One of the most wonderful things about living here in Cape Town is how close you can be to nature wherever you go. Although there are great nature reserves and parks where you can get up close and personal with wild animals, there are also some encounters that can surprise you when you least expect it.
Simon’s Town: African Penguins
Boulder’s beach in Simon’s Town is the place to go to spot some wild African penguins. You can pay a small fee to get into the main part of the beach, but it’s just as great an experience (if not better, avoiding the tourist rush) to go to the free beach where the penguins also sit on the rocks and swim around.
The penguins are really chilled and you can actually get really close to them for a good close-up picture if you’re careful.
Fish Hoek Beach: Cape Fur Seal
Just over 13km offshore from Fish Hoek beach is Seal Island, a small mass of land occupied by a great number of Cape Fur Seals (Brown Fur Seal). Although quite a distance from their home on Seal Island, some venture as far as Fish Hoek beach and can be found on the rocks along the catwalk.
Just yesterday, Abby and I encountered three seals at this location. The first, a very young seal, swam over to the rock pool we were sat by, having the time of his life. He was swirling and twirling around in the water and we later found him taking a nap on the rocks. One of the seals we saw, a full size adult, took us by surprise as we clambered over the rocks. It’s colouring is very similar to the rocks so it was lucky we spotted him before we got any closer!
The seals here in Cape Town can be found pretty much anywhere. Other places I’ve spotted them are the V&A Waterfront harbour and Kommetije beach. The large population of Cape Fur Seal here is one of the reasons the Great White Sharks are so common in these waters.
Widespread: Red-Winged Starling
Known as iSomi in Xhosa, or Rooivlerkspreeu in Afrikaans, the Red-Winged Starling is very common around the Cape.
Easily distinguished by the red-orange colouring under its wings, these birds are slightly larger than the common starling found across the UK.
I’m particularly fond of these birds as some nest in our garden and their call is a very recognisable “twee-twoo”.
Fish Hoek Beach: Swift Tern
One of the most impressive things I’ve seen while living here in Cape Town is the Swift Tern feeding. These birds eat fish but they spot them from high above the sea and dive bomb into the water to catch them.
While wading in the shallows of Fish Hoek beach one day I was lucky enough to spot these birds feeding right before my eyes.
Cape of Good Hope: Rock Hyrax (Dassie)
These guys are super cute. Some kind of cross between a pig and a rat, these medium sized mammals can be found on rocky outcrops around Cape Point and on Table Mountain.
They can be quite shy, but I was able to get pretty close to them down at the Cape of Good Hope a few weeks back. They can be difficult to spot as they blend into their surroundings, but once you find one, you’ll soon spot more and more all around.
There’s many other beautiful animals and birds to spot around here, so I’ll be keeping a look out & will post again when I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them in their natural habitat. I’ll be looking out for Humpback Whales, Chacma Baboons and Great White Sharks in particular!
Note: images of Swift Tern and Rock Hyrax not my own. All other images are my own.