Birding in Cape Town: raptor watching at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Each summer Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, serves up some good raptor watching. The main attraction is the number and variety of buzzards that one can encounter. An average morning will produce between 5 to 10 individual birds; good mornings have produced 12 different species of raptor! Steppe Buzzard Buteo vulpinus (summer migrant) is most common, Forest Buzzard Buteo trizonatus breeds in the area, but the star attraction is Honey Buzzard Pernis apivorus a rare summer visitor. Honey Buzzard was first discovered on the Cape Peninsula at Tokai Forest (+/- 10km south of Kirstenbosch) in the 1980s and small numbers of these migrants are now sighted annually.

Below are a few photos from a brief raptor watch on Saturday 5 December: [sorry about the Painted Lady – one tends to photograph other things when the raptors aren’t performing :) ]

Steppe Buzzard worn remiges

Steppe Buzzard

This first buzzard was rather distant [hence the poor image], but note the rather worn remiges. The primaries in particular are well worn.

Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard worn tail1

Steppe Buzzard

Steppe Buzzard worn tail

Steppe Buzzard

This Steppe Buzzard was more obliging – note the worn tail feathers.

Painted Lady

Painted Lady

Other species regularly seen whilst raptor watching include: African Harrier Hawk Polyboroides typus, Booted Eagle Hieraaetus pennatus, Yellow-billed Kite Milvus aegyptius, Jackal Buzzard Buteo rufofuscus, Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk Accipiter rufiventris, Black Sparrowhawk Accipiter melanoleucus, African Goshawk Accipiter tachiro, Rock Kestrel Falco rupicolis, Verreaux’s Eagle Aquila verreauxii and Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus.

I hope to catch up with a Honey Buzzard this summer – watch this space…

1 comment to Birding in Cape Town: raptor watching at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

  • Dante Parisi

    I would love to join you and would appreciate it if you could let me know when these events happen. Thanks.


Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>