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Cape Bird Club

CAPE PENINSULA SITE GUIDE

Cape of Good Hope

Entrance to the park - Mel Tripp
Entrance to the park - Mel Tripp
Gifkommetjie - Mel Tripp
The beach at Gifkommetjie - Mel Tripp
Baboons Cape Point - Mel Tripp
Baboons Buffels Bay - Mel Tripp
Aloes flowering in winter attract many sunbirds - Mel Tripp
Aloes flowering in winter attract many sunbirds - Mel Tripp
Cape Point seabird watching
Cape Point seabird watching - Mel Tripp
Albatross, Black-browed - Otto Schmidt
Black-browed Albatross - Otto Schmidt
Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre - Mel Tripp
Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre - Mel Tripp
Restio plains, circular drive - Mel Tripp
Restio plains, circular drive - Mel Tripp
The bos (bush) at Olifantsbos - Mel Tripp
The bos (bush) at Olifantsbos - Mel Tripp
Olifantsbos beach - Mel Tripp
Olifantsbos beach - Mel Tripp
Stands of Leucadendron Fynbos - Mel Tripp
Stands of Leucadendron Fynbos - Mel Tripp

Also known as ‘Cape Point’ and situated at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, Africa’s most south-western extremity. The habitat is mostly mountain fynbos, with strandveld comprising milkwood trees and other berry-bearing shrubs along coastal sections. The shoreline is a mixture of sandy and rocky beaches with some spectacular cliffs

Whilst the reserve is primarily a botanical sanctuary for indigenous plants, with almost 1 100 species in the 7 750 ha, a few mammals do occur with Chacma Baboon, Eland and Bontebok being the most common. Cape Mountain Zebra also occur.

The bird list stands at almost 250 species, of which about 70 breed here with two fynbos endemics, Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird mostly conspicuous in spring (August, September) when pincushion and other Protea species are in flower.

The density of birds in fynbos is generally quite low, particularly if recently burnt, but many can be found in the coastal thickets of Olifantsbos, Gifkommetjie, Buffels Bay and Black Rocks. Species such as Speckled Mousebird, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape Bulbul, Spotted Prinia, Cape and Brimstone Canaries, Cape Grassbird and Bokmakierie are quite common.

Olifantsbos is a good spot for some migrant waders in summer. Curlew Sandpiper, Common Ringed Plover, Greenshank, Whimbrel and Ruddy Turnstone feed on the rotting kelp. Sanderling patrol the sandy beaches with White-fronted Plovers and African Black Oystercatchers. Some unlikely species such as Egyptian Goose, Helmeted Guineafowl and Plain-backed Pipit also feed along the shoreline here.

White-breasted and Cape Cormorants nest on the cliffs at Cape Point and can be seen in their thousands at times, coming and going. These, along with Bank and Crowned Cormorants loaf on the rocks at the Cape of Good Hope beach car park, along with Swift Terns. In summer Common and Sandwich Terns also roost on these rocks.

Antarctic Terns come ashore to roost in winter at Hoek van Bobbejaan, Platboom and other spots.

Land-based seabird watching for pelagic species can be very good, particularly in winter during and after north-westerly gals, especially if you are not overly keen on a Cape pelagic trip (see Birding at Sea). From the cliffs at Cape Point, or the cliffs above the Cape of Good Hope beach car park, Shy and Black-browed Albatross can be quite common, as are Sooty Shearwater and White-chinned petrel along with Cape Gannets – to a lesser extent Yellow-nosed Albatross, Pintado Petrel and Giant Petrel. Lucky birders may spot Soft-plumaged or Great-winged Petrel or a Wilson’s Storm Petrel. A spotting scope is essential for the best viewing.

Summer sees Cory’s Shearwater, Sabine’s Gull and occasionally Great Shearwater.

The restio plains around Circular Drive are a good habitat for the recently split and endemic Hottentot Buttonquail.

Resident raptors include Verreaux’s Eagle (rare), African Fish Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, Jackal Buzzard, Rock Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon (which is seen most often from the lighthouse car park at Cape Point).

High summer can be a lean time for birding, particularly when a southeaster is blowing. This is one of the windiest places in Africa.

Cape Point map
Cape Point map

Cape of Good Hope beach - Mel Tripp
Cape of Good Hope beach – Mel Tripp

The park is part of the Table Mountain National Park, run and managed by SANParks.

An entry fee is payable, which is quite steep Adults R135 as at June 2017, valid Wild Card holders enter free.

See www.capepoint.co.za

 

Mel Tripp