Birder's Guide

MAR 2014

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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Cape Rockjumper. Photo © Adam Riley 42 Birder's Guide to Travel | March 2014 South Africa supply station for its ships sailing between the Netherlands and the Dutch East Indies (now called Indonesia). Cape Town has since grown into a huge metropolis of near- ly fve million people spread over most of the Cape Peninsula. Within the city limits are more than 30 nature reserves, includ- ing sprawling Table Mountain National Park, which protects all elevations of the mountainous spine of the Cape Peninsula, from the 3,300-ft. (1,006-m) high Table Mountain to the rugged Cape Point at sea level. What makes the Cape region so special for naturalists is that its isolated Mediterranean climate has produced the smallest yet most diverse of the world's six foral kingdoms: the Cape Floristic Region. More than 9,000 vascular plants, most of which are endemic, fourish in this biome, which is also known as Fynbos ("fnebush"). Famous endemic plants in- clude a staggering variety of Protea, Erica, and Restio, and these in turn provide habi- tat for a variety of endemic birds. Most sought-after are two species belonging to families endemic to southern Africa: Cape Sugarbird and Cape Rockjumper. Cape Town also provides access to other habitats, including the rich offshore up- wellings of the Benguela Current, which attracts hundreds of thousands of pelagic birds and supports populations of several endemic seabirds, including Jackass (or African) Penguin and three species of cor- morant. Further inland, the Fynbos (pro- nounced FAYN-boss) is replaced by the semidesert plains of the Succulent Karoo (kuh-ROO), a distinct habitat region that supports its own variety of endemic bird species. All these habitats can be visited on day outings from a single comfortable base in Cape Town. Key outings for a chance at all the local specialties are listed below. The Cape Peninsula • A day may be prof- itably spent exploring the rugged peninsula and sites within the city. The immaculately arranged Kirstenbosch National Botanical West Coast National Park. Photo © Adam Riley 7-South Africa.indd 42 3/4/14 1:11 PM

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