Provisional list of bird species recorded in the Langeberg region

We encourage all birders in the region to inform Anton at birding@overberg.co.za or Whatsapp at 082 550 3347 of additional species encountered.

Apalis, Bar-Throated/ Bandkeelkleinjantjie
Avocet, Pied/ Bontelsie
Barbet, Acacia Pied/ Bonthoutkapper
Batis, Cape/ Kaapse Bosbontrokkie
Batis, Pririt/ Priritbosbontrokkie
Bee-Eater, European/ Europese Byvreter
Bishop, Southern Red/ Rooivink
Bishop, Yellow / Kaapse Flap
Bittern, Little/ Kleinrietreier
Bokmakierie
Boubou, Southern/ Suidelike Waterfiskaal
Bulbul, Cape/ Kaapse Tiptol
Bunting, Cape/ Rooivlerkstreepkoppie
Bunting, Cinnamon-Breasted/ Klipstreepkoppie
Bunting, Lark-Like/ Vaalstreepkoppie
Bustard, Denham’s/ Veldpou
Buzzard, Common/ Bruinjakkalsvoël
Buzzard, Forest/ Bosjakkalsvoël
Buzzard, Jackal/ Rooiborsjakkalsvoël
Canary, Black-Headed/ Swartkopkanarie
Canary, Brimstone/ Dikbekkanarie
Canary, Cape/ Kaapse Kanarie
Canary, Forest/ Gestreepte Kanarie
Canary, Protea/ Witvlerkkanarie
Canary, White-Throated/ Witkeelkanarie
Canary, Yellow/ Geelkanarie
Chat, Ant-Eating/ Swartpiek
Chat, Familiar/ Gewone Spekvreter
Chat, Karoo/ Karoospekvreter
Chat, Sickle-Winged/ Vlaktespekvreter
Cisticola, Cloud/ Gevlekte Klopkloppie
Cisticola, Levaillant’s/ Vleitintinkie
Cisticola, Grey-Backed/ Grysrugtinktinkie
Cisticola, Zitting/ Landeryklopkloppie
Coot, Red-Knobbed/ Bleshoender
Cormorant, Reed/ Rietduiker
Cormorant, White-Breasted/ Witborsduiker
Coucal, Burchell’s/ Gewone Vleiloerie
Crake, Black/ Swartriethaan
Crane, Blue/ Bloukraanvoël
Crombec, Long-Billed/ Bosveldstompstert
Crow, Cape/ Swartkraai
Crow, Pied/ Witborskraai
Cuckoo, Black/ Swartkoekoek
Cuckoo, Diderick/ Diederikkie
Cuckoo, Jacobin/ Bontnuwejaarsvoël
Cuckoo, Klaas’s/ Meitjie
Cuckoo, Red-Chested/ Piet-My-Vrou
Cuckooshrike, Grey/ Bloukatakoeroe
Darter, African/ Slanghalsvoël
Dove, Laughing/ Rooiborsduifie
Dove, Namaqua/ Namakwaduifie
Dove, Red-Eyed/ Grootringduif
Dove, Ring-Necked/Gewone Tortelduif
Dove, Rock/ Tuinduif
Dove, Tambourine/ Witborsduifie
Drongo, Fork-Tailed/ Mikstertbyvanger
Duck, African Black/ Swarteend
Duck, Maccoa/ Bloubekeend
Duck, Yellow-Billed/ Geelbekeend
Eagle, African Fish-/ Visarend
Eagle, Booted/ Dwergarend
Eagle, Martial/ Breëkoparend
Eagle, Black-Chested Snake/ Swartborsslangarend
Eagle, Brown Snake-/ Bruinslangarend
Eagle, Verreaux’s/ Witkruisarend
Egret, Intermediate (Yellow-Billed)/ Geelbekwitreier
Egret, Great/ Grootwitreier
Egret, Little/ Kleinwitreier
Egret, Western Cattle/ Bosluisvoël
Eremomela, Karoo/ Groenbossanger
Eremomela, Yellow-Bellied/ Geelpensbossanger
Falcon, Lanner/ Edelvalk
Falcon, Peregrine/ Swerfvalk
Finfoot, African/ Watertrapper
Firefinch, Red-Billed/ Rooibekvuurvinkie
Fiscal, Common/ Fiskaallaksman
Flufftail, Red-Chested/ Rooiborsvleikuiken
Flycatcher, African Dusky/ Donkervlieëvanger
Flycatcher, African Paradise-/ Paradysvlieëvanger
Flycatcher, Fairy/ Feevlieëvanger)
Flycatcher, Fiscal/ Fiskaalvlieëvanger
Flycatcher, Spotted/ Europese Vlieëvanger
Francolin, Grey-Winged/ Bergpatrys
Goose, Egyptian/ Kolgans
Goose, Spur-Winged/ Wildemakou
Goshawk, African/ Afrikaanse Sperwer
Goshawk, Gabar/ Witkruissperwer
Goshawk, Southern Pale Chanting/ Bleeksingvalk
Grassbird, Cape/ Grasvoël

Grebe, Black-Necked/ Swartnekdobbertjie
Grebe, Great Crested/ Kuifkopdobbertjie
Grebe, Little/ Kleindobbertjie
Greenbul, Sombre/ Gewone Willie
Greenshank, Common/ Groenpootruiter
Guineafowl, Helmeted/Gewone Tarentaal
Gull, Grey-Headed/ Gryskopmeeu
Hamerkop
Harrier, African Marsh-/Afrikaanse Vleivalk
Harrier, Black/ Witkruisvleivalk
Harrier-Hawk, African (Gymnogene)/ Kaalwangvalk
Heron-Night, Black-Crowned/Gewone Nagreier
Heron, Black-Headed/ Swartkopreier
Heron, Goliath/ Reusereier
Heron, Grey/ Bloureier
Heron, Purple/ Rooireier
Heron, Squacco/ Ralreier
Hobby, Eurasian/ Europese Boomvalk
Honeybird, Brown-Backed/ Skerpbekheuningvoël
Honeyguide, Greater/ Grootheuningwyser
Honeyguide, Lesser/ Kleinheuningwyser
Hoopoe, African/ Hoephoep
Ibis, African Sacred/ Skoorsteenveër
Ibis, Glossy/ Glansibis
Ibis, Hadeda/ Hadeda
Jacana, African/ Grootlangtoon
Kestrel, Lesser/ Kleinrooivalk
Kestrel, Rock/ Kransvalk
Kingfisher, Brown-Hooded/ Bruinkopvisvanger
Kingfisher, Half-Collared/ Blouvisvanger
Kingfisher, Giant/ Reusevisvanger
Kingfisher, Malachite/ Kuifkopvisvanger
Kingfisher, Pied/ Bontvisvanger
Kite, Black-Winged/ Blouvalk
Kite, Yellow-Billed/ Geelbekwou
Korhaan, Karoo/ Vaalkorhaan
Korhaan, Southern Black/Swartvlerkkorhaan
Lapwing, Blacksmith/ Bontkiewiet
Lapwing, Crowned/Kroonkiewiet
Lark, Agulhas Long-Billed/ Overberglangbeklewerik
Lark, Cape Clapper/ Kaapse Klappertjie
Lark, Karoo/ Karoolewerik
Lark, Karoo Long-Billed/ Karoolangbeklewerik
Lark, Large-Billed/ Dikbeklewerik
Lark, Red-Capped/ Rooikoplewerik
Longclaw, Cape/ Oranjekeelkalkoentjie
Martin, Brown-Throated/ Afrikaanse Oewerswael
Martin, Banded/ Gebande Oewerswael
Martin, Common House-/ Huisswael
Martin, Rock/ Kransswael
Martin, Sand/ Europese Oewerswael
Moorhen, Common/ Grootwaterhoender
Mousebird, Red-Faced/ Rooiwangmuisvoël
Mousebird, Speckled/ Gevlekte Muisvoël
Mousebird, White-Backed/ Witkruismuisvoël
Neddicky/ Neddikkie
Nightjar, Fiery-Necked/ Afrikaanse Naguil
Nightjar, Freckled/ Donkernaguil
Nightjar, Rufous-Cheeked/ Rooiwangnaguil
Oriole, Eurasian Golden/ Europese Wielewaal
Osprey, Western/ Visvalk
Ostrich, Common/ Volstruis
Owl, African Wood/ Bosuil
Owl, Barn/ Nonnetjie-Uil
Owl, Cape Eagle-/ Kaapse Ooruil
Owl, Spotted Eagle-/ Gevlekte Ooruil
Peafowl, Common/ Gewone Pou
Penduline-Tit, Cape/ Kaapse Kapokvoël
Phalarope, Red/ Grysfraiingpoot
Pigeon, African Olive-/Geelbekbosduif
Pigeon, Speckled/ Kransduif
Pipit, African/ Gewone Koester
Pipit, African Rock/ Klipkoester
Pipit, Long-Billed/ Nicholsonse Koester
Pipit, Plain-Backed/ Donkerkoester
Plover, Common Ringed/ Ringnekstrandloper
Plover, Kittlitz’s/ Geelborsstrandkiewiet
Plover, Three-Banded/Driebandstrandkiewiet
Pochard, Southern/ Bruineend
Prinia, Karoo/ Karoolangstertjie
Quail, Common/ Afrikaanse Kwartel
Quelea, Red-Billed/ Rooibekkwelea
Rail, African/ Grootriethaan
Raven, White-Necked/ Withalskraai
Robin-Chat, Cape/ Gewone Janfrederik
Robin, Karoo Scrub-/ Slangverklikker
Rock-Jumper, Cape/ Kaapse Berglyster
Rock-Thrush, Cape/ Kaapse Kliplyster

Rock-Thrush, Sentinel/ Langtoonkliplyster
Roller, European/ Europese Troupand
Ruff/ Kemphaan

Sandgrouse, Namaqua / Kelkiewyn
Sandpiper, Common/ Gewone Ruiter
Sandpiper, Curlew/ Krombekstrandloper
Sandpiper, Marsh/ Moerasruiter
Sandpiper, Wood/ Bosruiter
Saw-Wing, Black/ Swartsaagvlerkswael
Secretarybird/ Sekretarisvoël
Seedeater, Streaky-Headed/ Streepkopkanarie
Shelduck, South African/ Kopereend
Shoveler, Cape/ Kaapse Slopeend
Shrike, Olive Bush-, Olyfboslaksman
Shrike, Red-Backed/ Rooiruglaksman
Siskin, Cape/ Kaapse Pietjiekanarie
Snipe, African/ Afrikaanse Snip
Snipe, Greater Painted/ Goudsnip
Sparrow, Cape/ Gewone Mossie
Sparrow, House/ Huismossie
Sparrow, Southern Grey-Headed/ (Suidelike) Gryskopmossie
Sparrowhawk, Black/ Swartsperwer
Sparrowhawk, Rufous-Chested/ Rooiborssperwer
Sparrowlark, Grey-Backed/ Grysruglewerik
Spoonbill, African/ Lepelaar
Spurfowl, Cape/ Kaapse Fisant
Starling, Common/ Europese Spreeu
Starling, Pale-Winged/ Witvlerkspreeu
Starling, Pied/ Witgatspreeu
Starling, Red-Winged/ Rooivlerkspreeu
Starling, Wattled/ Lelspreeu
Stilt, Black-Winged/ Rooipootelsie
Stint, Little/ Kleinstrandloper
Stonechat, African/ Gewone Bontrokkie
Stork, Black/ Grootswartooievaar
Stork, White/ Witooievaar
Stork, Yellow-Billed/ Nimmersat
Sugarbird, Cape/ Kaapse Suikervoël
Sunbird, Amethyst/Swartsuikerbekkie
Sunbird, Dusky/ Namakwasuikerbekkie
Sunbird, Greater Double-Collared/ Groot-Rooibandsuikerbekkie
Sunbird, Malachite/ Jangroentjie
Sunbird, Orange-Breasted/ Oranjeborssuikerbekkie
Sunbird, Southern Double-Collared/ Klein-Rooibandsuikerbekkie
Swallow, Barn/ Europese Swael
Swallow, Greater Striped/ Grootstreepswael
Swallow , Pearl-Breasted/ Pêrelborsswael
Swallow, White-Throated/ Witkeelswael
Swamphen, African Purple/ Grootkoningriethaan
Swift, African Black/ Swartwindswael
Swift, African Palm/ Palmwindswael
Swift, Alpine/ Witpenswindswael
Swift, Common/ Europese Windswael
Swift, Horus/ Horuswindswael
Swift, Little/ Kleinwindswael
Swift, White-Rumped/ Witkruiswindswael
Tchagra, Southern/ Grysborstjagra
Teal, Cape/ Teeleend
Teal, Red-Billed/ Rooibekeend
Tern, Whiskered/ Witbaardsterretjie
Tern, White-Winged/ Witvlerksterretjie
Thick-Knee, Spotted/ Gewone Dikkop
Thick-Knee, Water/ Waterdikkop
Thrush, Karoo/ Geelbeklyster
Thrush, Olive/ Olyflyster
Tit, Grey/ Piet-Tjou-Tjou-Grysmees
Vulture, Cape/ Kransaasvoël
Wagtail, Cape/ Gewone Kwikkie
Warbler, African Reed-/ Kleinrietsanger
Warbler, Chestnut-Vented (Tit-Babbler)/ Bosveldtjeriktik
Warbler, Layard’s (Tit-Babbler)/ Grystjeriktik
Warbler, Lesser Swamp-/ Kaapse Rietsanger
Warbler , Little Rush-/ Kaapse Vleisanger
Warbler, Namaqua/ Namakwalangstertjie
Warbler, Rufous-Eared/ Rooioorlangstertjie
Warbler, Victorin’s/ Rooiborsruigtesanger
Warbler, Willow/ Hofsanger
Waxbill, Common/ Rooibeksysie
Waxbill, Swee/ Suidelike Swie
Weaver, Cape/ Kaapse Wewer
Weaver, Southern Masked-/ Swartkeelgeelvink
Wheatear, Capped/ Hoëveldskaapwagter
Wheatear, Mountain/ Bergwagter
White-Eye, Cape/ Kaapse Glasogie
Whydah, Pin-Tailed/ Koningrooibekkie
Woodpecker, Cardinal/ Kardinaalspeg
Woodpecker, Ground/ Grondspeg
Woodpecker, Knysna/ Knysnaspeg
Woodpecker, Olive/ Gryskopspeg

The endemic and near-endemic bird species of the Langeberg region

Many visitors to the Langeberg local municipal area (sometimes referred to as the Central Cape Valley for marketing purposes) are attracted by the diversity of endemic and near-endemic bird species to be found in the region. Endemism refers to species that are restricted to a certain region and that can be found nowhere else in the world. Southern Africa is fortunate to have a high level of endemism in all forms of life and South Africa, as a country, is considered by some to be the third most biologically diverse country in the world. Amazingly at least 56 of the southern Africa’s 94 endemic bird species and 22 of the 61 near- endemic species are found in the Langeberg region. With these 78 species alone the region boasts more endemic birds than most countries have to offer. A further advantage is that most of these species are often fairly easily accessible. The development of these web pages is a further attempt to assist visiting birders to gain easier access to many of the region’s special species.

Stereotypically most people believe that the “Cape endemics” mostly consist of birds associated with the Cape Floral Kingdom. This “kingdom” with 9 000 plant species (almost 70% of which are endemic), ranks among the wonders of the natural world. Several exciting and often endemic bird species are found in this habitat type and can be tracked down relatively easily in several different localities spread throughout the Langeberg region. Most of these birding destinations are readily accessible and often feature dramatic Fynbos and mountain landscapes. Top destinations for these “fynbos specials” include the Dassieshoek Nature Reserve at Robertson, applicable habitats in  the Rooiberg conservancy, the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve near McGregor, the Fish Eagle hiking trail at Van Loveren Family Vineyards, the Montagu Mountain Reserve and several privately owned properties throughout the region, to mention a few. Entrance to these reserves is often free or available at a minimal cost. The endemic birds associated with these fynbos habitats are the SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN, PROTEA SEEDEATER, CAPE SISKIN, CAPE SUGARBIRD, ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD and VICTORIN’S WARBLER.  Records of the CAPE ROCKJUMPER, BirdLife South Africa’s bird of the year 2021, have also been noted.

The crowning glory of bird-watching opportunities in the Langeberg region however relates to the large number of endemic and near-endemic species usually associated with arid Karoo habitats and landscapes. The popular destinations for local and international birders to look for these species are the Karoo national Park and the Tankwa Karoo, but pristine natural habitats in the Langeberg region offer several of these species in much closer proximity to Cape Town and the Overberg. Here the ANT-EATING, KAROO and SICKLE-WINGED CHATS, KAROO EREMOMELA, KAROO, KAROO LONG-BILLED and SPIKE-HEELED LARKS and NAMAQUA SANDGROUSE, as well as the NAMAQUA and RUFOUS-EARED WARBLERS serve as excellent examples.

The region’s impressive list of endemics does, however, not end there. Species that prefer more mountainous and hilly habitats include JACKAL BUZZARD, GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, CAPE ROCKJUMPER, CAPE and SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSHES and GROUND WOODPECKER.  Look for these species at locations scattered throughout the magnificent Langeberg mountain range. Endemics or near-endemics attracted to forests or thickets include CAPE and PRIRIT BATIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, OLIVE BUSH SHRIKE, FOREST BUZZARD, FAIRY FLYCATCHER, CAPE PENDULINE-TIT, KAROO PRINIA and SOUTHERN TCHAGRA. The top spots where these species might be found in the Langeberg region include the Dassieshoek and Vrolijkheid Nature Reserves, many areas in the Klaasvoogds region, Kogmanskloof and a variety of destinations along the Breede River.

Many birders are amazed to find that several fairly common species often found in gardens throughout the region are also endemic or near-endemic. These include species such as the BOKMAKIERIE, CAPE BULBUL, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, CAPE SPARROW, CAPE SPURFOWL, SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD, SWEE WAXBILL, CAPE WEAVER and CAPE WHITE-EYE. And then other species such as GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, CAPE GRASSBIRD, BLACK HARRIER, CAPE LONGCLAW, SOUTH AFRICAN SHELDUCK and CAPE SHOVELER have not even been mentioned yet. To crown it all, this list is by no means comprehensive.

The species mentioned are hugely sought-after by birders from other provinces and countries and form the backbone of marketing efforts to attract bird-watchers to the area. The Western Cape Province in general and the Langeberg region in particular has limitless potential for attracting South African and international bird-watchers to the area due to the huge number of endemic species found here. Also keep in mind that several other species that are resident throughout the year, rare and vagrant species that are recorded regularly and a range of summer migrants also attract huge interest in birding circles. This web page, developed by members of BirdLife Overberg, is an attempt to help realise this vast potential.

Herewith the minimum lists of endemic and near-endemic species recorded in the Langeberg region.

BIRD SPECIES OF THE LANGEBERG REGION ENDEMIC OR NEAR-ENDEMIC TO SOUTHERN AFRICA These lists are arranged alphabetically according to family name:

BIRD SPECIES OF THE LANGEBERG REGION ENDEMIC TO SOUTHERN AFRICA

Cape Batis (Kaapse Bosbontrokkie)

Southern Boubou (Suidelike Waterfiskaal)

Cape Bulbul (Kaapse Tiptol)

Fynbos Buttonquail (Kaapse Kwarteltjie) (Appropriate habitats – no confirmed sightings yet)

Forest Buzzard (Bosjakkalsvoël)

Jackal Buzzard (Rooiborsjakkalsvoël)

Black-headed Canary (Swartkopkanarie)

Cape Canary (Kaapse Kanarie)

Forest Canary (Gestreepte Kanarie)

Ant-eating Chat (Swartpiek)

Sickle-winged Chat (Vlaktespekvreter)

Blue Crane (Bloukraanvoël)

Karoo Eremomela (Groenbossanger)

Fairy Flycatcher (Feevlieëvanger)

Fiscal Flycatcher (Fiskaalvlieëvanger)

Grey-winged Francolin (Bergpatrys)

Cape Grassbird (Grasvoël)

Black Harrier (Witkruisvleivalk)

Karoo Korhaan (Karookorhaan)

Southern Black Korhaan (Swartvlerkkorhaan)

Agulhas Long-billed Lark (Overberglangbeklewerik)

Cape Clapper Lark (Kaapse Klappertjie)

Karoo Lark (Karoolewerik)

Karoo Long-billed Lark (Karoolangbeklewerik)

Large-billed Lark (Dikbeklewerik)

Cape Longclaw (Oranjekeelkalkoentjie)

White-backed Mousebird (Witkruismuisvoël)

African Rock Pipit (Klipkoester)

Karoo Prinia (Karoolangstertjie)

 Cape Rockjumper (Kaapse Berglyster)

 Cape Rock Thrush (Kaapse Kliplyster)

 Sentinel Rock Thrush (Langtoonkliplyster)

 Karoo Scrub-Robin (Slangverklikker)

 Protea Seedeater (Witvlerkkanarie)

 South African Shelduck (Kopereend)

 Cape Shoveler (Kaapse Slopeend)

 Cape Siskin (Kaapse Pietjiekanarie)

Cape Spurfowl  (Kaapse Fisant)

Pied Starling (Witgatspreeu)

Cape Sugarbird (Kaapse Suikervoël)

Greater Double-collared Sunbird (Groot-rooibandsuikerbekkie)

Orange-breasted Sunbird (Oranjeborssuikerbekkie)

Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Klein-rooibandsuikerbekkie)

Southern Tchagra (Grysborstjagra)

Karoo Thrush (Geelbeklyster)

Grey Tit (Piet-tjou-tjou-grysmees)

Cape Vulture (Kransaasvoël) (Historical records)

Layard’s Warbler (Grystjeriktik)

Namaqua Warbler (Namakwalangstertjie)

Rufous-eared Warbler (Rooioorlangstertjie)

Victorin’s Warbler (Rooiborsruigtesanger)

Swee Waxbill (Suidelike Swie)

Cape Weaver (Kaapse Wewer)

Cape White-eye (Kaapse Glasogie)

Ground Woodpecker (Grondspeg)

 Knysna Woodpecker (Knysnaspeg) (Historical records

BIRD SPECIES OF THE LANGEBERG REGION NEAR-ENDEMIC TO SOUTHERN AFRICA

Acacia Pied Barbet (Bonthoutkapper)

Pririt Batis (Priritbosbontrokkie)

Bokmakierie

Cape Bunting (Rooivlerkstreepkoppie)

Lark-like Bunting (Vaalstreepkoppie)

Olive Bush Shrike (Olyfboslaksman)

White-throated Canary (Witkeelkanarie)

Yellow Canary (Geelkanarie)

Karoo Chat (Karoospekvreter)

Cloud Cisticola (Gevlekte Klopkloppie)

Grey-backed Cisticola (Grysrugtinktinkie)

Burchell’s Coucal (Gewone Vleiloerie)

 Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk (Bleeksingvalk)

 Spike-heeled Lark (Vlaktelewerik)

 Cape Penduline-tit (Kaapse Kapokvoël)

 Namaqua Sandgrouse (Kelkiewyn)

 Cape Sparrow (Gewone Mossie)

 Grey-backed Sparrow-Lark (Grysruglewerik)

 Pale-winged Starling (Bleekvlerkspreeu)

 Dusky Sunbird (Namakwasuikerbekkie)

Chestnut-vented Warbler (Bosveld-tjeriktik)

Mountain Wheatear (Bergwagter)

Birding along the gravel and dirt roads in the Langeberg region

INTRODUCTION
There are many outstanding bird-watching opportunities along the various gravel and dirt roads scattered throughout the Langeberg local municipal region. This is a generic introductory overview to give visitors an idea of some of the birds to be expected in various habitat types. The description of species abundance is based on findings in SABAP2 (the bird atlas project) report cards and field visits throughout the region. The detailed descriptions of three specific bird-watching destinations and sites, as well specific roads and routes that will follow later should give visitors guidance on where to look for specific species. Keep in mind however that several other roads offering excellent birding opportunities are available in the region.

The Langeberg region has been modified through agricultural activities and rambling country roads thread their way through a variety of landscapes. Monoculture landscapes are often present and one would think that this do not support good birding-watching. This is however certainly not the case. Many of these country roads can be used very effectively for fantastic birding when travelling between local towns and specific top bird-watching destinations. Small pockets of remnant Fynbos and renosterveld and indigenous forest and mountain habitats, as well as open water also increase the species diversity of the area.

LITTLE BROWN JOBS
The Langeberg region is probably one of the best areas where birders can practice their identification skills on so-called Little Brown Jobs (LBJs) in close proximity to Cape Town. Many of the canaries, chats, cisticolas, larks and pipits to be found in the Western Cape Province are available here. An added advantage is that many of the gravel roads can be travelled safely and at leisure in an area hugely underrated for its outstanding landscape and wildlife photographic opportunities. This affords locals the chance to compare the difficult LBJs of the region and visitors the opportunity to find several of the region’s many endemic species.

The CAPE CANARY, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER and CAPE SISKIN are abundant, with BRIMSTONE, WHITE-THROATED and YELLOW CANARIES less so. Two endemic species are however the star attractions: The BLACK-HEADED CANARY usually associated with the Greater Karoo is present in the Montagu district, while the PROTEA SEEDEATER (a habitat specialist) has been recorded at a few specific sites.

The LEVAILLANT’S CISTICOLA is very common close to water, while GREY-BACKED and ZITTING CISTICOLAS can be found fairly easily while travelling towards the top of inclines. All three these species are very vocal during breeding season in spring and early summer and their breeding displays a highlight of bird-watching in the region. Observant birders may even find the diminutive CLOUD CISTICOLA closer to the top of hills. The LARGE-BILLED and RED-CAPPED LARKS are very common in most areas, with smaller numbers of CAPE CLAPPER LARK being present. Most birders believe that the regionally threatened AGULHAS LONG-BILLED LARK has its global distribution range restricted to the wheatbelt areas between Caledon and Mossel Bay, but increasing reports of this hugely sought-after species are being received from the southern sections of the Langeberg region. The KAROO LARK and KAROO LONG-BILLED LARK are also recorded occasionally in the areas closer to the Karoo proper in the Montagu district. The most numerous pipit is undoubtedly the AFRICAN PIPIT, while LONG-BILLED and PLAIN-BACKED PIPITS and CAPE LONGCLAW are present in significantly smaller numbers. Surprisingly the AFRICAN ROCK PIPIT, usually associated with rocky habitats at higher altitudes has also been recorded. Other abundant species to take note of in this regard include the KAROO PRINIA, AFRICAN STONECHAT and CAPPED WHEATEAR. The Langeberg region should be regarded as one of the best areas in the Western Cape where visitors can systematically observe and learn to identify the LBJs of the region and birding here is recommended strongly. It is significant to note that many of these LBJs are endemic, thus increasing their popularity with visiting birders.

OTHER COMMON AND SPECIAL SPECIES
The impressive list of species found in the Langeberg region does however not end with the LBJs discussed above. Visitors can look forward to finding a range of common endemic or near-endemic species along these roads, such as the BOKMAKIERIE, CAPE BULBUL, CAPE CROW, FISCAL FLYCATCHERS, WHITE-BACKED MOUSEBIRD, CAPE SPARROW, PIED STARLING, CAPE WEAVER and CAPE WHITE-EYE. Endemics or near-endemics found less often along these gravel roads include the SOUTHERN BOUBOU, FAIRY FLYCATCHER, CAPE SPURFOWL, SOUTHERN and GREATER DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRDS and SWEE WAXBILL. Other fairly common resident species include the BLACK-HEADED HERON, SOUTHERN RED and YELLOW BISHOPS, FORK-TAILED DRONGO, CAPE ROBIN-CHAT and MALACHITE SUNBIRD. BROWN-THROATED and ROCK MARTINS occur throughout the year and SOUTHERN MASKED WEAVERS and PIN-TAILED WHYDAHSare not as common in the area. RED-BILLED QUELEAS are also found as visitors and sightings of this species are on the increase. To this should be added a few species that have only arrived in this part of the Western Cape in fairly recent decades. Here the NAMAQUA DOVE, BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER, SOUTHERN GREY-HEADED SPARROW and AMETHYST SUNBIRD serve as examples.

BIRDS ASSOCIATED WITH OPEN WATER

The Langeberg region hosts the Breede River and a variety of farm dams and wetlands where huge numbers of water birds are often present. During wet spells in winter and early spring a huge influx of waterfowl are regularly reported. The YELLOW-BILLED DUCK, EGYPTIAN and SPUR-WINGED GEESE, THREE-BANDED PLOVER and CAPE SHOVELER are abundant throughout the region, with AFRICAN BLACK DUCK, SOUTH AFRICAN SHELDUCK, CAPE and RED-BILLED TEALS also being particularly numerous at stages.

The HAMERKOP, AFRICAN SACRED IBIS, AFRICAN SPOONBILL, SPOTTED and WATER THICK-KNEES are common throughout the year, as areREED and WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANTS, GREY HERON and BLACKSMITH LAPWING. RED-KNOBBED COOTS are very common, with BLACK CRAKE and COMMON MOORHEN less so. Species encountered far less often include the AFRICAN DARTER, LITTLE EGRET, LITTLE GREBE, PURPLE HERON, GLOSSY IBIS and GIANT, MALACHITE and PIED KINGFISHERS and KITTLITZ’S PLOVER. GREATER FLAMINGOS are nomadic in the region and LESSER FLAMINGOS are recorded in significantly smaller numbers and only occasionally.

The BURCHELL’S COUCAL, BAILLON’S CRAKE, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT HERON, AFRICAN SNIPE and AFRICAN PURPLE SWAMPHEN are present, but are difficult to find due to their secretive behaviour and habitat preferences. Species that have arrived in the Western Cape Province fairly recently and are present in small numbers include the KNOB-BILLED, MACCOA, WHITE-BACKED and WHITE-FACED DUCKS, YELLOW-BILLED EGRET and SOUTHERN POCHARD.

BIRDS OF PREY
In this regard BLACK HARRIER and CAPE VULTURE are certainly the star attractions in the Langeberg region, even though very few records of the latter have been found. The JACKAL BUZZARD, SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL, AFRICAN FISH EAGLE, BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE and WESTERN BARN OWL are very common throughout the region. The AFRICAN MARSH HARRIER is locally fairly common, but has very specific habitat requirements. SOUTHERN PALE CHANTING GOSHAWK numbers are increasing as more sightings are being received. The FOREST BUZZARD is present near exotic plantations and remnant patches of indigenous forests and common hawks to be expected in and around similar habitat types are the AFRICAN GOSHAWK, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK and BLACK SPARROWHAWK. Only a few records of GABAR GOSHAWK and RUFOUS-CHESTED SPARROWHAWK have been noted. In summer expect to find good numbers of STEPPE BUZZARDS and YELLOW-BILLED KITES, while smallish flocks of LESSER KESTRELS are on record. A few sightings of the globally threatened MARTIAL EAGLE, as well as the similar looking BLACK-CHESTED SNAKE EAGLE are on record. There is concern about SECRETARYBIRD as it appears as if its distribution range is shrinking and this species is spotted less frequently. This was one of the main reasons for this species being celebrated as BirdLife South Africa’s bird of the year during 2019. All birders are requested to report sightings and particularly breeding records of this species, together with GPS coordinates, to the researchers at BirdLife South Africa.


BIRDS OF MOUNTAINOUS HABITATS
The impressive mountain ranges of the region host a variety of species associated with such habitats and some of these often move around in the region. Regionally threatened species in this regard include the BLACK STORK and VERREAUX’S EAGLE. LANNER and PEREGRINE FALCONS are rare, but sometimes produce great photographic opportunities. The JACKAL BUZZARD is very common and BOOTED EAGLE and ROCK KESTREL are also seen fairly often. Rocky outcrops and other mountainous areas may produce other exciting species such as the CAPE BUNTING, GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN, CAPE GRASSBIRD, CAPE ROCKJUMPER, CAPE and SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSHES, LAYARD’S WARBLER and GROUND WOODPECKER.

BIRDS ASSOCIATED WITH THICKETS AND FOREST PATCHES
The rank exotic vegetation along water courses, well wooded gardens and the few remaining patches of indigenous forests in the region bring a different suite of interesting species into play. It appears as if BAR-THROATED APALIS, CAPE BATIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, SOMBRE GREENBUL and CAPE ROBIN-CHAT are very common and sometimes even abundant in most of such habitats surveyed. The AFRICAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER is also very common in summer. Species that are found less commonly include the KLAAS’S CUCKOO, TAMBOURINE DOVE, KAROO SCRUB ROBIN, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER, GREY-HEADED SPARROW and CHESTNUT-VENTED WARBLER (previously called CHESTNUT-VENTED TIT-BABBLER). DIDERICK and RED-CHESTED CUCKOOS are very vocal during spring and early summer. Only a few records of ACACIA PIED BARBET, GREATER HONEYGUIDE and AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON have been noted.

THE FYNBOS ENDEMICS
Remnant patches of fynbos are sparsely scattered through the agriculture dominated farmlands of the Langeberg region. The CAPE SUGARBIRD, CAPE SISKIN and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD are common at such locations. The SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN is locally fairly common in areas where pristine patches of Renosterveld still occur. FYNBOS BUTTONQUAIL, CAPE ROCKJUMPER, PROTEA SEEDEATER and VICTORIN’S WARBLER all have very specific habitat requirements and extremely difficult to locate when travelling along gravel roads in the region. These four species are far more readily available in other areas in the region and it is recommended that specialist bird guides be consulted.

ENDEMICS ASSOCIATED WITH KAROO HABITATS

The crowning glory of bird-watching opportunities in the Langeberg region however relates to the large number of endemic and near-endemic species usually associated with arid Karoo habitats and landscapes. The popular destination for local and international birders to look for these species is the Tankwa Karoo, but pristine natural habitats in the Langeberg region offer several of these species in much closer proximity to Cape Town and the Overberg. The Montagu district is particularly good in this regard. Here the ANT-EATING, KAROO and SICKLE-WINGED CHATS, KAROO and YELLOW-BELLIED EREMOMELAS, KAROO, KAROO LONG-BILLED and SPIKE-HEELED LARKS and NAMAQUA SANDGROUSE, as well as the NAMAQUA and RUFOUS-EARED WARBLERS serve as excellent examples. Increasing records of PRIRIT BATIS, LARK-LIKE BUNTING, GREY-BACKED SPARROWLARK, DUSKY SUNBIRD and GREY TIT are also taken note of as more birders visit the region.

VAGRANTS

The Langeberg region further has the reputation for producing an increasing numbers of vagrant species, or species not on previous records that are now creating great interest in birding circles. Fairly recent records include species such as the CINNAMON-BREASTED BUNTING, JACOBIN CUCKOO, CHAT FLYCATCHER, GABAR GOSHAWK, STRIATED HERON, HALF-COLLARED KINGFISHER, AFRICAN ROCK PIPIT, EUROPEAN ROLLER, AFRICAN PALM SWIFT and KNYSNA WOODPECKER. Many experienced bird-watchers have expressed their complete surprise with the news of most of these species being recorded in the region. These vagrant sightings are however totally overshadowed by very recent sightings of the AFRICAN FINFOOT at Robertson and a RED PHALAROPE in the Montagu district! It is predicted that records of vagrant and rare species in the region will increase significantly as more birders visit the area and more local birders start reporting such sightings and contribute to the South African Bird Atlas Project.


CONCLUDING COMMENTS
Bird-watching opportunities in these magnificent rural landscapes are hugely underrated given the high levels of endemism in the region. Detailed descriptions of top birding spots along three selected rural roads will now be given.

(Note that there are links to more information, trip reports and the like below the photographs that may be used to further plan a visit to the area).

African Game Lodge

The African Game Lodge is a private reserve of some 4300ha that is reached from the Driekuilhoogte Road with the turn-off clearly signposted in the Ouberg Pass. (See detailed description of this road from Montagu elsewhere). Accommodation offered includes the lodge, as well as chalets and luxury tents. Breakfast and dinner is available, but needs to be requested upon booking. Most birders would probably prefer the self-catering option. The African Game Lodge welcomes guests for corporate getaways and conferences in a relaxed environment and is also a popular wedding venue. Available activities include game drives, mountain biking and hiking trails. There is no cell-phone signal at the lodge but there are high sites where signal can be obtained. A satellite phone is available at reception in case of emergencies. The reserve features pristine Karoo habitats with pockets of Fynbos and renosterveld and as such hosts an excellent diversity of game and bird species.

Bird-watching at the African Game lodge is however hugely underrated. Abundant, common species include WHITE-THROATED CANARY, FAMILIAR CHAT, LONG-BILLED CROMBEC, NAMAQUA DOVE, SOUTHERN FISCAL, CAPE ROBIN-CHAT, RED-WINGED STARLING and COMMON WAXBILL. Visiting birders will however be far more interested in the many endemic and near-endemic species on offer and here the BOKMAKIERIE, CAPE BULBUL, YELLOW CANARY, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, WHITE-BACKED MOUSEBIRD, CAPE SPARROW, CAPE SPURFOWL and PIED STARLING serve as excellent examples.  The SOUTHERN PALE CHANTING GOSHAWK can be located on any given day and both the KAROO and SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN may be found by observant and patient birders. Listen for the calls of FIERY-NECKED NIGHTJAR and SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL at night.

The main attraction from a birding perspective undoubtedly revolves around the diversity of so-called Little Brown Jobs (LBJs) species, many of which are endemic, that often present a major identification challenge to visiting bird-watchers. Species that are recorded regularly are the GREY-BACKED CISTICOLA, CAPE CLAPPER and LARGE-BILLED LARKS, KAROO PRINIA and KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN, with the CAPE PENDULINE TIT present in smaller numbers and more difficult to find. The crowning glory however relates to several species usually associated with typical arid Karoo landscapes further to the west. The presence of the BLACK-HEADED CANARY, KAROO and SICKLE-WINGED CHATS, KAROO EREMOMELA, KAROO, KAROO LONG-BILLED and SPIKE-HEELED LARKS, NAMAQUA SANDGROUSE, KAROO THRUSH and RUFOUS-EARED WARBLER alone make the African Game Lodge a worthwhile destination to investigate by discerning bird-watchers.

The well-wooded areas and thickets found at several spots in the reserve add another suite of species such as the BAR-THROATED APALIS, SOMBRE GREENBUL, SOUTHERN TCHAGRA, CHESTNUT-VENTED WARBLER, CAPE WHITE-EYE, CARDINAL WOODPECKER, as well as the hugely sought-after FAIRY FLYCATCHER. Rocky, mountainous areas further host the CAPE BUNTING, LAYARD’S WARBLER, MOUNTAIN WHEATEAR and GROUND WOODPECKER, with popular raptors such as the JACKAL BUZZARD and ROCK KESTREL, with both the BOOTED and VERREAUX’S EAGLES sometimes seen overhead. Waterbirds recorded very often are the EGYPTIAN GOOSE, GREAT CRESTED and LITTLE GREBES, GREY HERON, BLACKSMITH LAPWING, THREE-BANDED PLOVER and SOUTH AFRICAN SHELDUCK and in summer look out for the migratory WHISKERED TERN. To this should be added roughly 30 migratory species available during summer months. This brief description certainly illustrates that the African Game Lodge offers great bird-watching potential and certainly deserves investigation.

AFRICAN GAME LODGE CONTACT DETAILS:
GPS: 33º43’23.70″S / 20º21’07.84″E

LOCATION: Driekuilshoogte Road, Montagu District

WEBSITE: info@africangamelodge.co.za

TELEPHONE: +27 (0)23 614 3176