Cape Peninsula – Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve

About the Birding

Starting at the entrance gate (-34.2617, 18.4581), birding stops anywhere along the roads within the park can produce fynbos species such as Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Sugarbird. The rocky slopes on the right on the road before the Olifantsbos turnoff are worth checking for Cape, and Sentinel Rock Thrushes. Cape Siskins and Ground Woodpeckers can also be found in more rocky areas.

Cape Point itself is situated at the end of the major spine road that runs the length of the park. It can be very busy with tourists, but the cliff paths and the lighthouse viewing points overlook a large cliffside breeding colony of Cape Cormorants. There is also a resident pair of Peregrine Falcons that can be seen flying around the cliff faces. Cape Siskin can be found in this area – look for them in the scrub in rocky areas.

Close to Cape Point is the famed Cape of Good Hope. From the junction (-34.3374, 18.4648), follow the road that drops down to the coast, and ending at the large parking lot. This area is home to a sizable seabird roost in summer. Kelp, and Hartlaub’s Gulls, and Common, Sandwich and Swift (Great Crested) Terns can all be found. Search the adjacent rocky shoreline for Cape, White-breasted, Crowned, and occasionally Bank Cormorants. African Oystercatcher is also common.

The western Atlantic coastline is an excellent place to do land-based sea-watching. The winter months are best, as the strong cold fronts push in a good variety of pelagic species. Shy and Black-browed Albatrosses, both Northern and Southern Giant Petrels, Subantarctic Skua, as well as White-chinned Petrel and Sooty Shearwater are all regular. In summer, Cape Gannets, Cory’s Shearwater, Parasitic Jaeger and Sabine’s Gull can be seen. The best viewing spots include the viewpoints at Cape Point, Gifkommetjie (-34.3173, 18.4202), Platboom (-34.3340, 18.4488) as well as the road down to the Cape of Good Hope. A scope is generally required for the best views of pelagic birds.

In areas of coastal thicket around the visitor centre (-34.3130, 18.4492) and Buffels Bay picnic sites (-34.3211, 18.4601) one can find Southern Boubou, Sombre Greenbul, Fiscal Flycatcher and Cape Grassbird. Look in areas of flowering plants, especially Proteas and Ericas, to find Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted, Malachite and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds. Yellow Bishop can be found in damp, or marshy areas.

A drive around the circular loop can produce Grey-backed Cisticola, Karoo Prinia, Plain-backed Pipit and Cape Longclaw. Common Ostrich are often seen here, and it is a good place to look for some of the large mammals present in the reserve. Eland, Bontebok, Cape Mountain Zebra can be seen and are present throughout the reserve. Fynbos Buttonquail does occur in the area in very low numbers, and have been seen running across the road here and along the gravel cycle path near Sirkelsvlei. Please note: the public is strictly prohibited from leaving any designated road or trail.

Olifantsbos beach (-34.2589, 18.3822) is good for African Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers, and in summer Eurasian Whimbrels and Ruddy Turnstones can be seen. There is often a large tern roost that hosts Swift (Great Crested), Sandwich and Common Terns. Look for Cape, White-breasted, Crowned and, occasionally, Bank Cormorants on the exposed rocks. This area has a history of turning up rare waders such as American and Pacific Golden Plovers, so pay closer attention to any odd looking birds. Plain-backed Pipit has been recorded foraging along the beach but is more regular along the access road, especially in open habitats. The scrub around the parking lot holds Cape Grassbird, Bokmakierie, Cape Bunting and Familiar Chat. Common Ostrich is unmissable both here and elsewhere.

Key species:

Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Siskin, Crowned Cormorant, Bank Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, several species of coastal and pelagic seabirds

About the Birding Site

Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve is a world-famous tourist attraction situated at the tip of the Cape Peninsula. Better known for its scenic and dramatic views, this southerly section of greater Table Mountain National Park, also offers good birding.

Although the birdlife can appear to be sparse, especially on windy summer days, several Fynbos and regional specials can be found. In addition to Fynbos birding, the park’s extensive rocky shores, beaches, sea cliffs, coastal thickets all offer worthwhile birding opportunities. Productive sea-watching is also possible.

Key species:

Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Siskin, Crowned Cormorant, Bank Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, several species of coastal and pelagic seabirds

Other Related Information

Entrance gate: -34.2613, 18.4572

Admission fees: South African residents (with ID) pay R85 for adults and R40 for children.
SADC (Southern African Development Community) countries (with passport) will have to pay R170 for adults and R40 for children.
Other countries will be charged R340 for adults and R170 for children.
Wild Cards accepted.

A map is downloadable at https://www.sanparks.org/assets/docs/parks_table_mountain/cape-point-brochure.pdf

Key species:

Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Cape Siskin, Crowned Cormorant, Bank Cormorant, Cape Cormorant, several species of coastal and pelagic seabirds

Contact details:

Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre
Tel: +27 (0)21 712 7471

SANparks
Website: www.sanparks.org/parks/table_mountain/tourism/attractions.php#goodhope

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