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Nieuwoudtville to Calvinia

The dramatic Vanrhyns Pass abruptly lifts you above the arid plains of the Knersvlakte into moister vegetation again. Nieuwoudtville is world famous for its flowers, and the incredible density and diversity of bulbs produces a spring floral display that is arguably as spectacular as that of Namaqualand. Flowerwatching is at its best in the Nieuwoudtville Flower Reserve (3 km east of town on the Calvinia road) and at Glenlyon Wildflower Farm (ask for directions in town). Look out for Clapper Lark (p.116*), Southern Black Korhaan (p.57*) and Grey-wing Francolin in these areas. The Nieuwoudtville Falls, signposted 10 km along the Loeriesfontein road, are also definitely worth a visit. The scrub in the rocky areas surrounding the falls holds an interesting selection of birds, among them Layard’s Titbabbler, Fairy Flycatcher, Pale-winged Starling and even, the occasional Protea Canary (p.57*). Cape Eagle Owl (p.105*) occur here and in other rocky areas in the vicinity, but move around and are not easily seen. Continuing along the main tar road towards Calvinia and, ultimately, Brandvlei, you will notice the landscape becoming markedly more arid, until you reach the semidesert of Bushmanland, north and east of Calvinia. Roadside birds to be on the alert for beyond Nieuwoudtville are Ludwig’s Bustard (p.105*), Booted Eagle, Black Harrier (p.57*) and Greater Kestrel. At Calvinia, check the trees and reeds along the Oorlogskloof River, near the Shell service station, for Namaqua Warbler (p.85*) and African Marsh Warbler (summer). Turn into Hospitaal Street near the big silos and make your way to the nearby Akkerendam Nature Reserve. This is your last chance to see Karoo Lark (look on the plains shortly after you enter the reserve) as, in Bushmanland proper, only the similar but more localized Red Lark occurs. Park near the dam and walk along the broad path that leads into a huge amphitheatre. The hillside scrub along here holds Layard’s Titbabbler, Karoo Prinia, Karoo Robin, Mountain Chat, Cape Bunting and Black-headed Canary, while Fairy Flycatcher, Cape Penduline Tit (p.81) and White-backed Mousebird prefer the taller vegetation along the river-course on the right. This reserve is also an excellent locality for Cinnamon-breasted Warbler (p.85*), which is best searched for on the rocky slopes to the left of the broad path. Scan the skies for Black Eagle, Booted Eagle and Jackal Buzzard.

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4 Crassula Way, Pinelands, 7405, Cape Town, South Africa

27/09/09: Dalton 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 2009.

30/08/09: British 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. Highlights: Little Shearwater and more!

07/08/09: The sub-adult Black Sarrowhawk visits our garden again! Read on about Raptor Research in the Western Cape.

27/07/09: 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 Buttonquail, Cinnamon-breasted 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:
Wildlife 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 a Birding 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 False Killer Whales were shot. Click here for more details and pictures.

14 March 09: Raptor Watch in Cape Town on 14 March 09