Southern Africa is one of the best places in the world for bird-watching. In
East Africa (countries like Kenya and Tanzania) 1 300 bird species have been
recorded - about 15% of the world's bird species. In Southern Africa (countries
like South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia), over 920 bird species have
been recorded - approximately 10% of the world's bird species.
BIRD WATCHING IN CAPE TOWN
The Western Cape, and particularly Cape Town and surrounds, offers excellent opportunities for bird watching and enthusiasts will find a varied number of reserves that make for excellent viewing. The Cape's birdlife is rich and varied and 60 of Southern Africa's 86 endemics and 42 of its 84 near-endemics occur in the Western Cape region. The Western Cape is also home to varied habitats including fynbos, forest and wetlands.
Cape Peninsula National Park - the habitat of the reserve is mostly coastal fynbos with long stretches of rocky and sandy shoreline. Endemics such as Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Siskin can be seen and sea watching is good in winter. The specialty of the reserve is Hottentot Button-quail, a bird that can require spending a lot of time in order to see it.
Kirstenbosch National Botanic Garden - the beautiful gardens offering both fynbos and forest vegetation offer good opportunities to view Cape Sugarbird, Orangebreasted, Sunbird and occasionally Knysna Warbler.
Strandfontein Sewage Works - this is the best waterbirds location in Cape Town and its possible to view over 100 species in a morning. Specials include waterfowl, African Marsh Harrier and Greater Flamingo.
West Coast National Park - this wetland site is home to a large number of migrant shorebirds. Vast areas of coastal shrubland host many endemic birds including Southern Black Korhaan, Black Harrier, Grey-backed Cisticola and Lesser Double Collared Sunbird. The tidal lagoon attracts tens of thousands of migratory waders every year as well as having numbers of resident water birds. It is one of the better spots to find Chestnut-banded Plovers.
Rondevlei Nature Reserve - Rondevlei provides a good representation of a cape flats wetland. There is a diversity of duck, heron, egret and grebe present plus African Spoonbill, White Pelican and Darter. It is the best spot close to Cape Town to see the Malachite Kingfisher and, when the water levels drop in Autumn, the Ethiopian Snipe can be spotted. The coastal fynbos supports a useful variety of the birds of this habitat - including the endemic Whitebacked Mousebird.
Pelagic Birding Trips
Due to the warm Agulhas current and the cold Benguela current meeting just offshore of the Cape, a great upwelling is formed creating a feeding ground for many Southern Ocean seabirds. Trips throughout the year produce numbers of pelagic species, but the best viewing is on winter trips. At least 3 species of albatross and a number of petrels, shearwaters, skuas and other specials are seen on most trips with an average of 19 true pelagic species being seen on a day trip at any time of the year.