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Bontebok National Park:

On the plains to the southeast of Swellendam, along the Breede River, lies the Bontebok National Park. The signposted turn-off is on the N2 just east of the town, and the park entrance is a further 3 km along this untarred road. Quail Finch, a scarce bird in the Cape, occurs in moist depressions between the N2 and the park gate, especially opposite the Swellengrebel airstrip, 3.4 km south of the N2. A small number of Eastern Red-footed Kestrels, a very scarce bird in the Cape, have regularly been observed in this vicinity in summer. Much of the park consists of low, fynbos-clad plains, enlivened by grazing Bontebok (Damaliscus dorcas dorcas: an antelope which once came precariously close to extinction but which is now flourishing), Grey Rhebok (Pelea capreolus) and Cape Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra zebra). Driving the few kilometres across the plains to the rest camp along the Breede River at the park’s southern boundary, you might be disappointed by the apparent paucity of birds. It is well worth scanning the plains, however, for Secretarybird and Southern Black Korhaan (p.57*). Look for the occasional distant white dot which is likely to be a displaying male Stanley’s Bustard (p.72*). An early start and a thorough search through the roadside scrub between the park entrance and the rest camp should produce Clapper Lark (p.116*) and Grey-wing Francolin, the latter feeding nervously at the road edges. This is also one of the better areas in the Overberg for Martial Eagle and Black Harrier (p.57*).

There is excellent birding close to the rest camp, which offers both camping facilities and caravans for hire. A short trail starts behind the information centre and winds westwards through acacia thicket. Another begins at the bottom of the campsite, on the riverbank, and leads to an aloe-clad hillside bedecked with sunbirds in the winter flowering season. Olive Bush Shrike may occasionally be seen along the former trail. Other notable species (in Cape terms) are Klaas’s Cuckoo, Cardinal Woodpecker, Lesser Honeyguide, Southern Tchagra, Grey-headed Sparrow and Streaky-headed Canary. Pearl-breasted Swallow nest annually in the camp buildings and are easily seen during summer; other common birds of the campsite area are Cape Bulbul, Bar-throated Apalis, Fiscal Flycatcher, Southern Boubou, Malachite Sunbird and, feeding on the lawn edges, flocks of Swee Waxbill. You are bound to hear Fiery-necked Nightjar calling in the campsite at night, and are likely to see such river-loving species as African Black Duck and Giant Kingfisher along the Breede.

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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