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The Three Passes: Theronsberg, Mitchell's and Bain's Kloof:

For those not keen to face the stresses of a dash back along the N1 to Cape Town, there is a very scenic alternative route via Ceres and Wellington. This takes in three superb mountain passes, all of which supply inter-esting birding in addition to marvellous mountain landscapes.

Theronsberg Pass, between Karoopoort and Ceres, has the gentlest landscape of the three, with grassy slopes frequented by White-necked Raven and, occasionally, Black Harrier (p.57*). Between this pass and Ceres are several small farm dams that are always worth a roadside scan for waterfowl.

In Mitchell’s Pass, west of Ceres, a good area to bird is the slope behind the conspicuous Tolhuis restaurant and pub. A footpath leads up from the shade of the Tolhuis oaks to a railway line on a protea-dense slope where Protea Canary (p.57*) may be found. Bar-throated Apalis, and occasionally Swee Waxbill, inhabit the dense bush just above the Tolhuis.

Bain’s Kloof Pass, traversing the mountains above Wellington, takes one along 30 km of dramatic curves supported by dry-stone walls built, with the use of convict labour, some 150 years ago. The spectacularly rugged, boulder-strewn terrain is laced with icy streams, stained a deep tea colour by humic acid leached from herbivore-deterring plants. These streams support the dense vegetation favoured by Victorin’s Warbler (p.73*), which is common in such habitat along the entire length of the pass.

At the summit of Bain’s Kloof Pass there is a small settlement shaded by alien trees frequented by Fiscal Flycatcher and, more rarely, Olive Woodpecker. Cape Rock Thrush, often surprisingly scarce elsewhere, perch on the buildings. The ridges in this vicinity are good for Cape Rockjumper (p.73*) and Cape Siskin (p.33*). Victorin’s Warbler also occur in the denser vegetation on the slopes. Scan overhead for Black Eagle. Birders caught out by nightfall would do well to carefully check all outcrops and telephone poles for the distinctive, bulky silhouette of the (admittedly ever-scarce) Cape Eagle Owl (p.105*).

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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