The Cape Birding Route website
has been developed based on the book Essential birding,
authored by Callan Cohen and Claire Spottiswoode. Please
read more about the website,
and who we are
the Cape Birding Route Website
This site is maintained by three South African birders:
two ornithology research students, Callan
Cohen and Claire Spottiswoode, and an experienced
ornithologist, Dr Peter Ryan. We
run Birding Africa, a consulting and specialist guiding
company, and are endeavouring to encourage ecotourism
and international birding interest in Africa, and more
specifically our home region around Cape Town.
Birding and ornithology are both hobbies and a career
to us, and we hope that these pages will impart to both
locals and prospective visitors some of our enthusiasm
for this extraordinarily biodiverse region and its landscapes,
fauna and flora. Below is a summary of our activities;
please see the
the Birding Africa website > Our Tour Leaders
for more details.
the Book - Essential Birding: Western South Africa
Essential Birding was born out of frequent requests
by both local and visiting birders for assistance: what
are the best areas to visit, where are the best sites
for the endemic birds, and how can we see them during
a short visit to the region? We have done our best to
answer these questions.
The region covered by this book combines the Western
and Northern Cape provinces of South Africa, loosely
referred to as the Cape. Our purpose is to provide the
best sites for the regions characteristic birds
and to link these together into practical routes suitable
for a short visit to the region. Each route forms a
chapter (see map on contents page), beginning with a
regional map and introduction, and followed by site
accounts accompanied by individual maps. At the beginning
of each chapter is a short list of its most sought-after
species (Top Birds), and the chapter is
completed by a more detailed discussion of Select
Specials. In the latter, we have aimed to give
the reader a feel for the best places to visit and techniques
to employ in searching for these species (asterisked*
page numbers alongside bird names in the text refer
to these Select Specials pages). The annotated
bird list at the end of the book lists all the species
that have been recorded in the region, together with
their alternative and scientific names, references to
text citations, and status along each of this books
nine routes. Read international
and local book reviews.
Cohen & Claire Spottiswoode
Cohen and Claire Spottiswoode were born and educated
in Cape Town and became dedicated birders at a very
They are deeply interested in evolutionary biology and
are currently research students at the Percy FitzPatrick
Institute of Ornithology at the University of Cape Town,
respectively specialising on the systematics and biogeography
of the Bustard family, and behavioural ecology of an
endemic starling. They each graduated with distinction
in Zoology, Botany and Applied Maths from the University
of Cape Town, and are contributors to several books
(including The Atlas of Southern African Birds,
The Red Data Book of Birds of South Africa and
Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa 7th edition
in prep.) and popular and scientific journals.
Callan and Claire are also highly experienced African
birders, and countries that they have birded extensively
include South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia,
Morocco, Malawi, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia,
Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Madagascar and the Comoro
Islands, and have made brief forays into the Democratic
Republic of the Congo and Angola. One of Callan, Claire
and Peter's highlights was their involvement in the
rediscovery of the Namuli Apalis Apalis lynesi in
northern Mozambique, not seen since its discovery in
In particular, they have an intimate knowledge of Southern
Africa and were successively the youngest people to
see the landmark 800 species in this region (Callan
at age 21 and Claire at 18). They currently hold the
record for not only the most bird species seen in western
South Africa in 24 hours (over 220), but have also seen
over 40% of Southern Africa's endemics and near-endemics
in one day based near Cape Town. However, they're also
dedicated natural historians and have a passion for
all things natural, notably mammals, frogs, reptiles,
and the plants of the Cape Floral Kingdom and Karoo
In their more than 11 years of operation as Birding Africa,
the specialist bird guiding company they founded in 1997, they've
personally guided over 300 birders, as well as working for prestigious
UK, USA and Scandinavian bird tour companies, such as Sunbird,
Zegrahms Eco Expeditions and the Danish Ornithological Society.
Callan is certified as a Specialist Ornithological and Natural
History Guide with SATOUR (South African Tourism), and has been
vice-chairman of the Cape Bird Club, Africa's largest bird club.
is a lecturer at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African
Ornithology, University of Cape Town, and has also taught
ornithology at the University of California. He joined
Birding Africa in early 2001, bringing his huge
experience of leading numerous African birding tours since
A keen birder, Peter has birded on all seven continents
is a long-standing member of the South African Rarities
Committee. He's also co-editor of the current revision
of Roberts' Birds of Southern Africa, and is presently
also working on a field guide to the birds of the Afrotropics,
as well as having published widely in books and popular
and scientific journals.
His research interests include the evolutionary ecology
of birds, notably the endemic buntings at Tristan da Cunha
and African larks and warblers. Peter is one of the Southern
Oceans' most experienced seabirders, having made numerous
visits to Gough Island, Tristan da Cunha, the Prince Edward
Islands and Antarctica, and regularly guiding on Cape
Town pelagics. He currently also works on reducing
seabird mortality on longlines.
This website is maintained by Birding Africa.
Please do not use any text, images or content from this site without
© Birding Africa 1997-2009 email@example.com
4 Crassula Way, Pinelands, 7405, Cape Town, South Africa
Gibbs reports back from Gough
Island! Read the blog!
26/09/09: New Cape
Town Pelagics trip report from trips of 12 and 19 September
Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water proved very successful,
with sunny weather and over 20,000 visitors. Callan's "Birding
Namibia and the Okavango" was the most highly-attended
lecture on the Saturday, with over 240 people. Congratulations
to the winners of the Birding Africa competition and the
African Bird Club raffle that we helped sponsor!
12/08/09: New Cape
Town Pelagics trip reports from August and July 2009.
Shearwater and more!
sub-adult Black Sarrowhawk visits our garden again! Read
on about Raptor Research in the Western Cape.
Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has grown! And its sibling
never had a chance to hatch. See the pictures of the chick,
its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more about the Western
Cape Raptor Research Programme.
27/07/09: To follow modern nomenclature and systematics, we've
adopted the IOC
World Bird List, Version 2.1.
13/07/09: The 8th
African Bird ID Challenge has launched! Win a 50% discount
on a Cape Town Pelagics
trip, a copy of Southern
African Birdfinder, or African
Bird Club membership for 1 year.
6 July 09: Cape
White-eye research in our garden.
2 July 09: Cape
Town's Verreauxs' Eagle Chick has hatched! See the pictures
of the chick, its nest and the breeding pair. Find out more
about the Western Cape Raptor Research Programme.
2 July 09: Campbell
Fleming, a Cape Town scholar, avid birder and photographer,
joined Birding Africa last month as an intern. Click here,
to see what he got up to.
2 July 09: New pelagic
trip reports from the Cape Town Pelagics trips in June
2009. Highlights: Slenderbilled
Prion and Leach's Storm Petrel
30 july 09: Our latest Cape Fynbos and Karoo trip
reports feature Hottentot
Warbler and other fynbos and Karoo endemics...
26 June 09: Tungsten
mining threatens RAMSAR site, South Africa's Verlorenvlei.
Read the Media Release.
22 June 09: Claire
Spottiswoode, one of the Cape Birding Route founders,
was part of the exploratory team at Mount Mabu. The mountain
is part of the newly discovered largest
rainforest in Southern Africa.
11 June 09: A colour-ringed
Black Sparrowhawk visits the Birding Africa office garden.
Read why it's a 10 months old male!
14 June 09:
at the office of The Cape Birding Route, Birding Africa
and Cape Town Pelagics.
31 May 09:
Michel Watelet wins the 7th African Bird Club & Birding Africa
ID Challenge. Test your African birding skills and WIN
Africa Cape town day trip or a copy of the Birdfinder!
30 May 09:
A tragedy unfolds at Kommetjie south of Cape town as 44 beached
Killer Whales were shot. Click here for more details and
14 March 09: Raptor
Watch in Cape Town on 14 March 09