Old Station Building, 64 Main Road, Vredenburg, 7380, Western Cape, South Africa

Birds of the Trials

Birds of the Trails

Birds to be found on the CWCBRT:

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Chesnut-banded plover/Rooiband strandkiewiet – Charadius pallidus

The Chesnut-banded plover is a common resident on the west coast shores. The chestnut-banded plover is a small African wetland bird which is named for the narrow, chestnut-colored band across its breast. This band joins a chestnut line which runs across the front of the head, and it distinguishes the chestnut-banded plover from other species of the same genus which inhabit similar regions. In addition to this striking coloration, the chestnut-banded plover is adorned with a bright white forehead, throat and belly and a greyish-brown back. Fine black lines extend from the male chestnut-banded plover’s beak to its eyes, and there is also a small black marking on the forehead. However, these black markings are absent in the female. Both the male and female chestnut-banded plover have a black bill and relatively long black legs. Immature chestnut-banded plovers have a duller or sometimes incomplete breast band, which is greyish rather than chestnut. The immature birds also lack any black markings on the head. Two geographically separate groups of chestnut-banded plovers exist and each one is considered a subspecises. The subspecies Charadrius pallidus pallidus is larger than Charadrius pallidus venustus, and its plumage is paler and greyer on the upperpart. The chestnut-banded plover gives a sharp ‘pii’ or ‘tooit’ call, as well as a complex series of trilled, nasal-sounding notes during the breeding season

European Bee-Eaters/ Europese Byvreter- Merops apiaster

European Bee-Eaters are one of Europe’s most colorful birds and they are one of the most aerial of all Bee-Eater species. They are a slender bird with yellow and brown upper parts, blueish-green underparts and a black, sharply pointed beak. They have two elongated central tail feathers and both sexes are alike. They are a gregarious species and they feed and roost communally. The Bee-eaters are migratory species and they spend the winter months in sub-Saharan African and western India. During the spring they move to North Africa, Europe and Asia to breed. They could easily be spotted on The 5 Bay trail during summer. European Bee-Eaters mainly feed on stinging insects like bees and wasps. They capture them in flight then remove their sting by rapidly rubbing them on their perch. They eat around 250 insects each day. European Bee-Eaters breed in colonies and they make their nests in sandy banks, usually near a river. Predators of European Bee-Eaters include snakes and larger birds.

African black Oystercatcher/Swarttobie- Haematopus moquini

The African black oystercatcher is an endemic resident. It’s the only entire black shorebird with red bill, eyes and legs .Immature appear more brownish. Normal call ‘kleep-weep, klee-weep’; alarm call a sharp ‘ki-kik-kiks’. This bird occurs singly or in small groups on the rocky coastlines, estuaries and coastal lagoons. This specie is most common on the Cape and Namibian coastlines, but is threatened by human disturbance of habitat. Its diet includes primarily bivalves such as limpets and mussels, but also polychaetes, whelks and crustaceans.

Bank Cormorant /Bankduiker- Phalacrocorax neglectus

The Bank cormorant is also an endemic resident. It’s told by its heavy bodied appearance, crested head and a white rump in breeding season, wings dark brown, rest of the body is black bronze sheen. The immature is duller black.  These Birds occur in singly or in small groups in coastal waters; often seen standing on small islands and offshore rocks.

Cape wagtail/Gewone Kwikkie- Motacilla capensis

The cape wagtail is a common resident as well. The Cape wagtail is a slender bird, 19–20 cm in length, with the characteristic longish, constantly wagging tail of its genus. The adult is plain grey-brown above, apart from pale wing edges and a short white supercilium. It has off-white underparts, with a dark grey band across the breast. Young birds are duller and have yellowish underparts. Cape wagtail has a’ tseep- eep’ or’ tseep ‘call and a trilled whistled song.

This wagtail forages energetically for insect on the ground, alone or in pairs, moving with a characteristic bobbing motion that causes the tail to swing up and down. Feeding is often near water, including garden ponds, and this bird will eat tadpoles or tiny fish if the opportunity arises.

Kelp gull/Swartrugmeeu- Larus dominicanus

This bird is ‘n very common resident also locally known as the ‘Kaapse skollie”. Appears singly or in small groups scavenging along coasts, especially harbours; rarely inland. The adult kelp gull has black upperparts and wings. The head, underparts, tail and the small “mirrors” at the wing tips are white. The bill is yellow with a red spot, and the legs are greenish-yellow (brighter and yellower when breeding, duller and greener when not breeding). The call is a strident ki-och. Juveniles have dull legs, a black bill, a dark band in the tail, and an overall grey-brown plumage densely edged whitish, but they rapidly get a pale base to the bill and largely white head and underparts. They take three or four years to reach maturity

Sanderling/ Drietoonstrandloper- Calidris alba

The Sanderling Is a common summer visitor. It’s a small shorebird of very white appearance with dark shoulder-patch and short, thick bill. White wing –bars conspicuous in flight. Larger and paler then any stint. When flushed calls a liquid ‘blt-blt’. Flock, mostly on open seashores, characteristically run along the water’s edge and feed where the waves have receded. Feeds in a hunched, head-down posture, probing wet sand hurriedly, continuously. Flight is low and direct.

White breasted cormorant/Witborsduiker- Phalacrocorax lucidus

The white breasted cormorant is a common or localized resident. Identified by large size, white throat and breast or in immature, entire white underparts (much whiter than immature of considerably smaller). Adults has green eye, pale grey bill with a darker culmen and yellow facial skin. Occurs singly or in groups on coastal rocks, island and estuaries, and in large inland waters.

Black Headed Oriole/Swartkopwielewaal- Oriolus larvatus

The black headed oriole is a common resident. This bird has a very liquid sounding call which is a common sound in the area. They are a striking yellow colour with a black head. Like the other orioles, it has bright yellow plumage with the difference being the distinctive black head, which makes it a conspicuous bird. Although it has bright colours, it may still be difficult to spot, because its preferred habitat is among the foliage of high trees and thick bush. It is likely to be heard before being seen as its liquid whistles interspersed with lowish, drawn-out screeching sounds, are loud and draw attention. The black-headed oriole has a slightly swooping, fast-and-direct flight pattern, which takes it on forages for the fruit and insects that it feeds on. Its long, strong bill is good at devouring most insects, with caterpillars, locusts and beetles all being fair game. They will feed mainly on fruits, insects, berries and nectar and are said to have a very quick digestion period of around 5 minutes. They will nest in trees, placed in a fork at the end of a branch. The chicks get fed on caterpillars. There is no record of the incubation period for this bird

Martial Eagle/Breekoparend- Polemaetus bellicosus

The Martial eagle is a fairly common resident. They are the largest of the African eagles and incredibly powerful, capable of knocking an adult man off his feet. They reputedly have enough power in one foot to break a man’s arm. The largest eagle in Africa, the Martial eagle weighs in at almost 14 pounds (6.5 Kg.) and has a wingspan of about 6 feet 4 inches. It is 32 inches long. The upperparts are dark brown with a white belly with black streaks; the leg are white and has very large talons. The immature bird looks quite different from the adult. The Martial eagle has I wide variety when it comes to its diet. This bird feeds on: guineafowl, francolins, bustards, and poultry. Birds as large as a European Stork are recorded to have fallen prey to the Martial Eagle. In other areas the diet is largely mammalian, especially hyrax and small antelopes. Animals as large as Impala calves are taken, and some monkeys, also occasionally young domestic goats, and lambs. Carnivores like mongoose are sometimes taken, even occasionally Serval Cat and Jackal; also a few snakes and large lizards. It will evidently eat whatever is available, with a preference for game-birds, hyrax, and poultry. It is not known to eat carrion at all except possibly dead lambs.

Common Ostrich/ Volstruis- Struthio camelus

This is a common, well known, enormous flightless bird. Ostrich has a long, curving, predominantly white neck. The humped body of the male is covered in black patches and the wings and tail are tipped with white. The female is brown and white. These huge birds, which sometimes reach a height of 2.6 m and a weight of 135 kg, cannot fly, but are very fast runners. Ostriches are mainly vegetarian, eating grass, succulent’s berries and seeds, though they will also eat insects. They swallow large numbers of pebbles which help grind the harder food in the gizzard and aid digestion. Ostriches normally mate for life, and they share the task of incubating the eggs. Eggs take approximately 35 – 40 days to hatch. The male, which has mostly black feathers, sits on the eggs at night, and the drab, brown female who lays up to 20 eggs, covers them during the day. In this way, the nest is much harder to see. They are well adapted to living in dry conditions and are able to survive dehydration of up to 25%.

Swift Tern/Geelbeksterretjie- Thalasseus bergii

The swift tern is a common resident. Immature has yellow bill, black-and-white barred upper-parts with buff-edged feathers – quite a mottled plumage. The sexes are alike. The adults is large tern, with large, slightly curved, yellow bill. Forehead strip, sides of face, neck and underparts white. Black legs and feet with yellow soles. Occurs in small groups in coastal waters. Roosts on beaches and estuaries.

Secretary Bird/Sekretarisvoel- Sagittarius serpentarius

The Secretary bird is a bird of prey, but unlike other raptors it has long legs, wings and a tail. The single species of its family, the bird gets its name from its crest of long feathers that look like the quill pens 19th century office workers used to tuck behind their ears. The bird is basically dove-grey in color, with black on the wings, thighs and elongated central tail feathers. The short, down-curved bill is backed by an area of bare, red and yellow skin. In addition, the long legs are feathered half way and have the appearance of breeches. The face is bare and the tail feathers are long and shaggy. Standing up to 4ft tall. It’s tail has two black central streamers. Its most distinctive feature are the 20 black crest feathers, resembling quill pens stuck behind it’s (invisible) ears. Secretary birds consume snakes, other reptiles, amphibians, tortoises, rats and other small mammals as well as young game birds. Secretary birds pair for life and are remarkably faithful to their nest site. The nest is generally placed low in the fork of a tree, usually an acacia.

Lesser flamingo/Kleinflamink- Phoenicopterus minor

The lesser flamingo is a locally abundant nomadic resident and visitor from other parts of Africa. The lesser flamingo is a tall, large bodied bird with a long neck and small head. Most flamingos, including this species, have pale pink plumage, legs, and bills. The lesser flamingo is one of the smallest and the brightest of the flamingos. Flamingo mainly feed on algae and diatoms. Feeds with head at the surface instead of submerged. The flamingos can live up to 50 year. The name flamingo is originally derived from the Portuguese language and means “red goose”, which is a reference to their flying formation and the noise they make. The flamingo is unique in that the adults, both male and female, provide their young with a type of milk called crop milk.

African Sacred Ibis/Skoorsteenveer-Threskiornis aethiopicus

The African sacred Ibis is a common resident. It has a decurved black bill and black head , neck  and legs contrast with other white plumage. At close range, loose, fluffy plumes on the back are visible. In the immature, black head and neck are speckled white, front of the neck white. This bird is usually silent, but occasionally makes some croaking noises, unlike its vocal relative, the Hadada ibis. he African sacred ibis occurs in marshy wetlands and mud flats, both inland and on the coast. It will also visit cultivation and rubbish dumps. It feeds on various fish, frogs, small mammals, reptiles and smaller birds as well as insects. It may also probe into the soil with its long bill for invertebrates such as earthworms.

Egyptian Goose/Kolgans- Alopochen aegyptiaca

The Egyptian Goose is not really a goose, but is actually a Shelduck. It is a cross between a goose and a duck.  It has many duck-like characteristics, but it also has some external goose-like traits. Two of the most obvious field marks of the Egyptian Goose are the chestnut eye patches surrounding its yellow eyes, and a brown chest patch.  There is also a brown stripe that forms a collar around the nape of the neck.  There are two color forms of Egyptian Geese: some have gray-brown upper parts, and others are red-brown. It has pink legs and feet. The bill is also pink, with a black tip and a dark base. The male has green secondaries, but a large portion of the adult wing is white. The white usually remains hidden when the bird is at rest, however, the white wing feathers can  be easily seen when the bird is in flight. The under tail coverts are cinnamon colored:  the upper tail is black.  The sexes look alike, but the female is slightly smaller.  She also may have a lighter colored head than the male.  Close-up, the feathers have a wavy look to them.  The young birds look similar to the adult, but lack the eye and chest patches.  They have brown eyes. The Egyptian Geese are terrestrial; they spend a lot of time ashore.  They feed both day and night sometimes far from the water.  They are good swimmers and divers, but do not filter their food. They mainly eat seeds, leaves, grass, berries, and herbs. They also eat locusts, worms, insects, and small animals.

Blue Crane/Bloukraansvoel- Antropoides paradiseus

The Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradisea), also known as the Stanley Crane and the Paradise Crane, is a tall, ground-dwelling bird of the crane family which stands a little over a metre high and is pale blue-gray in colour with a white crown, a pink bill, and long, dark gray wingtip feathers which trail to the ground. It eats seeds, insects and reptiles. Blue cranes lay their eggs in the bare veld, often close to water. Many occupy agricultural areas. The blue crane has a distinctive rattling croak, fairly high-pitched at call, which can be heard from far away. It is, however, usually quiet. The blue crane is also the national bird of South Africa. Both the Xhosa and Zulu tribes in Africa revere the Blue Crane. Zulu royalty were the only ones allowed to wear Blue Crane feathers and Xhosa warriors were only allowed to wear Blue Crane feathers into battle.

Cape Spurfowl/Kaapse Fisant- Pternistis capensis

The Cape Spurfowl is common to abundant Cape endemic. A Large, dark francolin, only the underpart is prominently streaked white. The Bird shows a blackish tail in flight. The call is loud, high –pitched cackling ‘kwek, kwek, kwek, kwek, kwek, kwek ,kwek, kwek, kwek ,kwek…’the sound rising and  then decreasing in volume and fading at the end .Occurs singly or in small coveys in fynbos, wooded kloof and riverside scrub.

Yellow-billed Kite/Geelbekwou- Milvus parasitus

The yellow billed kite is a common summer visitor and resident. Like many of the birds with which we are so familiar actually spend our winters many thousands of miles away and so in spring we look forward to welcoming them back to our communities. Yellow-billed kites, those large, brown birds of prey with the distinct V-shaped tale that are often spotted over our cities, spend winter north of our borders, elsewhere in Africa and typically start to return to South Africa in July and August. The yellow-billed kite feed on a wide range of small vertebrates and insects, much of which is scavenged.

Jackal Buzzard/Rooiborsjakkasvoel- Buteo rufofuscus

The adult South African Jackal Buzzard is strikingly plumaged. It is almost black above with a chestnut tail. The primary flight feathers are blackish and the secondary’s off-white, both barred with black. Below the chin and around the throat is mainly white, and the rest of the underparts and the underwing coverts are rich rufous. The flight feathers from below are white, tipped with black to form a dark trailing edge to the wing. The juvenile Jackal Buzzard is mainly brown above and rufous brown below and on the tail. It can be confused with wintering Steppe Buzzard, but has broader wings and an unbarred under tail. Preys on insects (termites), small reptiles, mammals, and birds. Carrion, including road-killed springhares, mongooses, and hares, and dead sheep also form a large percentage of the diet. Hunts regularly from the wing, soaring or kiting in search of prey, and then parachuting to the ground to capture prey.

Rock Kestrel/Kransvalk- Falco rupicolus

Males are less heavily marked than the otherwise similar members of the Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) group; the back is a brighter chestnut color; and the plumage below is bright chestnut that contrasts with the nearly unmarked white underwings. The females have grey heads and tails, and the backs are spotted rather than barred – distinguishing them from the Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) group. They tend to have more black bands in the central tail feathers than males. Their diet typically consists of small mammals (rodents), small birds up to the size of Rock Pigeons (Columba livia), insects (such as grasshoppers and beetles) and reptiles (including snakes).Rock Kestrels mostly hunt in open areas from elevated perches, such as telephone poles or tall trees. Or they may hover while in flight to inspect the ground below; and generally catch their prey by pouncing on them on the ground. They also hawk prey aerially (= catching prey in flight).

Barn Swallow/Europese Swael- Hirundo rustica

The barn swallow (Hirundo rustica) is the most widespread species of swallow in the world. It is a distinctive passerine bird with blue upperparts, a long, deeply forked tail and curved, pointed wings. The barn swallow is a bird of open country that normally uses man-made structures to breed and consequently has spread with human expansion. It builds a cup nest from mud pellets in barns or similar structures and feeds on insects caught in flight. This species lives in close association with humans, and its insect-eating habits mean that it is tolerated by man; this acceptance was reinforced in the past by superstitions regarding the bird and its nest. There are frequent cultural references to the barn swallow in literary and religious works due to both its living in close proximity to humans and its annual migration. The barn swallow is the national bird of Austria and Estonia.

Little swift/ Kleinwindswael- Apus affinis

These birds have very short legs which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces. The little swift has a white rump, which extends over the sides of the body, and square tail distinguishes this species from all but the Mottled Spinetail. Differs from this species in clear white throat. Wings less pointed than those of other swifts. The scientific name comes from the Greek, apous, meaning “without feet”. They never settle voluntarily on the ground. It exclusively eats arthropods, such as termite alates, dragonflies, grasshoppers, spiders and mantids. It hunts in the air, reaching great heights and travelling long distances in search of food, while sometimes descending to catch prey fleeing from a bushfire