Birding in Cape Town: Harold Porter Botanical Gardens in Betty’s Bay

Harold Porter Botanical Gardens is not renowned like it’s big sister, Kirstenbosch, but the birding is arguably much better in terms of available endemics. The gardens and surrounding mountain-side are some of the best areas to find Victorin’s Warbler, while Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Spurfowl, Cape Bulbul, Cape Siskin are also resident; Protea Seed-eater is a rare visitor. Following my previous posts about the Betty’s Bay tern roost and otter sighting, Harold Porter is located less than a kilometer from these sights.

Harold porter map w labels

Map © Peter Slingsby:

The gardens only open at 7am, which is a bit of a nuisance, but a recent morning visit produced a nice smattering of birds. Cape Sugarbirds are generally very common in the upper reaches of the garden; on occasions it can seem that every protea bush has a tail flopping from it!

Cape Sugarbird2

Victorin’s Warblers were very vocal in the area between Leopards and Disa Kloof, but they weren’t placed in the genera Cryptillas for their extensive aerial display flights! Needless to say, I couldn’t grab a snap of one, but the active Orange-breasted Sunbirds (males and females were in abundance) made up for this.

Orange-breasted Sunbird

Harold Porter is also a fairly reliable site for Ground Woodpecker, but this species is probably more easily seen at Rooi Els. The birds tend to sit high up on rocks in either Disa or Leopards Kloof, which can make it difficult to spot them. The bird below was fairly obliging, but this is usually the exception.

Ground Woodpecker

Other species recorded on my short walk included: Black Saw-wing Swallow, Cape Robin-chat, Olive Thrush, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Spurfowl, Fork-tailed Drongo, African Dusky Flycatcher, Swee Waxbill, Brimstone Canary, Cape Canary, Sombre Greenbul, Cape Batis, Yellow Bishop, Karoo Prinia, African Black Swift, Alpine Swift, Hadeda Ibis. The gardens are also one of the more regular sites for Brown-backed Honeybird, Olive Woodpecker and Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, scarce birds close to Cape Town.

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