In November 2018, I spent a few days birding in Cape Town, South Africa. While apparently not the safest of places, it is a great spot to see birds. Here are some of my sightings.

An absolute highlight were the African Penguins at Boulders Beach. The colony is a proper tourist attraction with an entrance fee and way too many people, but the penguins still make it worth going. The species is endangered – hopefully, their appeal to tourists and the resulting revenue will contribute to its protection.


The beaches further south of Boulders Beach are productive as well – I saw African Oystercatcher as well as that most typical beach wanderer, the Ostrich.

It can be argued that Cape Town is not the most imaginative of names for a town located at a cape (though fitting for a city in a country that is just named by a continent and a direction). The same limitation is obvious in the names of many of the bird species in this area. The basic idea seems to have been to just add the word “cape” to whatever seemed like a reasonable bird name. Fortunately, no species is just called “Cape Bird” but several other names are not much more imaginative: Cape Batis, Cape Bulbul, Cape Bunting, Cape Robin Chat, Cape Rock Jumper, Cape Sugarbird, and many more.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is a great place to watch birds in Cape Town. It is quite large and has a huge variety of plants. Some of them are usually blossoming, attracting sunbirds such as the Southern Double-collared Sunbird and the Orange-breasted Sunbird.

And it also is a very pleasant place to be. The resident pair of Spotted Eagle Owls and I agree on this.

Then there is the obligatory (for birders) trip to the water treatment plant – Strandfontein Sewer Works in the case of Cape Town. A great place to see even Greater Flamingos.

On the way back towards the center from there, a good place to stop is Rondevlei Nature Reserve with its Malachite Kingfisher. A slightly posher version of the kingfisher we have here in Shanghai.

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Written by Kai Pflug
Kai Pflug is a German who has been living in Shanghai for the last 15 years, and who only became interested in birds in China – so he is much more familiar with birds in China than with those in Germany. While only an average birder, he aims to be a good bird photographer and has created a website with bird photos as proof. He hopes not too many clients of his consulting company read this blog, as they will doubt his dedication to providing consulting services related to China`s chemical industry. Whenever he wants to shock other birders, he tells them his (indoor) cats can distinguish several warblers by taste.