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Rooi Els to Betty's Bay:

East of False Bay, the contours of the Hottentots Holland plunge precipitously into the sea, creating a spectacular stretch of coastline where mountain fynbos and marine specials can be seen virtually alongside each other. Heading east of Cape Town on the N2 national road, pass through Somerset West and turn right onto the R44 (signposted ‘Gordon’s Bay/Kleinmond’). Continue to the T-junction at the edge of the town of Gordon’s Bay, and turn left onto the scenic and dramatically sinuous coastal road that meanders southwards to the holiday village of Rooi Els.

At the edge of the village, the road crosses the Rooi Els river before veering to the left and heading steeply up a hill towards Betty’s Bay. To look for Cape Rockjumper (p.73*), take the second turn-off to the right (an unsurfaced road), just as the R44 begins its ascent. Park at the gate about 1 km further on, and continue on foot. Look out for rockjumpers on the left-hand side for the next 2 km, and for Black Eagle, Ground Wood-pecker (p.105*) and Cape Rock Thrush.

A little further east on the R44 lies the village of Betty’s Bay and nearby Stoney Point, site of one of only two mainland colonies of African Penguin (see pp.24 and 32*). On the lower mountain slopes of the dramatic Kogelberg range is the Harold Porter Botanical Garden, offering good fynbos and forest birding. To reach Stoney Point, take the signposted right turn towards the coast, just before the series of lakes on your right as you enter the rambling village of Betty’s Bay. The African Penguin colony is smaller than that at Boulders Beach on the Cape Peninsula (p.24) and usually hosts less than 100 breeding pairs. One unique problem that has faced the Stoney Point colony was devastating predation by a Leopard (Panthera pardus) that descended from the adjacent mountains. Bank Cormorant (p.21) also breeds here, alongside the more common Crowned, Cape and White-breasted Cormorants.

The Harold Porter Botanical Garden lies conspicuously signposted on your left just past the commercial centre of Betty’s Bay, and is a fine place for a few hours gentle ramble. The cultivated gardens are quite small, but surrounded by moist mountain fynbos dissected by two forested ravines, Disa Kloof (to your left) and Leopard Kloof (to your right). From the entrance gate, head up through the cultivated gardens to the solidly-built bridge over the Disa Kloof stream, and continue along the path up the kloof itself. Common birds of the lower gardens are Black Saw-wing Swallow, Cape Bulbul, Karoo Prinia, Southern Boubou, Malachite, Orange-breasted (p.33*) and Lesser Double-collared Sunbirds, Yellow-rumped Widow, Bully Canary and conveniently accessible Cape Siskin (p.33*). Protea Canary (p.57*) occasionally wanders down into the gardens, but is by no means regular here. There are usually swifts and swallows foraging overhead (including Rock Martin and African Black and Alpine Swifts), alongside soaring raptors (most commonly Black Eagle and Jackal Buzzard).

The forested path up Disa Kloof leads to a small, bitterly black dam, and ends a few hundred metres further on where a waterfall interrupts the stream. The forest along this path provides Bar-throated Apalis, Cape Batis, Paradise (summer) and Dusky Flycatchers, and occasionally Swee Waxbill. During late summer, spectacular Red Disa (Disa uniflora) orchids can be seen clinging to the dripping and slippery cliffs adjoining the waterfall. Make your way back to the dam and cross the bridge over its wall. A pair of African Black Duck is often present on the dam, if not elsewhere along the stream. A gentle path then leads out of the kloof and around the buttress between Disa and Leopard Kloofs, before dropping back down into the gardens. Cape Siskin, Neddicky, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Victorin’s Warbler (p.73*), Grassbird and Ground Woodpecker occur along this path. To visit Leopard Kloof, ask for a key at the entrance to the gardens. The forest conceals a series of pleasant waterfalls and, in addition to the forest species mentioned above, also hosts Olive Woodpeckers and the Cape’s westernmost regularly occurring Blue-mantled Flycatchers, which sometimes wander down into the cultivated gardens.

Cape Eagle Owl (p.105*) may be seen in the gardens at dusk by only the most fortu-nate of birders, and has even been observed at the roadside in Betty’s Bay village. Listen for its deep call, especially in winter.

The black water lakes and seeps around Betty’s Bay hold an exciting div-ersity of amphibians, including the Micro Frog (Micro-batrachella capensis), one of the world’s most threatened frog species.

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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