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Select Specials: Garden Route and Interior

Narina Trogon

Named after the Khoikhoi mistress of the 18th-century French explorer and ornithologist François le Vaillant, the Narina Trogon has a quite unfounded reputation for elusiveness. The reality is that this bird is not particularly shy, and is easily deceived by imitations of its call. Note, however, that trogons invari-ably sound much further away than they are — you may find yourself patiently trying to lure in a seemingly distant bird that is in fact only two trees away from you. They swoop in quietly to perch in the canopy, usually facing away from you, thus turning a cryptic green against the forest canopy. Look out for the beautiful patches of electric blue skin on their faces that puff out as they call.

Knysna Lourie

This charismatic endemic makes a worthy icon of the Garden Route. It is usually first observed as a flash of red gliding through the green foliage, and is easy to locate by its hoarse, repetitive and very loud call, rising to a crescendo — one of the most evocative sounds of the mist-wreathed canopy of South Africa’s afromontane forests. The Knysna Lourie is perhaps less shy than other forest louries and appears insatiably curious. Many a lunch stop will be enlivened by the discovery of a lourie peering at you through the overhead leaves.

Chorister Robin

The Afrikaans name for this species, ‘Lawaaimaker’, is rather less generous than the English! It means ‘racket-maker’, but however melodious one considers it, the Chorister Robin is a very fine-looking endemic. In the Western Cape, its range only extends eastwards from Mossel Bay, and it occurs in all the Garden Route forests described here. It is perhaps typical of many forest species in that it is brightly coloured and vocal, but often infuriatingly skulking. It calls mostly at dawn, often from the forest canopy, which may make it difficult to locate. Beware of its remarkable powers of mimicry, which may be to blame if you are baffled by Crowned Eagles or African Goshawks calling from dense forest understorey!

African Rock Pipit

This poorly-known endemic is characteristic of South Africa’s mountainous interior. It is localized and largely inaccessible in the region covered by this book, with the notable exception of the Karoo National Park (opposite); see also Bergenaars Pass (p.112). African Rock Pipit is curiously inconspicuous and best detected by call — a rather unpipit-like descending whistle. The yellow edging on the bird’s folded wing, rather optimistically exaggerated in some field guides, is not a good field character. Rather, concentrate on its very distinctive call, plain plumage and relatively conspicuous eye-stripe to distinguish it from the Long-billed Pipit, which favours similarly rocky landscapes.

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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