Birding in Cape Town: Lions Head birding notes

Lions Head

I’ve covered Lions Head before here, but thought I’d post a quick bird list from a run / walk up Lions Head this morning. The most notable species was Steppe Buzzard, my first for the season.

Lions Head bird list: Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape White-eye, Cape Robin-chat, Olive Thrush, Grey-backed Cisticola, Red-winged Starling, Rock Kestrel, Cape Siskin, Grassbird, Karoo Prinia, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Black Sparrowhawk, Egyptian Goose.

David Winter

Birding in Cape Town: Table Mountain and Lions Head

One of Cape Town’s greatest attractions is that it is located on the boundary of the Table Mountain National Park – in fact the park is surrounded by Cape Town! The city centre is located in a bowl flanked by Table Mountain to the south, Lions Head and Signal Hill to the west, and Table Bay (and Robben Island) to the north.

table mountain1

From the centre of Cape Town one can be standing at the foot of Table Mountain or walking up Lions Head within 10 minutes. The fynbos covered slopes do not yield high numbers of birds, but this is certainly made up for by the quality of the species (ie. endemics).

Karoo Prinia

On Saturday evening I popped up Lions Head for 45 minutes to stretch the legs. This Karoo Prinia (above) responded very quickly to some spishing as did a Grey-backed Cisticola (below).

Greybacked Cisticola

Apart from these two LBJs, Cape Grassbird’s melodic song is also commonly heard, particularly on the north-facing slopes. Other good endemics that one can catch up with are Orange-breasted Sunbird (listen for their metallic chinking call), Cape Siskin (a nasal “siskiiiiiiin”), Cape Sugarbird (check the protea bushes on the entrance road to Signal Hill) and the colourful Bokmakierie is also resident.


When not watching your footing, keep an eye out for Rock Kestrel (breeds on the cliffs), Black Sparrowhawk (love feasting on lazy Feral Pigeons), Peregrine Falcon (breed on Table Mountain), Booted Eagle (summer) and Steppe Buzzard (summer).

Don’t be put off climbing Lions Head in summer if there is a strong south-easterly wind blowing; the mountain lies in a wind shadow and can be breathless when the rest of Cape Town is blowing a gale. As for winter, the adage goes that if there is cloud around Lions Head and a north-westerly wind is blowing, one can expect rain within 24 hours. Enjoy!