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Entering the Strandveld: Silwerstroomstrand

Uniform thickets of tall vegetation line the road as you head north along the R27, beyond the ever-expanding borders of Cape Town. These alien trees, introduced from Australia in the 19th century to stabilize the dunes, continue to spread and smother the indigenous plants. Resisting most attempts to root them from the landscape, they currently pose one of the greatest threats to the natural vegetation. As you proceed further north, the low, scrubby plant cover native to the area becomes more evident. Here referred to broadly as ‘strandveld’ (although it contains elements of lowland fynbos, see p.7), it occurs on very sandy soils and is characterized by low, dense, thicket vegetation (with many fruit-bearing shrubs) interspersed with stands of restios (brown, reed-like plants), and supports a rich bird community.

Interestingly, the prominent hill on the right, close to the R27, is the site of a battle that had a decisive influence on the course of history in South Africa. It was after this confrontation, nearly two centuries ago, that an invasion force of 63 British warships captured the Cape and brought 150 years of Dutch rule at the southern tip of Africa to an abrupt end. On the left, only 30 km from the centre of Cape Town, loom the controversial reactor domes of South Africa’s only nuclear power station, Koeberg. Black-shouldered Kite, Pied Crow and Fiscal Shrike are common roadside birds along the R27, and they are joined in summer by Steppe Buzzard and Yellow-billed Kite. From Koeberg northwards, strandveld vegetation is largely dominant and there are a number of places where one can gain access to its birds.

In early 2000, seve-ral massive fires swept over much of the West Coast south of Lange-baan and devastated huge tracts of its vegetation, which can now be seen in various stages of recovery.

Silwerstroomstrand is the closest prime strandveld site to Cape Town, and supports a rich diversity of birds. Take the ‘Silwerstroomstrand’ turn-off to the left 32.7 km, north of the ‘Dolphin Beach’ pans, and park on the edge of the road after 0.8 km.

The thicker vegetation harbours species such as the White-backed Mousebird, Karoo Lark (common, but inconspicuous), Cape Penduline Tit (p.81), Cape Bulbul, Cape Robin, Karoo Robin, Titbabbler, Layard’s Titbabbler, Grey-backed Cisticola, Long-billed Crombec, Bar-throated Apalis, Grassbird, Bokmakierie, Lesser Double-collared Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Cape Weaver, and Yellow and White-throated Canaries, while the more open patches should be searched for Grey-wing Francolin (their calls can be heard early in the morning), Southern Black Korhaan (p.57*), Clapper Lark (see p.116*; uncommon) and Cape Bunting. Even the rare Hottentot Buttonquail (see p.23) has been flushed here.

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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