West Coast – Darling Hills Road

About the Birding

Just after turning off the R27/West Coast Road (-33.5001, 18.3329), stop and listen for the calls of Cape Clapper Lark, Southern Black Korhaan and Grey-winged Francolin. These calls will assist in locating these birds. Just before the turn in the road (-33.5126, 18.3527) look out for flocks of Wattled and Pied Starling. Watch for Capped Wheatear, Large-billed Lark and Red-capped Lark along the edge of the road and European Bee-eater, Banded Martin and Pearl-breasted Swallow on the wire fences in summer.

In the fields around the dam (-33.4935, 18.3439) look for Blue Crane. The dam can hold small numbers of water birds such as Cape and Red-billed Teal. As you drive down the road look out for Greater Honeyguide as it is sometimes seen near the gumtrees by the farm house (-33.4811, 18.3515).

The road passes through a large reed bed at (-33.4772, 18.3624). When this area has water, Red-chested Flufftail has been seen here. Follow the road down to where a stream runs underneath the road (-33.4748, 18.3662). African Spoonbill, Three-banded Plover and Blacksmith Lapwing are also possible. The surrounding vegetation supports Cardinal Woodpecker, White-backed Mousebird and Chestnut-vented Warbler. Diederick Cuckoo is sometimes seen in this vicinity.

On the way down the road keep a keen eye for raptors as this is an excellent road for Martial and Booted Eagle, Black-winged Kite and Jackal Buzzard. A less common but highly desired bird that can be seen is Black Harrier. Scan the electricity pylons (-33.4708, 18.3830) for roosting raptors, especially in the early morning and evening. This area has turned up several uncommon or local vagrants in the past few years.

At the Groote Post Winery, one can turn in and follow the road down to a bird hide (-33.4834, 18.4129). There is a Cape Weaver colony here, and Reed Cormorant, Cape Shoveler and Black Crake may be seen from the hide. Look in the scrub around the hide for Chestnut-vented Warbler and Long-billed Crombec.

On the later section of the road Namaqua Dove and Grey-backed Cisticola become common as the habitat becomes more open. Cape Spurfowl can be seen along the side of the road in the scrub. The road passes by a grove of gum trees at -33.4679, 18.3944. Look here for Fork-tailed Drongo and Lesser Honeyguide.

Key species:

Cape Clapper Lark, Southern Black Korhaan, Blue Crane, Martial Eagle, Black Harrier, Grey-winged Francolin, Blue Crane, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Large-billed Lark, Red-chested Flufftail

About the Birding Site

The Darling Hills Road is a dirt road that winds through the farmlands about 30 min north of Cape Town. There are a variety of habitats along this road – Strandveld just after the R27 turnoff, farmland and wheatfields, and some small wetland areas. This area is one of the closest spots to the city for several of western Southern African endemics. The birding is often best in the morning or late afternoon, but raptors can be seen circling in the heat of the day.

Key species:

Cape Clapper Lark, Southern Black Korhaan, Blue Crane, Martial Eagle, Black Harrier, Grey-winged Francolin, Blue Crane, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Large-billed Lark, Red-chested Flufftail

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
The public road is accessed from either the R27 (-33.5001, 18.3333), or the R307 (-33.4500, 18.4384). The neighbouring farmlands are private property and all birding is done from the roadside apart from Grootepos Wine Estate.
A map can be found at: https://www.capebirdclub.org.za/darling-hills-road-site-guide/

Other related information:

Recommended accommodation nearby:
Avian Leisure: http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/western-cape/#1527797056038-d1b09356-c159
Woodlands Sea Ranch: http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/western-cape/#1527796807626-fcfe07d2-e51b
Darling Lodge Guest House: http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/western-cape/#1527714238610-b478514c-ffe8
Strandkombuis: http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/western-cape/#1602503625686-f4b753ea-4e59
Duinepos Chalets: http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/western-cape/#1527714685188-4fa219e9-18d5

Local guide information:
Absolute Birding: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527800486296-4d544ea0-b3b6
Birding Africa: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527800843201-e0dd8be5-1491
Birding Eco-tours: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527837069054-d73b5915-e2a1
Cape Eco-tours: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527837703508-e06f57e0-d098
Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and custom Safaris: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527838131789-84d3b3f2-444d
Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527838131789-84d3b3f2-444d

Text prepared by:
Joel Radue, Birding Africa

Key species:

Cape Clapper Lark, Southern Black Korhaan, Blue Crane, Martial Eagle, Black Harrier, Grey-winged Francolin, Blue Crane, Pearl-breasted Swallow, Large-billed Lark, Red-chested Flufftail

Contact details:

Grootepos Wine Estate
Tel: +27 (0)22 492 2825. The estate is open from 10AM – 4PM
Email: friends@grootepost.co.za
Website: http://www.grootepost.co.za/do.aspx?DOID=908&CLIENTID=3069

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