Chaetops frenatus (endemic)
This mountain fynbos endemic is one of South Africa’s most sought after bird species. And not suprizingly! It is unique, unmistakeable and incredibly striking. Spending its time foraging on rocky slopes and scree, this ground nesting bird is best located by its loud, high-pitched whistle. But to see it you need to go to the right places!
Two excellent, accessible spots to connect with this species are Rooi Els (near Betty’s Bay) and Sir Lowry’s Pass. I have never had any luck with them at Rooi Els, (although this is arguably the best and safest spot for them) but found them relatively easy to find up the Gantouw Pass at the top of Sir Lowry’s Pass. Park at the viewsite/picnic spot at the summit, be careful crossing the road and follow a path and signs that lead you to the signal cannons and up the Gantouw Pass. My advice would be to arrive before sunrise, make your way up to these rocky slopes and listen out for their call and any flashes of colour jumping along the slopes. Strictly a permit is required as well as some degree of fitness and agility. Security is also a big concern, so if you choose to go, don’t go alone and be vigilant. Another option for these special birds is the Swartberg Pass near the Karoo town of Prince Albert. Good luck!