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Lambert's Bay to Verlorenvlei:

The Cape Gannet colony at Lambert’s Bay is a spectacle not to be missed, and must rank as one of the birding highlights of the West Coast. Nearly 14 000 pairs breed on the bay’s Bird Island, now connected to the mainland by a wide concrete breakwater extending from the harbour (see box opposite). Small numbers of African Penguin (p.32*) can also be seen here, and all four marine cormorants breed on the island. A host of gulls and terns, including Swift Tern, are also present. Cape Fur Seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) may also be seen in the vicinity.

A good selection of waterfowl and waders usually inhabit Jakkalsvlei, a lake on the northern edge of town (reached from the caravan park). Note, however, that it can be dry for the most part in summer. Regular species here are Greater Flamingo, South African Shelduck, and Cape and Red-billed Teals. The handsome and localized Heaviside’s Dolphin (see box, p.104) sometimes comes close inshore. The strandveld vegetation near Lambert’s Bay holds all the birds profiled on p.44; notable strandveld birds include Clapper and Karoo Larks, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Yellow-bellied Eremomela and Rufous-eared Warbler.

Lambert’s Bay can be reached most efficiently by following the N7 national road from Cape Town to Clanwilliam, and then taking the tarred R364 towards the coast (look out for Anteating Chat along the way). It can thus be easily visited as a detour from the N7 while en route to Namaqualand or Bushmanland, and is well combined with a visit to Kransvlei Poort (see overleaf). Those with a little more time may wish to travel along the rather poor unsurfaced roads leading south from Lambert’s Bay towards Velddrif, that offer pleasant wetland and strandveld birding (see below).

Follow the coastal road south from Lambert’s Bay towards Elands Bay (look out for the uncommon Chat Flycatcher), and, after 11.8 km (just before the railway bridge), turn right to follow the railway line until you reach Wadrifsoutpan (‘wagon drift saltpan’) after about 1 km. This is a private road, and you are not permitted to proceed past the toll station adjacent to the pan. Wadrifsoutpan is split in two by the railway line, and the smaller seaward section is worth searching for a selection of waterbird and wader species, including South African Shelduck, Cape Teal and Greater Flamingo. However, it can be largely dry in summer. A wide variety of strandveld birds occur here, most notably Cape Long-billed and Clapper Larks (p. 116*).

Continue along the unsurfaced road to Elands Bay, which is situated at the mouth of the bird-rich Verlorenvlei (‘lost lake’). At Elands Bay, turn southwards along the road that crosses the vlei, and turn to the left at the T-junction on the southern bank. Scan the reedbed edges (such as those in the vicinity of the road bridge) for Little Bittern, African Rail, Red-chested Flufftail, Purple Gallinule, Purple Heron, Malachite Kingfisher and African Marsh Harrier. The rocky slopes lying south of the T-junction hold a host of scrub birds, including Southern Grey Tit. A pair of Black Eagles breeds on the nearby cliffs and are often seen overhead. You may wish to continue along the southern edge of the lake for a few more kilometres, as a wide diversity of waterbird species may be seen from the road. These include Great Crested Grebe, White Pelican, Greater and Lesser Flamingoes, South African Shelduck, African Fish Eagle, Caspian Tern and a variety of waders.

Retrace your route to Elands Bay, then turn right onto the R366. This follows the 40-km length of Verlorenvlei inland towards Redelinghuys (please ask the landowners’ permission should you wish to reach the lake itself at any point), before heading south to Aurora. The mountains to the east of Aurora hold a number of interesting species, including Protea Canary (opposite), and Black and Booted Eagles. The tarred road resumes from Aurora southwards, and ultimately intersects with the R399, 41 km to the east of Velddrif.

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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