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Situated on eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Tokai is an extensive plantation of pine and eucalyptus trees, with a small patch of indigenous forest at the Arboretum. Fynbos is present on the upper slopes. It is an excellent raptor-watching site and a summer morning's visit will not disappoint the dedicated raptorphile. Within the Cape Peninsular, Tokai plantation is synonymous with the presence of European Honey-Buzzard, and it is also one of the easiest spots to observe Common Chaffinch. The Tokai Forest is part of the Table Mountain National Park.

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Birding

1. Regular sightings of European Honey-Buzzard have been made during summer (late November to early April) over the last 10 years, with up to five individuals having been present during one season. They are best seen in the morning, and it is necessary to stand at a vantage point where one can see over the trees. In order to have the best chance of seeing the birds, walk upwards through the arboretum early on a summer morning, and take the right-hand paths until you cross a turnstile and enter a more open area on the north side of the arboretum. The large cleared areas here provide the most extensive views over the forest, and patient waiting and scanning will provide the most rewarding raptor watching. A telescope is almost essential.

2. The resident Forest Buzzard can be tricky to distinguish from the Steppe Buzzard, which are present during summer. The three resident accipiters (Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Black Sparrowhawk, and African Goshawk) are most active in the morning and late afternoon, and are vocal when breeding. Peregrine Falcon, Verreauxs' Eagle and Rock Kestrel can often be seen along the ridges and cliffs above the plantation. Also present are Jackal Buzzard, Yellowbilled kite, Black-shouldered Kite and the occasional Booted Eagle, and raptors recorded less frequently include European Hobby and Gabar Goshawk.

3. Eurasian Hobby of the best places to see Common Chaffinch, and in spring the prominent call of the males is one of the distinctive sounds of Tokai. The birds are best seen using a tape recorder to call them down from their high songposts. Throughout the year, the birds can be located by their piercing "chink-chink" call.

4. Neddicky, Cape Siskin and Cape Spurfowl can be seen in the scrub in the clearings.

5. The birding in the indigenous forest patches is poor, and species such as Cape Batis, African Dusky Flycatcher, African Paradise-Flycatcher (summer) and Olive Thrush can be seen. Knysna Warbler and Olive Woodpecker have been recorded from the forest deeper in the kloofs.

6. Night birds include Spotted Eagle-Owl, African Wood-Owl, Barn Owl and Fiery-necked Nightjar (which can be flushed in the arboretum during the day).

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General

Tokai Plantation can be reached by taking the M3 from Cape Town, and after about 20 km take the Tokai offramp and turn right into Tokai road. Follow straight along this road for a few km, passing through a traffic circle and eventually meeting a T-junction in front of the Manor House. Turn left and follow the dirt road a few hundred metres to the Arboretum.

Table Mountain National Park general inquiries: Tel: +27 21 701 8692
Tokai Forest office: Tel: +27 21 712 7471 / Fax: +27 21 712 9504

Sanparks Website

Claire Spottiswoode and Callan Cohen 1997.

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