Buttonquail bash and others - June 2010

Hi All,

I had a simple brief from a client, "I  need 2 birds to complete my Cape Town land birds,  Chukar Partridge and Hottentot Buttonquail."

The challenge for Buttonquail was taken up and with some friends I took the client to Cape Point, a spot that I had seen them twice before.

We walked for about 3hrs in beautiful weather without any success, but it was not wasted as we did some atlassing whilst there.  We also met Barry Rose who had just finished a "Quail" walk there and he informed us that he has not seen the HB-Q there since the fire 2 years ago even though the habitat had recovered.  He birds this area at least once a month.  We did not feel so bad!

We decided to call on Botriver/Arabella today and arriving there about 9am started walking the suitable habitat.  After a long walk, this worked and we flushed one Hottentot Buttonquail which gave reasonable views, and flushed it again which gave even better views.  One happy client!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Autumn birding - Tanqua Karoo - May 2010

Hi All,

Did a trip which was specifically for our local endemics last weekend for a Canadian client, in fact he is no 6 in Canada! Called on Rooi-els early, for a change with out wind!  Orange-breasted and Southern Double-Collared Sunbirds and Cape Sugarbirds were very active in the fynbos in their new breeding colours.  Familiar Chat competed with Neddicky for the top spot on top of the boulders, whilst Ground Woodpecker were still making their way down to the really big "mountain chunks".  Cape Rockjumpers were fairly numerous, at least 3 different families seen, even displaying fairly close to the road.

Birding in habitats around Cape Town in autumn - Apr 2010

Hi all,

I did a few tours in the past 2 weeks around the Cape. Birds calling or
displaying was a rarity and birding skills and tricks to lure them out had
to be used often.

Tanqua in March 2010

Hi all,

I took a client to Tanqua on Tuesday. We arranged to leave at 1pm, so as to bird on the way to Ceres our overnight stop.

With all the hot weather we had been having I decided it was time to check the gas in the air-conditioner as 40C was a possibility or maybe even a certainty!

On the way there we spotted 300+ White Storks at the cattle feed pens near Voelvlei at Gouda. There were also some Yellow-billed Kites around.

Emmanuel Milot

Hi Brian,

Thanks for the pictures, they are great!

I really had a great time on Sunday. I made the total and we had 103 species, quite close to your estimate of 105. Perhaps Steve has a couple more species in his notebook that I did not have time to note.

I arrived in a Montreal colder than Cape Town, which is not supposed to be the case at this time of the year!

Thanks again for everything. I will strongly recommend your services if I know of people planning to bird in South Africa.



Québec Canada

Jim Hunter

I have been back for about 2 weeks now and am just getting to the point that I have the time to write to you about my adventures in South Africa.

So how was South Africa? It was the greatest time of my life. I cannot thank either one of you enough for all that you did for me. I found it very difficult to do all of the booking of my trip from Connecticut; however I must be one of the luckiest people around. You were very easy to work with and very forthcoming with the details of everything and I found you to be an awesome resource. As far as having Brian as my guide I cannot say enough.

Brian is an amazing guide and knows so much about so many different things. He and I had a great time birding, talking about plants, insects, lizards, and many other things. I had an amazing time and I think that Brian and I got along really well. He is without a doubt one of the best guides that I have ever been with. I have had the opportunity to work with many and Brian is just outstanding. One of the things that I like most about him is his ability to find identify and understand the birds, but at the same time not disturb them by playing tapes. I am not big into tape calling in birds, and I was relieved that he was the same way. He showed me so many different birds and made sure that I didn’t just see them but was able to study them and also get some very good photos. In addition, Brian has been keeping in touch with me and I am going to send him some photos so that I am sure of their ID.

If and or when I come back to South Africa I can guarantee that I will be using your services. In addition I am going to be telling all of the birders I know about both of you and will encourage them to use your services. Again I cannot thank you all for all that you did for me. I had over 300 species. I got about 80% of the Cape Endemics and 40% of the South African endemics.

Thanks again for everything!!


Thank you for a wonderful days birding with the Ehlers couple in the Tanqua.

It was an absolute privelege to see how your patience and persistence pays off in the field. I believe far too many birders are in too much of a hurry and hence "depend" on call back tapes. My tape recorder packed up years ago and I am not intending to replace it.

Once again many thanks.

Sally Harris

A BIG thank you for such a wonderful time in the Tanqua, for all the trouble you went to to get us there....and ESPECIALLY for that amazing sighting of the Cinnamon Breasted-warbler! What a treat.

Again I say what a fabulous driver you are!

Many thanks again Brian

Jacquie Plimsoll

I cannot begin to thank you enough for the unbelievably special time we spent with you in the Tanqua. I just LOVED every minute of it and am so chuffed to have added so many lifies to my list.

Thank you for going the extra mile and just for making our birding trip such a wonderful experience. I so look forward to our next trip.

Many Thanks Brian

Denise Higginbotham

Hi Brian,

Big thank you for a most wonderful weekend in the Tanqua. It was totally awesome and your birding knowledge amazed me - in identifying their calls and habitat etc. You have an amazing gift so keep up the good work.

Then besides the thrill of all the birds, the flowers were beautiful.

Hope the Tanqua Taxi is always in business.

Go well

David Stevens - 04 December 2009

Hi Brian

Many thanks for the photos and especially the excellent birding experience. For you to find 6 out of 6 birds requested was exceptional.

I look forward to birding with you again.



Bob May - 23 November 2009

Hi Brian,

Thanks for correcting the bird IDs - don't want too many embarassing errors!

Having sorted out the IDs I thought you might like to see a few of the images that I like best (I know what these are!).

Of course good photos opportunities are made when the guide places you in the right position for the shot to be taken and we thank you very much for doing just that on so many occassions.

Cape Town weather sounds very different from when we were there. Meanwhile we are getting a dose of Boulders penguin weather - torrential rain and high winds!

Kind regards,

Rob and Pam

Mike Witty


I can only say that I thoroughly enjoyed the two days of very successful birding. Your local knowledge was very impressive and I will certainly show my appreciation at least by booking with you again next time I am birding in Cape Town (probably in about 6-8 months).

Hope you have a healthy and sufficiently busy winter.

Best regards,


P.S. I spotted the House Crows at the airport.

Dry West and Garden Route trip - September 2008

Hi All,

Had a fantastic 17 day trip with one client which started at Cape Town on 13th September and went via Bushmanland/Kalahari/West Coast/Tanqua/Garden Route.

The Bushmanland area still had flowers, maybe they had had early rains, as did the coastal belt from Port Nolloth to Langebaan. The road to Kalahari is now tarred to within 10k from the Park gate and the dirt road to the gate was good. Inside the Park it was a different storey with bad corrugations on the Nossob road but Auob road was not too bad. With the Mata-Mata gate being open many Namibia tourists are coming in there, staying 2 days in the Park and then going out via Upington/Springbok to Ai-Ais. This means that they need to maintain that road more often, which I told their PR officer, but!!!!!!!!!

We saw 306 species which included 28 Raptors, 17 Larks, 2 Sparrow-larks, 14 Canary type and 3 Honey-guides amongst all the Chats and others.

Steve Baines - 21-28 September 2009

Hi Brian,

Hope this e-mail finds you well. Herewith my trip report that I have also posted on other Birding sights, thanks for all your efforts, it was a great trip.

Kind regards



An idea to visit Cape Town and get to grips with some Cape endemics during a week’s hard birding was hatched last year between me and my brother Lee.

With only a week in the field we decided to maximise our time by utilising the services of a local bird guide.

After some net research we decided on Brian Vanderwalt. The decision to use Brian was down to the fact that he catered for individual birders.

As it transpired I don’t think we could have picked a better bird guide.

Brian’s birding skills proved to be exceptional.

He knows all the bird calls and how to replicate them to elicit a response, where to look for the more elusive species, and most importantly his identification skills are second to none.

He also put the time in, always going the extra mile, quite literally, to get us the birds.

During the preparation period we e-mailed Brian a suggested itinerary and an indication as to what we were after.

Brian came back with a revised itinerary that suited our needs and also organised accommodation and a Pelagic for us.

I cannot recommend Brian highly enough.

Birding around the Cape in Winter: Rooi-Els coast/Kogelberg Biosphere - August 2009

Hi All,

I did a few day trips for Birdwatch Cape this past week, one which went to Rooi-els on the East coast of South Africa, in the Kogelberg Biosphere region.

When we arrived, after seeing Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird, the next bird was Victorin’s Warbler! This was just after 8.30am and it was singing it’s heart out on the top of a dry stick! The rest of the walk produced Cape Rock-jumpers, Cape Siskin, Sentinel Rock-thrush and Ground Woodpecker. The whole gang of specials in the first half hour of our walk.

That does not happen every day!!