Philippi wetlands birding notes

Recent reports on CapeBirdNet from Margaret Maciver et al prompted me to visit Philippi Wetlands on Sunday morning. I’ve visited the site before (see here for report and directions), but have never spent more than about 20 minutes in the area.

PW vista

Looking at the above image it’s hard to believe that this area is a collection of dry fields in summer. It’s not apparent from the photo, but this pan is teeming with Greater Flamingo, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-billed Teal, Glossy and Hadeda Ibis and Little Egret at the moment.

White-faced Ducks1

A star attraction for Western Cape birders is the presence of White-faced and Fulvous Ducks, both uncommon species in this area. I counted at least 15 White-faced Duck, and a handful of Fulvous.

Cape Canary stand-off

Spring is certainly in the air. These two Cape Canaries had a real stand-off as each one tried to out-perform the other. Each would shuffle up and down the line as it burst into song.

Cape Longclaw

Cape Longclaw is always a treat. I watched this individual for at least 20 minutes as it picked its way through the grass toward my car. I’ve never appreciated quite how hard they work bobbing in and out of the thick grass and undergrowth looking for their next meal.

African Pipit

I was lucky to snap this African Pipit between one of its many display loops over the dry pan edges.

Yellow-billed Egret

Not one of my best photos, but a record shot of Yellow-billed Egret. I haven’t seen this species around Cape Town for a few years, does anyone know of other reliable spots for them close to Cape Town?

Philippi Wetland Bird list: Sacred Ibis, Hartlaub’s Gull, Kelp Gull, Red-knobbed Coot, Red-billed Teal, Cape Shovellor, Grey Heron, Brown-throated Martin, White-throated Swallow, Little Egret, Cattle Egret, Cape Wagtail, Cape Canary, Greater Flamingo, Hadeda Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Yellow-billed Duck, Fulvous Duck, Egyptian Goose, Little Grebe, Cape Teal, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Speckled Pigeon, Common Moorhen, Reed Cormorant, Common Starling, White-faced Duck, Three-banded Plover, Lesser Swamp Warbler, African Pipit, Yellow-billed Egret, Pin-tailed Whydah, Cape Longclaw, Cape Sparrow, Pied Crow, Rock Kestrel, Barn Swallow.

David Winter

3 comments to Philippi wetlands birding notes

  • I have also read alot about this area on the cape bird net. Is it the same as Strandfontein Sewerage Works or something different? If so, what are the gps co-ords for the entrance?

  • David

    A message from Otto Schmidt via Cape Bird Net:

    “Hi All

    I spent a couple of hours in the Phillipi Wetlands on Saturday morning, in overcast and very windy conditions. No doubt as a result of the weather, there were no swifts of swallows about (other than Brown-throated Martins), but the waterbirds were around in good numbers, with White-faced Duck seen in three different locations, the largest number, at the main vlei on Ottery Road, being 10 birds, although there could have been more in the long flooded grass into which flying birds disappeared on several occasions. Three Fulvous Duck were also seen, but the unexpected one was a single Hottentot Teal foraging along the edge of the same vlei on Ottery Road. The only migrant wader noted was a single Wood Sandpiper alongside Punt Road.



  • David

    A note on Cape Bird Net from Shaun Overmeyer: 13 September 2010

    “Hi All,

    While out birding today I found a Squacco Heron in Phillipi Wetland on Ottery Road. It was located in the pans on the farm Valota S34 01.2 E18 32.3 (visable from the road but the people there are birder friendly). The bird was showing well and stayed put for long enough allowing other birders the chance to come and have a look as well.

    Other interesting sightings at Philippi for the weekend. White Faced Duck, Fulvous Duck, Greenshank, Yellow Billed Egret, Little Egret, Ruff, Little Stint, Ringed Plover, Kittlitz’s Plover, Purple Heron, Pintailed Whydah, Yellow Bishop, Spoonbill and lots more.

    I have not yet spotted Great Egret this year, this is the only place I have ever seen all 4 white egrets in the same spot, also no whiskered terns yet. Finally, I finally got to see my first Barn Swallow for the season.



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