Birds of South Africa January/February 2020

In this blog I have tried to compile a record of the different birds we saw on our holiday to South Africa in January and February 2020.

We started our holiday with a safari trip to the Thornybush Private Game Reserve in Greater Kruger. Although the main focus of the trip was to observe the animals in the park there were plenty of opportunities to see lots of birds.

We spent three nights at the Chapungu Lodge in Greater Kruger and took part in 6 game drives (3 in the morning from 5 am to 8am and 3 in the afternoon from 4 pm to 7 pm).

We then flew back to Johannesburg and then on to Port Elizabeth. From there we drove along the Garden Route to Cape Town stopping (for 2 or 3 nights each time) at St Francis Bay, Knysna, Oudtshoorn, Robertson, and Franschoek. When we arrived in Cape Town we spent 10 nights in Camps Bay.

We were due to do a bird watching trip up the Kromme River in St Francis but this was cancelled due to persistent rain. The only other organised bird watching trip was to the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve when we were staying in Cape Town.

Not all our time was spent bird watching We managed to pack lots in to our holiday including seeing South Africa play England in a cricket ODI at Newlands and visits to lots of vineyards and botanical gardens.

I have tried to show a variety of the birds we saw at each place. Although I am very pleased with many of the photos others are not so good but are included for ID purposes. Currently there is no particular order to the birds but they are generally in the order in which we saw them.

Please note: I am still adding photos to this collection and continuing the process of identifying and labelling them.

Click on heading for each place (on the following pages there will be a link to return to this page or use the back button on your browser)


Birds of Thornybush Private Game Reserve, Greater Kruger


Birds of Knysna


Birds of Oudtshoorn


Birds of Robertson


Birds of Strandfontein Birding Area, False Bay Coastal Park


Birds of Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve


Birds of Camps Bay


Birds of Blouberg Strand and nearby lagoons


Birds of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens



10th February 2020 – Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Town

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We spent the last day of our wonderful trip to South Africa visiting the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Their website says “Kirstenbosch is acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch, against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain”. Indeed Kirstenbosch is one of our favourite gardens in the world. We have visited it several times and even visited it on this trip with some friends just over a week ago when we arrived in Cape Town.

It was a bit cooler today and even quite chilly as the cloud came down late in the afternoon. (Although, the other side of the mountain in Camps Bay, where we have been  staying, it had been sunny and hot all day.

DSC06807View across Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden from the Tree Canopy Walk.

DSC06768Tree Canopy Walkway

Today we saw more birds than last week (clearly I must have been talking too much last week) and even saw a new bird for us, an Olive Woodpecker. But the stars of the day were the Lesser Double-collared Sunbirds which we saw several times feeding in the Ericas. We also had plenty of sightings of Cape Bulbuls.

DSC06156Olive Woodpecker

DSC06140Olive Woodpecker

DSC06219Lesser Double-collared Sunbird

DSC06217Lesser Double-collared Sunbird

DSC06225Lesser Double-collared Sunbird

DSC06597Cape Bulbul

DSC06558Cape Bulbul

DSC06622Cape Bulbul

DSC06190Forest Canary

DSC06657Cape Robin-Chat

DSC06512Juvenile Cape Robin-Chat

DSC06488Fork-tailed Drongo


DSC06532Red-winged Starling

DSC06747Butterflies too!

… and lots of beautiful plants:





What a great way to end our trip.






6th February 2020- Kogelsberg Biosphere Reserve

For our last nature trip on our holiday to South Africa we organised our first ever  birding trip through the company  “Birding Africa” ( to the Kogelsberg Biosphere Reserve.

“Birding Africa” were very efficient in their administration and our guide David Swanepoel was superb. David quickly assessed our capabilities and designed a programme which was very suitable for us. He clearly had an amazing knowledge of birds and was excellent at spotting and pointing them out to us (not an insignificant skill!). We really enjoyed David’s company throughout the day. He drove us safely and was most a most engaging and interesting character. We arrived safely back at our apartment in Camps Bay after a very full day, exhausted but exhilarated


I have taken the following article about the reserve from which I find most fascinating:

“Just an hour out of Cape Town at the southern tip of Africa, lies an area of such natural beauty and floral diversity as to be recognized as perhaps world’s greatest biodiversity hot-spot. Size for size, the 100,000 hectare UNESCO designated Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve is home to the most complex biodiversity on our planet with more than 1,880 different plant species … the next richest is the South American rainforest with just 420 species per 10,000 square kilometers!

Biosphere reserves are ‘new concept’ reserves: no fences to keep ‘people’ out and ‘nature’ in. It is the commitment of local communities, farmers, conservation agencies and local government that protects the magnificent landscapes and unique biodiversity.

The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve begins in the Atlantic Ocean, 7.5 km off a rugged, rocky shore interspersed by glorious, golden sandy beaches. A zig-zag ribbon of narrow coastal plain is squeezed between the ocean and huge sandstone mountains. Contorted by their tumultuous birth some 300 million years ago, these awesome folded mountains and highland valleys are home to the more than 1,880 different species of plants. Seventy seven (77) species within the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve occur nowhere else on earth. To put this in perspective, the whole of the UK has just twenty two (22) endemics.”

Our birding experience started at Rooi Els where we went looking for Cape Rock Jumpers. David heard them but they did not show themselves to us. However, we had very good views of sunbirds and Familiar Chats which was more than enough to keep us happy.

DSC00066Cape bunting

DSC00068Orange-breasted sunbird

DSC00337There’s no bird hiding here – I was just fascinated by all the different vegetation

DSC00198Familiar chat



DSC00280Orange-breasted sunbird

DSC00363Cape sugar bird

After a coffee break at Betty’s Bay we moved on to Stony Point to see African Penguins. We were also fascinated by the four different types of cormorant. We also saw water thick-knees and an oystercatcher amongst the rocks as well as dassies. These little furry creatures are, unbelievably, the closest living relative to African elephants.






DSC00712African penguins

We also saw lots of Cape Wagtails, Kelp Gulls and Hartlaub’s Gull.


DSC00437Kelp gull

DSC00594Hautlaub’s gull


DSC00915Bank cormorant

DSC00945White-breasted cormorant

DSC00741cape cormorant

DSC00621Crowned cormorant

DSC00798Water thick knees


After Stony Point we went to the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens. Here David picked out all sorts of birds for us. For me the stand out ones were sunbirds , flycatchers the Cape Robin-Chat, the Karoo Prinia and the Cape White-eye. Perhaps when I look at my photos again I will remember more.

DSC05899Harold Porter National Botanical Garden


DSC01037Lesser Southern Double-collared Sunbird

DSC01075Juvenile Fiscal Flycatcher

DSC01149Cape canary

DSC01101Forest canary





DSC01175Lesser Southern Double-collared sunbird

DSC01216Orange-breasted sunbird

DSC01224Orange-breasted sunbird

DSC01242Orange-breasted sunbird

DSC01267Karoo Prinia

DSC01321Cape White-eye


DSC01476Cape Robin-chat

After the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden we returned to Betty’s Bay for lunch.

On our route back to Camps Bay we stopped off at a wetlands at Somerset West but the water was very low and, although we could see lots of birds in the distance, we felt that we had had enough and set off to face the Cape Town traffic.

The weather was not very kind to us as it was very windy and quite grey. In a way that may have been a blessing as we might have been even more exhausted if it had been a hot sunny day.


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Friday 31st January 2020 – Strandfontein Sewerage Works, Western Cape SA

The Cape Flats Waste Water Treatment Works, or simply Strandfontein as it is known to birders, also forms part of the False Bay Nature Reserve. It really is a marvel for birders as you can drive around the gravel paths and see and photograph birds at close quarters.

Strandfontein features more than 300 hectares of reed-fringed detention ponds and dunes connected by gravel roads that are usually in good condition, although on this occasion we did have one terrifying moment when we got stuck in  a very deep section of slurry which had been deposited on one of the paths.and which demanded all our driving skills and ingenuity in to order to extricate from a very embarrassing situation.

In the end it was really worthwhile and we saw an amazing amount of birds in a very short trip.

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DSC08934Greater flamingo

DSC09420Greater flamingo

DSC09898Greater flamingo

DSC09820Cape weaver

DSC09754Black-winged stilt

DSC09727White-necked raven

DSC09577Cattle egret

DSC09537Cattle egret

DSC09605Blacksmith lapwing

DSC09482African sacred ibis

DSC09478African sacred ibis

DSC09392African sacred ibis

DSC09118White-faced whistling duck

DSC09128White-faced whistling duck



DSC09325Great white pelican

DSC09010African sacred ibis and glossy ibis

DSC09061Egytian goose

DSC09673Spur-winged goose

DSC09015Red billed teal

DSC08992Little grebe

DSC08975Barn swallow

DSC08897Caspian tern