The superficially sterile monoculture of the Overberg wheatlands
harbours a surprising diversity of birds, including such sought-after
species as Black
Harrier (p.57*), Blue
Crane (p.72*), Stanleys
Bustard (p.72*), Karoo Korhaan, Agulhas
Long-billed Lark (p.73*) and the endemic southern Cape
subspecies of Clapper
Lark (see pp.64, 116*). The area is also pleasantly
scenic, with only the scatter of fiery red aloes across the
winter hillsides destroying the illusion of a restful southern
of the best birding areas to explore is that between Swellendam
and De Hoop Nature Reserve. Three good gravel roads (see map,
p.58) run between the two, flanked by a mosaic of wheatfields,
fallow lands, and, on the steeper hillsides and valleys, islands
of natural renosterveld scrub (see p.7). A rewarding loop
that offers access to all the important birds is the following:
take the N2 national road past Swellendam, and continue for
7 km to the hamlet of Buffeljagsrivier. Just beyond the BP
service station, turn right onto the gravel road (signposted
Malgas); turn left after 3.3 km and continue for
a further 4.3 km before pulling off. Search the scrub along
the road edge for Agulhas
Long-billed Lark and Clapper
Lark. Both are common here and are especially conspicuous
when aerially displaying in spring. This road is also good
for the scarce Stanleys
Bustard, Karoo Korhaan (rather atypically,
in such moist habitat), Southern
Black Korhaan (p.57*), Grey-wing Francolin
(seen feeding on the road verges in the mornings and late
afternoons) and Long-billed Pipit. Exactly 28.3 km
from the N2, shortly after you cross two cattle grids, look
for one of the Capes few Horus Swift colonies
in a gully on the western (right-hand) side of the road. Four
kilometres further on, the road crosses the Breede River at
the village of Malgas. Here, you can enjoy the quaint experience
of having your car inched across the river on South Africas
last working pont.
past Malgas, the route joins the gravel road that leads to
Potberg and the De Hoop Nature Reserve, and ultimately to
the town of Bredasdorp. The remnant patches of indigenous
scrub near this junction are good for Clapper
Lark, and the stretch from here to Bredasdorp (especially
around the main De Hoop turn-off) is excellent for Stanleys
Bustard. If you wish to return to the N2, you can
turn right at the fork 1 km later (see map p.58), and follow
another gravel road to Swellendam, along which there are also
good numbers of Agulhas
Long-billed Lark and Blue
Crane. The latter is a fairly common sight throughout
whole of the Overberg region is good raptor country; regularly
seen species include Secretarybird, Martial Eagle,
Lesser Kestrel and Black Harrier. Common and
characteristic species of the agricultural lands are White
Stork, Black Crow, Southern Thick-billed
and Red-capped Larks, Capped Wheatear, Orange-throated
Longclaw, Pied Starling, Pin-tailed Whydah,
Yellow Canary and, particularly in stubble fields,
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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