, so decided to head back to the car.  We saw Orange River White-eye and Dusky Sunbird at this site, and Ludwig’s Bustard on the way in.

Harsh Northern Cape area close to Orange River
Pofadder is not a tourist destination however we did have good accommodation and meals at the Pofadder Hotel.
Wednesday 10th September: Augrabies National Park
A quick drive around the Pofadder produced four Karoo Long-billed Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Grey-backed Sparrow-lark, Black-eared Sparrow-lark, Rufous-eared Warbler and Karoo Chat. On the drive to Kakamas we stopped for Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, Pygmy Falcon, Martial Eagle and about 140 Lark-like Bunting.

Karoo Long-billed Lark
Augrabies National Park is a lovely place to stay, especially when the Orange River is in flood. Some of the highlights for the afternoon were Rosy-faced Lovebird flying over, Sabota Lark and about 40 Alpine Swift.  We didn’t see any Bradfield’s Swift at the falls and this area is usually a good spot for them, luckily we had seen them previously on the trip.

Augrabies Falls
We had a lovely chalet overlooking the Orange River and had some interesting geckos feeding around the outside lights in the evening.  



Thursday 11th September: Brandvlei
We did some early morning birding at Augrabies with highlights being two out of range Burchell’s Coucal, according to the Sasol and Robert’s distribution maps, plus Swallow-tailed Bee-eater and Orange River White-eye.

We then drove down to Kleinhardt stopping for an impressive Sociable Weavers nest and saw four Black-faced Waxbill, again considerably out of range according to the Sasol and Robert’s distribution maps. Saw three Karoo Korhaan and two Lanner Falcon on this section of road.
Sociable Weavers nest
After checking into our lovely farm stay close to Brandvlei, Patrick and I visited some private farming areas to try and find some larks. We had to trim back the thick thorn bushes along the drive, and I was driving and Patrick was doing the pruning, when we entered some stony plains, much like gibber plains in Australia. I slammed on the brakes and in front of us was a Sclater’s Lark collecting nesting material. Patrick managed to get some good photos and the Sclater’s Lark wasn’t too fussed about us. I think of all the larks we were looking for, this was one that Patrick was most concerned about finding.
Sclater's Lark (photo by Patrick Cardwell)
We drove further into the farming area but didn’t see too much. On the way back we saw more Sclater’s Lark and Patrick found a nest with a fledgling on it, just a scape in the gravel and very hard to see. Patrick got some good photos without disturbing the birds and we were really chuffed, as this was a very rare sighting, and a total of five Sclater’s Lark wasn’t too bad either.

Had a great braai in the evening at the farm house, a huge house all to ourselves, in the middle of the dry desolate Karoo.

Friday 12th September: Calvinia
We did some early morning birding in the Brandvlei area, seeing six Sclater’s Lark, four Red Lark (browner plains form), Large-billed Lark, Spike-heeled Lark, Karoo Long-billed Lark, Sabota Lark, Red-capped Lark, about 120 Lark-like Bunting, Black-chested Snake Eagle and a well out of range African Fish Eagle feeding on road kill on the side of the road.

Red Lark (browner plains form)
We then drove to the Akkerendam Nature Reserve near Calvinia for the flowers. This reserve had some interesting and scenic drives, with walking trails up the overlooking sandstone hills.  There we saw about 12 Black-headed Canary, the only African Rock Pipit of the trip, plus Namaqua, Rufous-eared and Layard’s Warbler.

Akkerendam Nature Reserve
Overnight in Calvinia where we were upgraded from our nice room to a lovely historic house, which was huge. Dinner at a historical Dutch restaurant in Calvinia, lots of character and squeaking floorboards.  Had a Spotted Eagle Owl at our accommodation, which we heard and then saw in flight, just before dinner.

Saturday 13th September: Nieuwoudtville
In the morning we took a short drive to Nieuwoudtville for some roadside flowers and birding. We then took a drive through the Nieuwoudtville Wildflower Reserve, when we had range of different flowering species.  In the afternoon we visited some other areas south of the town and had nice views of Common Quail being flushed, about 60 Blue Crane and some Ludwig’s Bustard.

One of many flowering species at Niewoudtville
Overnight at a lovely farm stay near Nieuwoudtville. This was another delightful place to stay, which had been researched and selected by Patrick and Marie-Louise on their scouting trips. Dinner at the farm stay was quite special with very friendly hosts, although quite busy with flower tourists.

Accommodation at Niewoudtville with Patrick at car
Sunday 14th September: Tankwa Karoo
Before sunrise, Patrick and I walked up the hill behind our farm cottage to see Cape Clapper Lark displaying. We then walked down to the farm dam and saw a pair of Black Sparrowhawk which were probably nesting in the tall eucalypts. These birds were quite a bit out of range according to the Roberts VII distribution maps.

Black Sparrowhawk
We then took a scenic drive via Clanwilliam through the Cederberg Ranges to a game farm in the Tankwa Karoo region. Arriving late afternoon to our very nice accommodation, we settled in and saw Fairy Flycatcher and Western Barn Owl near our accommodation.

Monday 15th September: Tankwa Karoo
We took a game drive in the early morning, one of the worst I have ever done, where the guide had no idea about game or birds, making up the bird names as we went along.  A White-breasted Cormorant became a “White-breasted Darter”, the Little Grebe became a “Little Whistling Duck” and a Bokmakierie was a “Yellow-breasted Sunbird”. OK so he wasn’t too good on his birds but then he couldn’t spot the Kudu which all the guests saw close to our vehicle. Patrick kindly got a refund for the game drive costs after complaining to the manager.

Spotted Thick-knee
Patrick and I took a walk around the game farm later in the morning and saw a nice range of birds including some more Rufous-eared Warbler and a Chat Flycatcher which was at the southern end of its range according to Roberts VII.

In the afternoon we took a drive along the dirt roads and a nice range of birds including Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Chestnut-vented Warbler, Lesser Swamp Warbler and African Reed Warbler.

Getting back, I discovered that we had been upgraded to better rooms, as local contractors had damaged the plumbing system. Overnight in Tankwa Karoo with a lovely dinner in the huge thatched dining room.
Tuesday 16th September: Grootvadersbosch
In the early morning Patrick and I had some good birding close to our accommodation, where we saw 50 species of birds within an hour, which included close-up views of White-backed Duck, Black-crowned Night Heron, Common Greenshank and Little Stint on the farm dam. 

After breakfast we headed south to Montagu and then to the Tradouw Pass, which we had travelled on a few weeks earlier on our drive from Oudtshoorn to Swellendam. At the short stop on the pass we again saw Cape Rock Thrush, plus had views of a distant Peregrine Falcon, African Black Duck and Black Saw-wing.

Tradouw Pass
We had a lunch time stop of the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve before driving onto our farm stay at a nearby farm. Here we had a huge four bedroom house all to ourselves, with a huge kitchen, dining room, lounge and extensive gardens.  The hosts provided their staff for cooking our meals while we sat around and relaxed.
Birds of interest for the area included nesting Crowned Eagle, two Lesser Honeyguide following a Cardinal Woodpecker probably trying to locate its nest, brilliant views of Knysna Warbler about a metre from where we were crouched, hearing a Knysna Woodpecker then seeing the bird fly past, about eight African Dusky Flycatcher and a displaying male Denham’s Bustard.

After dinner we tried to see African Wood Owl but only managed to hear three birds, some very close, and a Western Barn Owl.

Wednesday 17th September: De Hoop Nature Reserve
Patrick and I spent three hours birding in the morning around the farm house and had views of Olive Bushshrike and Southern Boubou plus heard Red-chested Cuckoo (Piet-my-vrou) which must have just arrived in the area.

We then took a drive to Bontebok National Park entrance area where we had good game viewing and saw Plain-backed Pipit. Between Swellendam and De Hoop we saw our only Agulhas Long-billed Lark of the trip, and our last lark needed for the trip.
Arrived at De Hoop Nature Reserve at midday and checked into our lovely accommodation. There were many places we stayed on during our trip which we would like to have stayed for a lot longer, and this was one of them.

Birding around the accommodation area in the afternoon produced just under 50 bird species, with nice views of Southern Tchagra and Spotted Thick-knee. We heard the contact call of Knysna Woodpecker but were not able to locate the bird despite some extensive searching.
Had a great braai in the evening.

Thursday 18th September: Rooi Els
Some early morning birding at De Hoop Nature Reserve, looking for the elusive Knysna Woodpecker, with the bird being heard five times and an unsatisfactory sighting of the bird flying between bushes across the path, in poor light conditions.

We then drove through to Betty’s Bay where we encountered quite a bit of rain, the only rain for the trip. Patrick and I took a short walk between rain squalls and had great views of two Cape Rockjumper. This is a bird which is becoming increasingly difficult to locate and at this site the success rate is only 40%. Patrick then followed this up with excellent views of the gorgeous little Victorin’s Warbler.
After checking into our lovely Bed and Breakfast in Rooi Els, Patrick and I took a drive to Bot River Lagoon, where Patrick has arranged for access to a private farm overlooking the Bot River Lagoon. It was not raining steadily with quite strong icy winds. Patrick and I proceeded to walk in a grid pattern across the low fynbos in an attempt to flush out Hottentot Buttonquail. Given the appalling weather, it’s not surprising that the quail kept its head down and we had no luck in finding it. After an hour of getting soaked, we gave up and headed back to our accommodation. This was our only dip of the trip and had we had better weather, there was a good chance of seeing the bird. As Patrick said, two out of three birds for the day was pretty good, considering that all three birds can be difficult to locate.

Dinner at a lovely seafood restaurant in Betty’s Bay and overnight at Rooi Els.
Friday 19th September: Simon’s Town
Today we took the drive around False Bay and stopped off at Strandfontein Sewage Works. For the short one hour visit we saw just over 50 birds, including a Spotted Eagle Owl roosting in thick bush. Patrick then spotted the Franklin’s Gull where I had asked to stop at one of the ponds and then produced a Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk on the other side of the car. The Franklin’s Gull is an American gull which is a vagrant to South Africa and had been seen on and off at Strandfontein for a couple of months prior to our trip. I had only seen the Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk in Kenya previously, so nice to see it in South Africa, where it is reasonably common around the suburbs of Cape Town. 

We arrived back in Simon’s Town just before lunch and had the Shearwater Apartment this time, the apartment with the grand views of False Bay. Took the car for a major car wash and had all our laundry done in the afternoon, before having a final meal with Patrick in the evening.
So overall an excellent tour with Patrick, who shared his knowledge and love for the flora and fauna of the Cape with us.

Saturday 20th September: Edenvale
After saying our farewells to Patrick and Marie-Louise, we headed off to Fish Hoek for a haircut for myself, before driving to the airport. Flew up to Johannesburg on BA and spent the evening at the lovely Dunvegan Execu Lodge in Edenvale after being collected at the airport by Monika Isaacs.

Madagascar from 21st September to 9th October - see separate blog

Northern Transvaal / Limpopo
Friday 10th October: Soutpansberg

After breakfast at our excellent accommodation at Pheasant Hill in Irene near Pretoria, we drove to Louis Trichardt (Makhado) in the Soutpansberg, arriving about midday. The road from Johannesburg airport to Irene and then further northwards is mostly a toll road and is in excellent condition. 
We had three nights at Mount Azimbo Lodge, about 10km north of Louis Trichardt and had booked their spacious two bedroomed chalet for the visit. Unfortunately there was a double booking so on the second night we had to stay in a small single room and then move back to our chalet the following day. Not the greatest of arrangements but the hosts offered us the second night free.

Met up with Samson Mulaudzi and did a short trip to Hanglip Forest in the afternoon. Some interesting birds seen included Lemon Dove, Tambourine Dove, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Chorister Robin-chat and White-starred Robin.
Saturday 11th October: Soutpansberg

Met up with Samson in the morning and drove to the Gundani Miombo woodlands, this being a relict patch of Miombo woodland in the remote hills of Venda, and is a habitat found in Zimbabwe and further north. It had been raining in the morning however by the time we arrived the rain had stopped and it was still misty with light drizzle, which cleared later in the morning.
The birding was excellent in the woodland and we quickly located Pink-throated Twinspot and saw about eight for the morning.  Closer to the river we saw about twelve Green Twinspot which was quite amazing. Other nice birds included Retz’s Helmetshrike, Bearded Scrub Robin, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird and many Klaas’s Cuckoo. No Blue-spotted Wood Dove or Southern Hyliota were seen and these do occur in the Miombo woodland.

In the afternoon we visited the Thohoyandou Botanic Gardens which we discovered was closed because of the weekend, seems strange to close a botanic gardens on the weekend. Samson did some smooth talking and persuaded the guards to let us in, with a tip which helped too. In the botanic gardens, which are not conventional gardens but a protected tract of woodlands and bush, we heard two Blue-spotted Wood Dove but couldn’t get onto them. Other nice birds included Orange-breasted Bushshrike, Lesser Honeyguide, Red-capped Robin-chat and Red-faced Cisticola.
Overnight at Mount Azimbo Lodge.

Sunday 12th October: Soutpansberg
I had an early morning start with Samson but had problems opening the security gate at the lodge in the morning, so a bit delayed. Met up with Samson and arrived at the Entabeni Forest just after 7am. Here Samson quickly found two African Broadbill which were doing their display flight, with the white back feathers puffed up, very impressive. In the same area we had good views of Olive Bushshrike, Knysna Turaco and Purple-crested Turaco.

We then drove to an area of open woodland and had lovely views of two Narina Trogon plus Scaly-throated Honeyguide. The next stop was up the hill in a stand of eucalypt trees where Samson located a roosting Bat Hawk, this being a bird that has eluded me for a long time, both in South Africa and Kenya.
At a nearby stream we found Red-backed Mannikin and Holub’s Golden Weaver. At another site with a small dam and overhanging vegetation, we failed to find any White-backed Night-heron which are known to roost there.

We moved onto a private site on the Luvuhu River and whilst we saw some nice birds we failed to find any White-backed Night-heron. Our last site for the day was the Muirhead Dam on a private farm, where we had good views of White-backed Duck, African Pygmy Goose and a Crowned Eagle flying over.
Overnight at Mount Azimbo Lodge.

Monday 13th October: Mapungubwe National Park
Managed to get an early morning emergency appointment at a local dentist in Makhado to refit a crown that had broken off the previous day. Lovely staff and great service at Dr Michiel Roos Dentistry, for a fraction of the cost of a dentist in Australia.

After buying groceries we headed north to Messina (Musina) into Baobab country. The town of Messina has decayed from what it once was and is best avoided, except to get fuel and other supplies, on the way through.  

Arrived at Mapungubwe National Park at 2pm, which is a new national park to the west of Messina located on the Limpopo River, the border between South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Our first two nights were at the Limpopo Forest Tented Camp and the next two nights at the Leokwe Camp.
The tented accommodation at Limpopo Forest was very spacious and well equipped, being on a raised wooded platform under a huge fig tree, with large kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, certainly one of the most luxurious tented camps we have stayed in. There were only about six tented camps which were well spread out and there were a few other visitors at the camp, including some other birders.

There was a swimming pool surrounded by electrified fencing to keep the elephants out and there were Bushbuck in the camp area plus many birds. Some of the interesting birds seen during the afternoon were Martial Eagle, Lilac-breasted Roller, Common Scimitarbill, Arrow-marked Babbler, Meves’s Starling, Holub’s Golden Weaver and Hamerkop nesting outside our tent.
Tuesday 14th October: Mapungubwe National Park
Took a morning drive along the Limpopo River and through the park, seeing about 60 birds and quite a few game species. Many of the roads in the national park are limited to 4WD. The Limpopo Forest camp is on the western side of the national park and access is via a sealed road outside of the park. This area of the park is thus quite separate from the rest of the reserve and has very little traffic.  

Highlights for the morning included Saddle-billed Stork, three Pearl-spotted Owlet, Broad-billed Roller, Retz’s Helmetshrike and Southern Pied Babbler.
In the afternoon we relaxed at the camp and some of the highlights included nesting White-backed Vulture, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Red-billed Buffalo Weaver, Bearded Woodpecker and in the evening Western Barn Owl seen outside our tent and about four African Scops Owl calling in the campsite.

Wednesday 15th October: Mapungubwe National Park
Took a morning drive to the Limpopo River and saw close to 70 birds, with highlights being many White-fronted Bee-eater plus European Bee-eater, Tropical Boubou, Black Cuckooshrike, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Lanner Falcon and African Harrier-hawk.

After packing up we drove on the sealed road outside the national park up to the main entrance. Along the drive we had a great views of Black-chested Snake-eagle, a pair of Black Stork at a nesting site on a rocky outcrop, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Red-headed Weaver and Black-faced Waxbill.
The accommodation at Leokwe Camp was again spacious and well equipped, and the camp was nicely situated in amongst the sandstone hills. The swimming pool was built in between huge boulders and had a deck offering good views of the creek and hills, good for birding and relaxing.

Leokwe Camp
The accommodation at the two camps we stayed in Mapungubwe was far superior to the Kruger National Park accommodation, and the cost was slightly less than the standard rondavel accommodation in Kruger, so offered good value for money. In addition, we had the park more or less to ourselves, with good game and bird viewing. Being in far northern South Africa, this national park has good opportunities for seeing some of the rarer birds.

Birding around the camp in the afternoon produced Mocking Cliff Chat, a pair of African Hawk-eagle roosting in a large Baobab tree, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Yellow-throated Petronia and Freckled Nightjar calling just after sunset.
Thursday 16th October: Mapungubwe National Park
We arrived at the Treetop Walk at 6am and this is a top birding spot for the park. Had a huge herd of elephant crossing the river into Botswana and saw some great birds including two Greater Painted Snipe, Ruff, Wood Sandpiper, African Green Pigeon, Broad-billed Roller, Meyer’s Parrot and Bennet’s Woodpecker.
Confluence with Limpopo River in foreground and dry Shashe River
We then drove to the Confluence Viewpoint, which has great views over the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, with Botswana to the west and Zimbabwe to the East. This used to be a military camp and the old campsite, ammo depot and rock etchings are still in evidence. Had some Mocking Cliff Chat around the parking area with the birds sheltering in the car’s shade.

Mocking Cliff Chat
With the large boulders in the area, the habitat would seem to be suitable for Boulder Chat, with the Roberts VII range map showing the distribution just extending into South Africa at the Confluence. Apparently Boulder Chat has been seen in this area according to the official website for Mapungubwe although SABAP2 doesn’t show any sightings for the area. 
In the afternoon we had a bit of excitement with a snake trapped in our braai area, which the local staff thought was a Black Mamba, but I didn’t think so, as it was striped. I wasn’t going to test out my theory and eventually we had a snake expert who caught the snake and identified it as a mildly venomous Leopard Grass Snake or Short-snouted Grass Snake.

Leopard Grass Snake (Psammophis brevirostris)
Relaxing at the camp in the afternoon produced some nice birds including Black-crowned Tchagra, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Pale Flycatcher and in the evening Western Barn Owl and Freckled Nightjar calling. Just before sunset I heard, then saw two Striped Pipit, calling from the rocky sandstone area, which is their preferred habitat. I had been looking for these Pipit for the past few days, so good to find them. Quite an attractive Pipit with yellow edges to its folded wings and bold streaking on the breast, with a nice melodious call. 

17th to 24th October: Kruger National Park
We visited the Treetop Walk early in the morning and had an immature Martial Eagle on the river sandbanks and a Pearl-spotted Owlet perched close to the car as we arrived.

We packed up and drove to Messina to buy groceries and then onto Pafuri in the Kruger National Park. The road was good except for a bridge that had been completely washed in floods away a number of years ago, and no evidence of any activity to replace the bridge. So if there are rains, the rudimentary bypass through the dry river bed would be impassable. Maybe it’s in the 20 year plan to eventually replace the bridge to one of the largest tourist attractions in South Africa!!
We had booked various camps in the Kruger National Park for the next eight nights, staying at Punda Maria, Shingwedzi, Letaba, Satara and Pretoriuskop. Kruger was quite dry, except in the far south, and wasn’t at its best. We did have good birding and mammal viewing along the way but generally the Impala, Zebra, Wildebeest and even vulture numbers were far less than we have seen before.

Elephant crossing at Satara River
As regards mammals, we saw Cape Clawless Otter at Lower Sabie and Honey Badger at Satara camp which were probably our best mammal sightings for Kruger and also saw quite a few Rhino close to Lower Sabie. Had a couple of Leopard on a night drive from Letaba Camp and three Lion at a kill near Shingwedzi.

Southern Ground-hornbill - vulnerable and decline in numbers
Birding highlights and some which were new for us at Kruger, were Horus Swift at Punda Maria, African Finfoot at Shingwedzi, nine Greater Painted Snipe in the Letaba area, White-backed Night-heron at Letaba, Squacco Heron, Steppe Eagle, Yellow-billed Oxpecker, Black-faced Waxbill, Flappet Lark, Yellow-throated Longclaw, a very pale Burnt-necked Eremomela, Grey Tit-flycatcher at Satara and Grey-backed Camaroptera. 

We have seen 297 birds in Kruger now, with 23 birds added for this trip, which is a good number of birds for the park for an international visitor.

The Kruger camps were well maintained, the staff friendly and very courteous. Many of the older huts are being replaced with very nice modern accommodation, whilst still keeping many of the Kruger traditions.
Many international visitors use the private parks abutting the western side of Kruger but these are usually very expensive and we didn’t see any justification for the extra expense, given that we have spent a lot of time in many game reserves in Southern Africa.

Whilst the Kruger didn’t meet our high expectations on this visit, we did enjoy the park and it’s always a rewarding and relaxing place to visit.
25th to 28th October: Mkuze
We left Pretoriuskop early in the morning for the drive to Mkuze, skirting around Swaziland. The roads between Kruger and Nelspruit were under construction and there were many detours and diversions, so slow going. To the west of Swaziland we hit heavy mist which slowed us down as well.

We spent the next four days with Debbie and Pierre in their house in Mkuze. Debbie used to nurse with Yvonne at Addington Hospital, so a long-time friend who has kept in contact over the years.
Had a great time with Pierre and Debbie and explored the area, including a visit to their new house under construction on the Pongola River up north near Tembe. The fishing on the Pongola River is reputed to be excellent and it’s within 5 minutes’ walk from the house.

We spent time on Pongolapoort Dam with a lovely cruise the one day, tracking the local elephant herd from the boat. Debbie also took us to Mkuze Game Reserve for the day where we saw some good birds, especially when the flying ants started to leave their nests, attracting a whole host of nice birds.

Green-winged Pytilia
Some of the birding highlights at Mkuze Game Reserve were Crested Guineafowl, Kori Bustard, Jacobin Cuckoo, Pink-throated Twinspot, Green-winged Pytilia, Purple-banded Sunbird, Rudd’s Apalis, African Pygmy Kingfisher and an European Honey Buzzard flying overhead about 5m above us as we were walking out of a game hide.  We also had great views of three Southern White Rhino, Red Duiker and Bush Duiker.

Southern White Rhino
Pierre is also a professional hunter in his spare time and has a good supply of various venison. The one evening we had a young freshly killed Impala which was delicious.

Wednesday 29th October: Mbabane
After saying goodbye to Debbie and Pierre we headed off to the nearby Swaziland border post at Golela. Not sure what to expect we were surprised to find a very modern border post and it probably only took us 20 minutes to get though the South Africa and Swaziland border posts. No queues of traffic or travellers and no hassles getting out passports stamped and a clearance to take the rental car though to Swaziland.

The road running north to the Big Bend in Swaziland was wide, well maintained and had very little traffic, certainly a lot better than many of the roads in South Africa. We stopped for morning tea at Nisela Safari Lodge in the Nisela Nature Reserve and had a look at the Swazi beehive huts, where one can spend the night for the princely sum of R137.50 pppn. Swaziland has its own currency which is on a par with the SA Rand, however Rands are acceptable currency anywhere in Swaziland.

Swazi beehive huts
We continued on to Manzini and then Mbabane stopping off at a local restaurant for lunch. After lunch we checked into Silverstone Falls, our accommodation alongside a river on the northern outskirts of Mbabane. This was one of the top places we stayed at on our trip, very upmarket, immaculate and spacious accommodation with views from the veranda overlooking the Silverstone falls. The staff were very friendly and we had some excellent meals at our residence. 
Silverstone Falls
This was our first visit to Swaziland and we were impressed with the country and its people, particularly after we got raised eyebrows every time we said we were visiting Swaziland.

Thursday 30th October: Mbabane
We drove off early in the morning to Malolotja Nature Reserve to try and find the Blue Swallow, our reason for visiting Swaziland. It’s a lovely reserve up in the hills towards Piggs Peak and we stopped at the picnic site which was the site for the Blue Swallow. Had lots of Buff-streaked Chat on the boulders and other nice birds but nothing resembling a Blue Swallow.

Buff-streaked Chat
I went off walking up the hills while Yvonne stayed at the picnic site. When I got back, Yvonne says, “Have you seen the Blue Swallow?” Well no I hadn’t but she had seen one swallow which looked very metallic in the small valley near to the picnic area. I took a walk there and eventually found four birds flying up and down the creek line, which is one of their traits. The area also had quite a few sinkholes which they use for nesting.

The birds are glossy metallic blue in colour as compared to the matt black of the Black Saw-wing which were also in the area. I could see the very long tail streamers from two birds flying close by but these were difficult to see when the birds were further away and only the males have the streamers. Given their rarity these days, this was the mega bird of the trip.
We also had good views of a Secretarybird close to the road.  After lunch at the nature reserve restaurant we headed back to our accommodation to relax for the afternoon.

Birding at Silverstone Falls was also rewarding with Purple-crested Turaco, Southern Boubou, Chorister Robin-chat, African Pygmy Kingfisher, African Dusky Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher, Southern Black Tit, Southern Black Flycatcher, Amethyst Sunbird, Black Saw-wing, Olive Sunbird, Swee Waxbill and African Firefinch all seen from the veranda of our accommodation.
For the short trip to Swaziland I ended up with a list of 68 birds which was pleasing.

Friday 31st October: Wakkerstroom
We hit very heavy mist when we left in the morning, however once this lifted, we quickly cleared customs at the border post to the west of Mbabane and drove through to Wakkerstroom.

We checked into our accommodation at Wetlands Country House and I went off birding in the afternoon, slap bang into a huge storm. It looked like a dust storm approaching over the hills and there was lots of lightning, very heavy rain and huge hail stones. I sat out the storm and then went back to the accommodation.  I arrived back to see our room being evacuated and informed that we were moving to alternative accommodation, as the room we were in leaked like a sieve. The owner of the property tried to tell Yvonne that a few drops of water were fine and that we should stay in the room. Yvonne then said we were going somewhere else and he relented and offered this huge house as an alternative.
We decided to pack up and leave the following morning instead of staying two nights as originally planned.

Saturday 1st November: Edenvale
I did some early morning birding around Wakkerstroom before breakfast and couldn’t find the Yellow-breasted Pipit I was after, although did see some nice birds such as Grey-crowned Crane and six African Snipe in the wetlands. There was a gathering of local birders on the bridge at the wetlands in the morning and they got excited/annoyed at seeing their first European Starling in the area.

Went back for breakfast and had a chat to a professional guide who was leading a tour, and he said that they had a brief sighting on Yellow-breasted Pipit doing its display flight close to where I had been looking. After packing up we went back up into the hills and I eventually had reasonable views of two Yellow-breasted Pipit in the long grass showing their buffy yellow throats, plus one bird doing a display flight quite high up, with floppy wing beats then dropping down vertically into the grass. There were also displaying Red-capped Lark and African Pipit in the area.
At midday we left and drove through to Ermelo for lunch at the local Steers restaurant. Got in contact with Monika Isaacs and organised a room for the night at Edenvale Execu Lodge.

Sunday 2nd November: Return to Australia
Had the car washed and spent the morning shopping at East Rand Mall, before packing our bags and headed to the airport. Don’t remember too much of the flight back to Sydney and slept pretty well after a long trip. Arrived back into Melbourne at 6pm on Monday 3rd November.  


References and Resources
  • Essential Birding - Western South Africa by Callan Cohen and Claire Spottiswoode, first edition 2000
  • Southern African Birdfinder by Callan Cohen, Claire Spottiswoode and Jonathan Rossouw, first edition 2006
  • Roberts VII Birds of Southern Africa iPhone App version 2 designed by Guy Gibbon
  • SASOL Birds of Southern Africa iPhone App
  • Newman’s Birds of Southern Africa by Ken Newman and revised by Vanessa Newman, commemorative edition 2010
  • Mammals of Southern Africa, pocket guide by Chris and Mathilde Stuart
Of the field guides, Roberts VII was by far the best field guide, with the best illustrations, bird calls, photos and the latest distribution maps based on SABAP2. In addition this field guide has a lot of detail on the birds habitats, has colour coded distribution maps which show seasonal variation, plus shows the distribution and provides a description of all the subspecies, which I like to record on my Wildlife Recorder birding data base. 

Mammals
We saw a total of 57 mammals during our trip to South Africa:

Hyracoidea

Hyraxes (Procaviidae)

Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax [sp] (Heterohyrax brucei)

Rock Hyrax [sp] (Procavia capensis)

Proboscidea

Elephants (Elephantidae)

African Bush Elephant (Loxodonta africana)

Primates

Galagos (Galagidae)

Moholi Bushbaby (Galago moholi)

Old World Monkeys (Cercopithecidae)

Vervet Monkey [sp] (Chlorocebus pygerythrus)

Chacma Baboon [sp] (Papio ursinus)

Rodentia

Squirrels & Marmots (Sciuridae)

Eastern Grey Squirrel [sp] (Sciurus carolinensis)

South African Ground Squirrel (Xerus inauris)

Smith's Bush Squirrel [sp] (Paraxerus cepapi)

Old World mice and rats, gerbils, whistling rats, and relatives (Muridae)

Xeric Four-striped Grass Rat (Rhabdomys pumilio)

Brants's Whistling Rat (Parotomys brantsii)

Springhares (Pedetidae)

South African Spring Hare (Pedetes capensis)

Old World Porcupines (Hystricidae)

Cape Porcupine [sp] (Hystrix africaeaustralis)

Lagomorpha

Rabbits and Hares (Leporidae)

Scrub Hare [sp] (Lepus saxatilis)

Smith's Red Rock Hare [sp] (Pronolagus rupestris)

Chiroptera

Free-tailed Bats (Molossidae)

Roberts's Flat-headed Bat [sp] (Sauromys petrophilus)

Carnivora

Cats (Felidae)

Lion [sp] (Panthera leo)

Leopard [sp] (Panthera pardus)

Mongooses (Herpestidae)

Yellow Mongoose [sp] (Cynictis penicillata)

Cape Grey Mongoose [sp] (Galerella pulverulenta)

Slender Mongoose [sp] (Galerella sanguinea)

Common Dwarf Mongoose [sp] (Helogale parvula)

Banded Mongoose [sp] (Mungos mungo)

Meerkat [sp] (Suricata suricatta)

Hyaenas (Hyaenidae)

Spotted Hyena (Crocuta crocuta)

Dogs (Canidae)

Black-backed Jackal [sp] (Canis mesomelas)

Bat-eared Fox [sp] (Otocyon megalotis)

Eared Seals (Otariidae)

Brown Fur Seal [sp] (Arctocephalus pusillus)

Mustelids (Mustelidae)

African Clawless Otter [sp] (Aonyx capensis)

Honey Badger [sp] (Mellivora capensis)

Perissodactyla

Horses (Equidae)

Burchell's Zebra [sp] (Equus burchellii)

Mountain Zebra [sp] (Equus zebra)

Rhinoceroses (Rhinocerotidae)

White Rhinoceros [sp] (Ceratotherium simum)

Artiodactyla

Pigs (Suidae)

Common Warthog [sp] (Phacochoerus africanus)

Hippopotamuses (Hippopotamidae)

Common Hippopotamus [sp] (Hippopotamus amphibius)

Giraffes & Okapi (Giraffidae)

Giraffe [sp] (Giraffa camelopardalis)

Cattle & Spiral-horned Antelope (Bovidae)

Impala [sp] (Aepyceros melampus)

Blue Wildebeest [sp] (Connochaetes taurinus)

Common Tsessebe (Damaliscus lunatus)

Bontebok [sp] (Damaliscus pygargus)

Springbok [sp] (Antidorcas marsupialis)

Klipspringer [sp] (Oreotragus oreotragus)

Steenbok [sp] (Raphicerus campestris)

Sharpe's Grysbok (Raphicerus sharpei)

African Buffalo [sp] (Syncerus caffer)

Common Eland [sp] (Taurotragus oryx)

Nyala (Tragelaphus angasii)

Bushbuck [sp] (Tragelaphus scriptus)

Greater Kudu [sp] (Tragelaphus strepsiceros)

Red Duiker [sp] (Cephalophus natalensis)

Bush Duiker [sp] (Sylvicapra grimmia)

Gemsbok (Oryx gazella)

Waterbuck [sp] (Kobus ellipsiprymnus)

Vaal Rhebok (Pelea capreolus)

Southern Reedbuck (Redunca arundinum)

Cetacea

Right Whales (Balaenidae)

Southern Right Whale (Eubalaena australis)

Rorqual Whales (Balaenopteridae)

Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)


Birds
For the trip we saw a total of 471 birds of which 50 were new birds for my South African list and 30 were lifers. The list of birds, according to IOC taxonomy, was as follows:

STRUTHIONIFORMES

Ostriches (Struthionidae)

Common Ostrich [sp] (Struthio camelus)

ANSERIFORMES

Ducks, Geese & swans (Anatidae)

White-faced Whistling Duck (Dendrocygna viduata)

White-backed Duck [sp] (Thalassornis leuconotus)

Spur-winged Goose [sp] (Plectropterus gambensis)

Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)

South African Shelduck (Tadorna cana)

African Pygmy Goose (Nettapus auritus)

Cape Teal (Anas capensis)

African Black Duck [sp] (Anas sparsa)

Mallard [sp] (Anas platyrhynchos)

Yellow-billed Duck [sp] (Anas undulata)

Cape Shoveler (Anas smithii)

Red-billed Teal (Anas erythrorhyncha)

Hottentot Teal (Anas hottentota)

Southern Pochard [sp] (Netta erythrophthalma)

Maccoa Duck (Oxyura maccoa)

GALLIFORMES

Guineafowl (Numididae)

Helmeted Guineafowl [sp] (Numida meleagris)

Crested Guineafowl [sp] (Guttera pucherani)

Pheasants, Fowl & Allies (Phasianidae)

Chukar Partridge [sp] (Alectoris chukar)

Grey-winged Francolin (Scleroptila afra)

Crested Francolin [sp] (Dendroperdix sephaena)

Cape Spurfowl (Pternistis capensis)

Natal Spurfowl [sp] (Pternistis natalensis)

Swainson's Spurfowl [sp] (Pternistis swainsonii)

Common Quail [sp] (Coturnix coturnix)

Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)

SPHENISCIFORMES

Penguins (Spheniscidae)

African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus)

PROCELLARIIFORMES

Albatrosses (Diomedeidae)

Shy Albatross [sp] (Thalassarche cauta)

Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross (Thalassarche carteri)

Petrels, Shearwaters (Procellariidae)

White-chinned Petrel (Procellaria aequinoctialis)

Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus)

Podicipediformes

Grebes (Podicipedidae)

Little Grebe [sp] (Tachybaptus ruficollis)

Great Crested Grebe [sp] (Podiceps cristatus)

Black-necked Grebe [sp] (Podiceps nigricollis)

PHOENICOPTERIFORMES

Flamingos (Phoenicopteridae)

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)

Lesser Flamingo (Phoeniconaias minor)

Ciconiiformes

Storks (Ciconiidae)

Yellow-billed Stork (Mycteria ibis)

African Openbill [sp] (Anastomus lamelligerus)

Black Stork (Ciconia nigra)

Woolly-necked Stork [sp] (Ciconia episcopus)

Saddle-billed Stork (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis)

Marabou Stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer)

PELECANIFORMES

Ibises, Spoonbills (Threskiornithidae)

African Sacred Ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus)

Southern Bald Ibis (Geronticus calvus)

Hadada Ibis [sp] (Bostrychia hagedash)

Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)

African Spoonbill (Platalea alba)

Herons, Bitterns (Ardeidae)

White-backed Night Heron (Gorsachius leuconotus)

Black-crowned Night Heron [sp] (Nycticorax nycticorax)

Striated Heron [sp] (Butorides striata)

Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Grey Heron [sp] (Ardea cinerea)

Black-headed Heron (Ardea melanocephala)

Goliath Heron (Ardea goliath)

Purple Heron [sp] (Ardea purpurea)

Great Egret [sp] (Ardea alba)

Intermediate Egret [sp] (Egretta intermedia)

Little Egret [sp] (Egretta garzetta)

Hamerkop (Scopidae)

Hamerkop [sp] (Scopus umbretta)

Pelicans (Pelecanidae)

Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus)

Suliformes

Gannets, Boobies (Sulidae)

Cape Gannet (Morus capensis)

Cormorants, Shags (Phalacrocoracidae)

Reed Cormorant [sp] (Microcarbo africanus)

Crowned Cormorant (Microcarbo coronatus)

Bank Cormorant (Phalacrocorax neglectus)

White-breasted Cormorant (Phalacrocorax lucidus)

Cape Cormorant (Phalacrocorax capensis)

Anhingas, Darters (Anhingidae)

African Darter [sp] (Anhinga rufa)

ACCIPITRIFORMES

Secretarybird (Sagittariidae)

Secretarybird (Sagittarius serpentarius)

Ospreys (Pandionidae)

Western Osprey [sp] (Pandion haliaetus)

Kites, Hawks & Eagles (Accipitridae)

Black-winged Kite [sp] (Elanus caeruleus)

African Harrier-hawk [sp] (Polyboroides typus)

European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)

Hooded Vulture (Necrosyrtes monachus)

White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus)

Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres)

White-headed Vulture (Trigonoceps occipitalis)

Lappet-faced Vulture [sp] (Torgos tracheliotos)

Black-chested Snake Eagle (Circaetus pectoralis)

Brown Snake Eagle (Circaetus cinereus)

Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus)

Bat Hawk [sp] (Macheiramphus alcinus)

Crowned Eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus)

Martial Eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus)

Long-crested Eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis)

Lesser Spotted Eagle (Clanga pomarina)

Wahlberg's Eagle (Hieraaetus wahlbergi)

Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus)

Tawny Eagle [sp] (Aquila rapax)

Steppe Eagle [sp] (Aquila nipalensis)

Verreaux's Eagle (Aquila verreauxii)

African Hawk-eagle (Aquila spilogaster)

Dark Chanting Goshawk [sp] (Melierax metabates)

Pale Chanting Goshawk [sp] (Melierax canorus)

African Goshawk [sp] (Accipiter tachiro)

Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter rufiventris)

Black Sparrowhawk [sp] (Accipiter melanoleucus)

African Marsh Harrier (Circus ranivorus)

Black Harrier (Circus maurus)

Yellow-billed Kite [sp] (Milvus aegyptius)

African Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vocifer)

Common Buzzard [sp] (Buteo buteo)

Jackal Buzzard (Buteo rufofuscus)

OTIDIFORMES

Bustards (Otididae)

Kori Bustard [sp] (Ardeotis kori)

Ludwig's Bustard (Neotis ludwigii)

Denham's Bustard [sp] (Neotis denhami)

Karoo Korhaan [sp] (Eupodotis vigorsii)

Red-crested Korhaan (Lophotis ruficrista)

Southern Black Korhaan (Afrotis afra)

Northern Black Korhaan [sp] (Afrotis afraoides)

Black-bellied Bustard [sp] (Lissotis melanogaster)

GRUIFORMES

Finfoots (Heliornithidae)

African Finfoot [sp] (Podica senegalensis)

Rails, Crakes & Coots (Rallidae)

African Rail (Rallus caerulescens)

Black Crake (Amaurornis flavirostra)

African Swamphen (Porphyrio madagascariensis)

Common Moorhen [sp] (Gallinula chloropus)

Red-knobbed Coot (Fulica cristata)

Cranes (Gruidae)

Grey Crowned Crane [sp] (Balearica regulorum)

Blue Crane (Grus paradisea)

CHARADRIIFORMES

Stone-curlews, Thick-knees (Burhinidae)

Water Thick-knee [sp] (Burhinus vermiculatus)

Spotted Thick-knee [sp] (Burhinus capensis)

Oystercatchers (Haematopodidae)

African Oystercatcher (Haematopus moquini)

Stilts, Avocets (Recurvirostridae)

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

Plovers (Charadriidae)

Blacksmith Lapwing (Vanellus armatus)

White-crowned Lapwing (Vanellus albiceps)

Crowned Lapwing [sp] (Vanellus coronatus)

African Wattled Lapwing [sp] (Vanellus senegallus)

Grey Plover [sp] (Pluvialis squatarola)

Kittlitz's Plover (Charadrius pecuarius)

Three-banded Plover [sp] (Charadrius tricollaris)

White-fronted Plover [sp] (Charadrius marginatus)

Chestnut-banded Plover [sp] (Charadrius pallidus)

Painted Snipes (Rostratulidae)

Greater Painted-snipe (Rostratula benghalensis)

Jacanas (Jacanidae)

African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus)

Sandpipers, Snipes (Scolopacidae)

African Snipe [sp] (Gallinago nigripennis)

Whimbrel [sp] (Numenius phaeopus)

Eurasian Curlew [sp] (Numenius arquata)

Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis)

Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)

Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Ruddy Turnstone [sp] (Arenaria interpres)

Sanderling [sp] (Calidris alba)

Little Stint (Calidris minuta)

Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)

Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)

Coursers, Pratincoles (Glareolidae)

Double-banded Courser [sp] (Rhinoptilus africanus)

Gulls, Terns & Skimmers (Laridae)

Grey-headed Gull [sp] (Chroicocephalus cirrocephalus)

Hartlaub's Gull (Chroicocephalus hartlaubii)

Franklin's Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

Kelp Gull [sp] (Larus dominicanus)

Caspian Tern (Hydroprogne caspia)

Greater Crested Tern [sp] (Thalasseus bergii)

Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)

Common Tern [sp] (Sterna hirundo)

Antarctic Tern [sp] (Sterna vittata)

Skuas and Jaegers (Stercorariidae)

Brown Skua [sp] (Stercorarius antarcticus)

PTEROCLIFORMES

Sandgrouse (Pteroclidae)

Namaqua Sandgrouse (Pterocles namaqua)

COLUMBIFORMES

Doves and Pigeons (Columbidae)

Rock Dove [sp] (Columba livia)

Speckled Pigeon [sp] (Columba guinea)

African Olive Pigeon (Columba arquatrix)

Lemon Dove [sp] (Columba larvata)

Mourning Collared Dove [sp] (Streptopelia decipiens)

Red-eyed Dove (Streptopelia semitorquata)

Ring-necked Dove [sp] (Streptopelia capicola)

Laughing Dove [sp] (Spilopelia senegalensis)

Emerald-spotted Wood Dove (Turtur chalcospilos)

Blue-spotted Wood Dove (Turtur afer)

Tambourine Dove (Turtur tympanistria)

Namaqua Dove [sp] (Oena capensis)

African Green Pigeon [sp] (Treron calvus)

MUSOPHAGIFORMES

Turacos (Musophagidae)

Knysna Turaco [sp] (Tauraco corythaix)

Purple-crested Turaco [sp] (Tauraco porphyreolophus)

Grey Go-away-bird [sp] (Corythaixoides concolor)

CUCULIFORMES

Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Burchell's Coucal [sp] (Centropus burchellii)

Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius)

Levaillant's Cuckoo (Clamator levaillantii)

Jacobin Cuckoo [sp] (Clamator jacobinus)

Diederik Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx caprius)

Klaas's Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx klaas)

Red-chested Cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius)

African Cuckoo (Cuculus gularis)

STRIGIFORMES

Barn Owls (Tytonidae)

Western Barn Owl [sp] (Tyto alba)

Owls (Strigidae)

African Scops Owl [sp] (Otus senegalensis)

Spotted Eagle-owl [sp] (Bubo africanus)

African Wood Owl [sp] (Strix woodfordii)

Pearl-spotted Owlet [sp] (Glaucidium perlatum)

CAPRIMULGIFORMES

Nightjars (Caprimulgidae)

Fiery-necked Nightjar [sp] (Caprimulgus pectoralis)

Freckled Nightjar [sp] (Caprimulgus tristigma)

Square-tailed Nightjar [sp] (Caprimulgus fossii)

Apodiformes

Swifts (Apodidae)

African Palm Swift [sp] (Cypsiurus parvus)

Alpine Swift [sp] (Tachymarptis melba)

African Black Swift [sp] (Apus barbatus)

Bradfield's Swift [sp] (Apus bradfieldi)

Little Swift [sp] (Apus affinis)

Horus Swift [sp] (Apus horus)

White-rumped Swift (Apus caffer)

COLIIFORMES

Mousebirds (Coliidae)

Speckled Mousebird [sp] (Colius striatus)

White-backed Mousebird [sp] (Colius colius)

Red-faced Mousebird [sp] (Urocolius indicus)

TROGONIFORMES

Trogons and Quetzals (Trogonidae)

Narina Trogon [sp] (Apaloderma narina)

CORACIIFORMES

Rollers (Coraciidae)

Purple Roller [sp] (Coracias naevius)

Lilac-breasted Roller [sp] (Coracias caudatus)

Broad-billed Roller [sp] (Eurystomus glaucurus)

Kingfishers (Alcedinidae)

Brown-hooded Kingfisher [sp] (Halcyon albiventris)

African Pygmy Kingfisher [sp] (Ispidina picta)

Malachite Kingfisher [sp] (Corythornis cristatus)

Giant Kingfisher [sp] (Megaceryle maxima)

Pied Kingfisher [sp] (Ceryle rudis)

Bee-eaters (Meropidae)

Swallow-tailed Bee-eater [sp] (Merops hirundineus)

Little Bee-eater [sp] (Merops pusillus)

White-fronted Bee-eater (Merops bullockoides)

European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster)

Southern Carmine Bee-eater (Merops nubicoides)

BUCEROTIFORMES

Hoopoes (Upupidae)

African Hoopoe (Upupa africana)

Woodhoopoes (Phoeniculidae)

Green Wood Hoopoe [sp] (Phoeniculus purpureus)

Common Scimitarbill [sp] (Rhinopomastus cyanomelas)

Hornbills (Bucerotidae)

Crowned Hornbill [sp] (Tockus alboterminatus)

African Grey Hornbill [sp] (Tockus nasutus)

Southern Red-billed Hornbill (Tockus rufirostris)

Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill [sp] (Tockus leucomelas)

Trumpeter Hornbill (Bycanistes bucinator)

Ground-hornbills (Bucorvidae)

Southern Ground Hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)

PICIFORMES

African Barbets and Tinkerbirds (Lybiidae)

Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird [sp] (Pogoniulus chrysoconus)

Acacia Pied Barbet [sp] (Tricholaema leucomelas)

Black-collared Barbet [sp] (Lybius torquatus)

Crested Barbet [sp] (Trachyphonus vaillantii)

Honeyguides (Indicatoridae)

Lesser Honeyguide [sp] (Indicator minor)

Scaly-throated Honeyguide (Indicator variegatus)

Woodpeckers (Picidae)

Bennett's Woodpecker [sp] (Campethera bennettii)

Golden-tailed Woodpecker [sp] (Campethera abingoni)

Knysna Woodpecker (Campethera notata)

Ground Woodpecker (Geocolaptes olivaceus)

Cardinal Woodpecker [sp] (Dendropicos fuscescens)

Bearded Woodpecker [sp] (Dendropicos namaquus)

Olive Woodpecker [sp] (Dendropicos griseocephalus)

FALCONIFORMES

Caracaras, Falcons (Falconidae)

Pygmy Falcon [sp] (Polihierax semitorquatus)

Rock Kestrel (Falco rupicolus)

Greater Kestrel [sp] (Falco rupicoloides)

Lanner Falcon [sp] (Falco biarmicus)

Peregrine Falcon [sp] (Falco peregrinus)

PSITTACIFORMES

Parrots and Macaws (Psittacidae)

Rosy-faced Lovebird [sp] (Agapornis roseicollis)

Meyer's Parrot [sp] (Poicephalus meyeri)

Brown-headed Parrot [sp] (Poicephalus cryptoxanthus)

Passeriformes

Broadbills (Eurylaimidae)

African Broadbill [sp] (Smithornis capensis)

Batises and Wattle-eyes (Platysteiridae)

Cape Batis [sp] (Batis capensis)

Chinspot Batis [sp] (Batis molitor)

Pririt Batis [sp] (Batis pririt)

Helmetshrikes and Allies (Prionopidae)

White-crested Helmetshrike [sp] (Prionops plumatus)

Retz's Helmetshrike [sp] (Prionops retzii)

Bush-shrikes (Malaconotidae)

Grey-headed Bushshrike [sp] (Malaconotus blanchoti)

Olive Bushshrike [sp] (Chlorophoneus olivaceus)

Orange-breasted Bushshrike [sp] (Chlorophoneus sulfureopectus)

Bokmakierie [sp] (Telophorus zeylonus)

Brown-crowned Tchagra [sp] (Tchagra australis)

Southern Tchagra [sp] (Tchagra tchagra)

Black-crowned Tchagra [sp] (Tchagra senegalus)

Black-backed Puffback [sp] (Dryoscopus cubla)

Tropical Boubou [sp] (Laniarius major)

Southern Boubou [sp] (Laniarius ferrugineus)

Brubru [sp] (Nilaus afer)

Cuckooshrikes (Campephagidae)

Black Cuckooshrike (Campephaga flava)

Shrikes (Laniidae)

Magpie Shrike [sp] (Urolestes melanoleucus)

Southern White-crowned Shrike [sp] (Eurocephalus anguitimens)

Southern Fiscal [sp] (Lanius collaris)

Old World Orioles (Oriolidae)

Black-headed Oriole [sp] (Oriolus larvatus)

Drongos (Dicruridae)

Fork-tailed Drongo [sp] (Dicrurus adsimilis)

Monarch Flycatchers (Monarchidae)

Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher [sp] (Trochocercus cyanomelas)

African Paradise Flycatcher [sp] (Terpsiphone viridis)

Crows and Jays (Corvidae)

Cape Crow [sp] (Corvus capensis)

Pied Crow (Corvus albus)

White-necked Raven (Corvus albicollis)

Rockjumpers (Chaetopidae)

Cape Rockjumper (Chaetops frenatus)

Fairy Flycatchers (Stenostiridae)

Fairy Flycatcher [sp] (Stenostira scita)

Tits and Chickadees (Paridae)

Southern Black Tit [sp] (Melaniparus niger)

Grey Tit [sp] (Melaniparus afer)

Penduline Tits (Remizidae)

Cape Penduline Tit [sp] (Anthoscopus minutus)

Nicators (Nicatoridae)

Eastern Nicator (Nicator gularis)

Larks (Alaudidae)

Spike-heeled Lark [sp] (Chersomanes albofasciata)

Karoo Long-billed Lark [sp] (Certhilauda subcoronata)

Cape Long-billed Lark [sp] (Certhilauda curvirostris)

Agulhas Long-billed Lark (Certhilauda brevirostris)

Black-eared Sparrow-lark (Eremopterix australis)

Grey-backed Sparrow-lark [sp] (Eremopterix verticalis)

Sabota Lark [sp] (Calendulauda sabota)

Karoo Lark [sp] (Calendulauda albescens)

Red Lark (Calendulauda burra)

Barlow's Lark [sp] (Calendulauda barlowi)

Cape Clapper Lark [sp] (Mirafra apiata)

Flappet Lark [sp] (Mirafra rufocinnamomea)

Sclater's Lark (Spizocorys sclateri)

Stark's Lark (Spizocorys starki)

Large-billed Lark [sp] (Galerida magnirostris)

Red-capped Lark [sp] (Calandrella cinerea)

Bulbuls (Pycnonotidae)

African Red-eyed Bulbul [sp] (Pycnonotus nigricans)

Cape Bulbul (Pycnonotus capensis)

Dark-capped Bulbul [sp] (Pycnonotus tricolor)

Sombre Greenbul [sp] (Andropadus importunus)

Yellow-bellied Greenbul [sp] (Chlorocichla flaviventris)

Terrestrial Brownbul [sp] (Phyllastrephus terrestris)

Yellow-streaked Greenbul [sp] (Phyllastrephus flavostriatus)

Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Black Saw-wing [sp] (Psalidoprocne pristoptera)

Brown-throated Martin [sp] (Riparia paludicola)

Banded Martin [sp] (Riparia cincta)

Barn Swallow [sp] (Hirundo rustica)

White-throated Swallow (Hirundo albigularis)

Wire-tailed Swallow [sp] (Hirundo smithii)

Blue Swallow (Hirundo atrocaerulea)

Pearl-breasted Swallow [sp] (Hirundo dimidiata)

Rock Martin [sp] (Ptyonoprogne fuligula)

Greater Striped Swallow (Cecropis cucullata)

Lesser Striped Swallow [sp] (Cecropis abyssinica)

Red-breasted Swallow [sp] (Cecropis semirufa)

Mosque Swallow [sp] (Cecropis senegalensis)

Crombecs, African warblers (Macrosphenidae)

Cape Grassbird [sp] (Sphenoeacus afer)

Long-billed Crombec [sp] (Sylvietta rufescens)

Victorin's Warbler (Cryptillas victorini)

Leaf warblers and allies (Phylloscopidae)

Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus ruficapilla)

Willow Warbler [sp] (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Reed warblers and allies (Acrocephalidae)

Lesser Swamp Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus gracilirostris)

African Reed Warbler [sp] (Acrocephalus baeticatus)

Grassbirds and allies (Locustellidae)

Little Rush Warbler [sp] (Bradypterus baboecala)

Knysna Warbler [sp] (Bradypterus sylvaticus)

Cisticolas and Allies (Cisticolidae)

Red-faced Cisticola [sp] (Cisticola erythrops)

Rattling Cisticola [sp] (Cisticola chiniana)

Grey-backed Cisticola [sp] (Cisticola subruficapilla)

Levaillant's Cisticola [sp] (Cisticola tinniens)

Neddicky [sp] (Cisticola fulvicapilla)

Zitting Cisticola [sp] (Cisticola juncidis)

Cloud Cisticola [sp] (Cisticola textrix)

Tawny-flanked Prinia [sp] (Prinia subflava)

Black-chested Prinia [sp] (Prinia flavicans)

Karoo Prinia [sp] (Prinia maculosa)

Namaqua Warbler [sp] (Phragmacia substriata)

Bar-throated Apalis [sp] (Apalis thoracica)

Rudd's Apalis [sp] (Apalis ruddi)

Yellow-breasted Apalis [sp] (Apalis flavida)

Rufous-eared Warbler [sp] (Malcorus pectoralis)

Green-backed Camaroptera [sp] (Camaroptera brachyura)

Grey-backed Camaroptera [sp] (Camaroptera brevicaudata)

Cinnamon-breasted Warbler [sp] (Euryptila subcinnamomea)

Yellow-bellied Eremomela [sp] (Eremomela icteropygialis)

Karoo Eremomela [sp] (Eremomela gregalis)

Burnt-necked Eremomela [sp] (Eremomela usticollis)

Laughingthrushes (Leiothrichidae)

Arrow-marked Babbler [sp] (Turdoides jardineii)

Southern Pied Babbler (Turdoides bicolor)

Sylviid Babblers (Sylviidae)

Chestnut-vented Warbler [sp] (Sylvia subcaerulea)

Layard's Warbler [sp] (Sylvia layardi)

White-eyes (Zosteropidae)

Cape White-eye [sp] (Zosterops virens)

Orange River White-eye (Zosterops pallidus)

Sugarbirds (Promeropidae)

Cape Sugarbird (Promerops cafer)

Starlings (Sturnidae)

Common Myna [sp] (Acridotheres tristis)

Common Starling [sp] (Sturnus vulgaris)

Wattled Starling (Creatophora cinerea)

Cape Starling [sp] (Lamprotornis nitens)

Greater Blue-eared Starling [sp] (Lamprotornis chalybaeus)

Meves's Starling [sp] (Lamprotornis mevesii)

Burchell's Starling (Lamprotornis australis)

Pied Starling (Lamprotornis bicolor)

Violet-backed Starling [sp] (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)

Red-winged Starling [sp] (Onychognathus morio)

Pale-winged Starling (Onychognathus nabouroup)

Oxpeckers (Buphagidae)

Yellow-billed Oxpecker [sp] (Buphagus africanus)

Red-billed Oxpecker (Buphagus erythrorhynchus)

Thrushes (Turdidae)

Groundscraper Thrush [sp] (Turdus litsitsirupa)

Kurrichane Thrush [sp] (Turdus libonyana)

Olive Thrush [sp] (Turdus olivaceus)

Karoo Thrush (Turdus smithi)

Chats and Old World Flycatchers (Muscicapidae)

Karoo Scrub Robin [sp] (Cercotrichas coryphoeus)

Bearded Scrub Robin [sp] (Cercotrichas quadrivirgata)

Kalahari Scrub Robin [sp] (Cercotrichas paena)

White-browed Scrub Robin [sp] (Cercotrichas leucophrys)

Brown Scrub Robin [sp] (Cercotrichas signata)

Grey Tit-flycatcher [sp] (Myioparus plumbeus)

Southern Black Flycatcher [sp] (Melaenornis pammelaina)

Pale Flycatcher [sp] (Melaenornis pallidus)

Chat Flycatcher [sp] (Melaenornis infuscatus)

Fiscal Flycatcher [sp] (Melaenornis silens)

Spotted Flycatcher [sp] (Muscicapa striata)

African Dusky Flycatcher [sp] (Muscicapa adusta)

Cape Robin-chat [sp] (Cossypha caffra)

White-throated Robin-chat (Cossypha humeralis)

White-browed Robin-chat [sp] (Cossypha heuglini)

Red-capped Robin-chat [sp] (Cossypha natalensis)

Chorister Robin-chat [sp] (Cossypha dichroa)

White-starred Robin [sp] (Pogonocichla stellata)

Cape Rock Thrush (Monticola rupestris)

Sentinel Rock Thrush [sp] (Monticola explorator)

African Stonechat [sp] (Saxicola torquatus)

Buff-streaked Chat (Campicoloides bifasciatus)

Sickle-winged Chat [sp] (Emarginata sinuata)

Karoo Chat [sp] (Emarginata schlegelii)

Tractrac Chat [sp] (Emarginata tractrac)

Mocking Cliff Chat [sp] (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris)

Ant-eating Chat (Myrmecocichla formicivora)

Mountain Wheatear [sp] (Myrmecocichla monticola)

Capped Wheatear [sp] (Oenanthe pileata)

Familiar Chat [sp] (Oenanthe familiaris)

Sunbirds (Nectariniidae)

Collared Sunbird [sp] (Hedydipna collaris)

Orange-breasted Sunbird (Anthobaphes violacea)

Olive Sunbird [sp] (Cyanomitra olivacea)

Amethyst Sunbird [sp] (Chalcomitra amethystina)

Scarlet-chested Sunbird [sp] (Chalcomitra senegalensis)

Malachite Sunbird [sp] (Nectarinia famosa)

Southern Double-collared Sunbird [sp] (Cinnyris chalybeus)

Greater Double-collared Sunbird [sp] (Cinnyris afer)

Marico Sunbird [sp] (Cinnyris mariquensis)

Purple-banded Sunbird [sp] (Cinnyris bifasciatus)

White-bellied Sunbird [sp] (Cinnyris talatala)

Dusky Sunbird [sp] (Cinnyris fuscus)

Old World Sparrows and Snowfinches (Passeridae)

White-browed Sparrow-weaver [sp] (Plocepasser mahali)

Sociable Weaver [sp] (Philetairus socius)

House Sparrow [sp] (Passer domesticus)

Cape Sparrow [sp] (Passer melanurus)

Southern Grey-headed Sparrow [sp] (Passer diffusus)

Yellow-throated Petronia [sp] (Gymnoris superciliaris)

Weavers (Ploceidae)

Red-billed Buffalo Weaver [sp] (Bubalornis niger)

Scaly-feathered Weaver [sp] (Sporopipes squamifrons)

Thick-billed Weaver [sp] (Amblyospiza albifrons)

Spectacled Weaver [sp] (Ploceus ocularis)

Cape Weaver [sp] (Ploceus capensis)

Holub's Golden Weaver (Ploceus xanthops)

Lesser Masked Weaver [sp] (Ploceus intermedius)

Southern Masked Weaver [sp] (Ploceus velatus)

Village Weaver [sp] (Ploceus cucullatus)

Dark-backed Weaver [sp] (Ploceus bicolor)

Red-headed Weaver [sp] (Anaplectes rubriceps)

Red-billed Quelea [sp] (Quelea quelea)

Southern Red Bishop [sp] (Euplectes orix)

Yellow Bishop [sp] (Euplectes capensis)

Long-tailed Widowbird [sp] (Euplectes progne)

Waxbills, Munias and Allies (Estrildidae)

Green-winged Pytilia [sp] (Pytilia melba)

Cut-throat Finch [sp] (Amadina fasciata)

Green Twinspot [sp] (Mandingoa nitidula)

Pink-throated Twinspot (Hypargos margaritatus)

Red-billed Firefinch [sp] (Lagonosticta senegala)

African Firefinch [sp] (Lagonosticta rubricata)

Jameson's Firefinch [sp] (Lagonosticta rhodopareia)

Blue Waxbill [sp] (Uraeginthus angolensis)

Swee Waxbill (Coccopygia melanotis)

Common Waxbill [sp] (Estrilda astrild)

Black-faced Waxbill [sp] (Estrilda erythronotos)

Orange-breasted Waxbill [sp] (Amandava subflava)

Bronze Mannikin [sp] (Lonchura cucullata)

Red-backed Mannikin (Lonchura nigriceps)

Indigobirds (Viduidae)

Pin-tailed Whydah (Vidua macroura)

Pipits and Wagtails (Motacillidae)

Cape Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla capensis)

African Pied Wagtail [sp] (Motacilla aguimp)

Cape Longclaw [sp] (Macronyx capensis)

Yellow-throated Longclaw (Macronyx croceus)

African Pipit [sp] (Anthus cinnamomeus)

Long-billed Pipit [sp] (Anthus similis)

Plain-backed Pipit [sp] (Anthus leucophrys)

Striped Pipit (Anthus lineiventris)

African Rock Pipit (Anthus crenatus)

Yellow-breasted Pipit (Anthus chloris)

Finches, Siskins and Crossbills (Fringillidae)

Common Chaffinch [sp] (Fringilla coelebs)

Yellow-fronted Canary [sp] (Crithagra mozambica)

Cape Siskin (Crithagra totta)

Yellow Canary [sp] (Crithagra flaviventris)

Brimstone Canary [sp] (Crithagra sulphurata)

Streaky-headed Seedeater [sp] (Crithagra gularis)

White-throated Canary [sp] (Crithagra albogularis)

Protea Canary (Crithagra leucoptera)

Cape Canary [sp] (Serinus canicollis)

Black-headed Canary [sp] (Serinus alario)

Buntings and New World Sparrows (Emberizidae)

Lark-like Bunting [sp] (Emberiza impetuani)

Cinnamon-breasted Bunting [sp] (Emberiza tahapisi)

Cape Bunting [sp] (Emberiza capensis)

Golden-breasted Bunting [sp] (Emberiza flaviventris)