Birding in Cape Town: Raptor watching in Newlands Forest

Raptor watching at Kirstenbosch has not been producing the goods (ie Honey Buzzard) so I decided to give Newlands Forest a try. Newlands (only about 3 kms down the road) has been fairly reliable for Honey Buzzard in previous years and, in addition, a lot of the raptors observed at Kirstenbosch recently are first spotted soaring over the Newlands area. On Monday, with a 7am start, I headed in a northerly direction from the helipad area at Newlands and found an excellent vista with sweeping views from Rhodes Memorial towards Kirstenbosch.

Newlands Map

As with all raptor watching, one does spend a fair amount of time waiting for some action, but there’s usually always something to keep you occupied. In this case, the bracken areas between the pine plantations were alive with the “machine gun” call of Neddicky.


It didn’t take long for a raptor to put in an appearance. First up was a Steppe Buzzard, which didn’t behave too well and only afforded me some relatively distant views and photos.

Steppe Buzzard

Second in line was a Yellow-billed Kite, a less common species (relative to other raptors) in the Newlands area.

Yellow-billed Kite

The rest of the morning was dominated by Steppe Buzzards (6 individuals in total), but I did also manage to notch up Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Black Sparrowhawk and Peregrine Falcon (heard).

Steppe Buzzard

Other species recorded for the morning included (in no particular order) Common Chaffinch, Cape White-eye, Grassbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, African Black Swift, Alpine Swift, White-rumped Swift, Black Saw-wing Swallow, Great Striped Swallow, African Olive Pigeon, Cape Canary, Olive Thrush, Karoo Prinia, Cape Robin-chat, Cape Batis and Paradise Flycatcher. Still no Honey Buzzard, but I’ll persevere!