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EAGLES NEST IN LAMBERTSBAAI, CAPE WEST COAST

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Lambert's Bay is a small fishing town some 280 kilometres north of Cape Town and is often referred to as 'the Diamond of the West Coast' due to its white beaches, prolific birdlife and crayfish. It is a paradise for bird-watchers and seafood lovers alike and also represents an ideal stop-over point for birders travelling between Cape Town and Namibia or the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. Bird-watching at Lambert's Bay and environs is however superb and the town serves as a practical base from which to explore the birding delights of the Cape West Coast region. Furthermore the town is very popular when the region's wild flowers that are most beautiful during spring.

The WEST COAST EAGLE'S NEST GUEST HOUSE in Lambert's Bay offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and is practically on the beach. This idyllic house with multiple units is the perfect place to relax and unwind, while experiencing the true beauty of the West Coast. It offers two large units with three bedrooms each and three single-bedroom flatlets on a self-catering basis. The lower unit offers an open-plan kitchen, living room and dining area all opening up onto the lawn and beach with an inside and outside braai, together with DSTV and wifi. The upper unit consists of a large living area, kitchen, dining room, inside braai, large balcony with outside braai and an incredible ocean view, as well as DSTV and wifi. All details concerning the design and lay-out of amenities can be found on the establishment's website – refer to contact details herewith. Eagle’s Nest represents perfect accommodation for break-aways or stop-overs for large or small groups. It can also serve as an ideal venue for bird club outings. The Eagle's Nest Guest House can therefore be used very effectively by couples or larger groups alike to explore the many birding opportunities on offer in the Lambert's Bay region.

Lambert's Bay is internationally renowned for the Bird Island Nature Reserve (32° 05’S 18° 18’E), recognised by BirdLife International as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area. The island is linked to the shore by a harbour wall and causeway from which many interesting species can be observed and photographed. Species here include most of the cormorants, the CAPE CORMORANT being particularly numerous, AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS, HARTLAUB'S and KELP GULLS and WHITE-FRONTED PLOVER. Expect to find vast numbers COMMON, SANDWICH and SWIFT TERNS, together with a variety of waders during summer months. Pelagic species such as the NORTHERN GIANT PETREL, SOOTY SHEARWATER and WHITE-CHINNED PETREL can sometimes be observed from the causeway, mostly during stormy weather in winter. Dolphins, whales and the ever entertaining Cape Fur Seals also often attract attention. Bird Island is, however, world renowned for its breeding flock of the CAPE GANNET. This is the only accessible land-based breeding flock in the world and the island has served as a conservation stronghold for this species for more than a hundred years. A convenient hide and information centre that allows for viewing through windows gives one the opportunity to watch the antics of the gannets from close quarters. Photographic opportunities are simply outstanding.

Birding in the surrounding areas should also not be underestimated. Jakkalsvlei (32° 05’24.01”S 18° 19’33.71”E) is a seasonal pan on the northern edge of Lambert’s Bay that is accessed through the caravan park. Birding here can be exceptional as the pan hosts many waterfowl when conditions are suitable. The Wadrif Salt Pan (S32° 12’12.69”S 18° 19’52.28”E) is an ephemeral pan 10 km south of the town is worth a visit, particularly after good winter rains and during spring. It normally dries out in summer. The Sishen-Saldanha railway line was unfortunately built through the pan in the 1970’s and has resulted in three pans now being available. The pans can be viewed from either the main road from Eland's Bay to Lambert’s Bay (spotting scopes required here), or from the railway service road. PIED AVOCET, MACCOA DUCK, both flamingos, CHESTNUT-BANDED PLOVER, SOUTH AFRICAN SHELDUCK and CAPE TEAL are often found here. A vagrant BAIRD'S SANDPIPER caused a sensation in birding circles when found here a few years ago.

To the east Clanwilliam is best known for its wildflowers and as the gateway to the Cederberg and the birding delights in the Pakhuis Pass. The truly spectacular annual Clanwilliam Wild Flower Show is unmissable. Birding in the town and surroundings can be exceptional. Ensure that the Clanwilliam Dam is explored, as waterfowl abound and breeding WHISKERED TERNS are often present in large numbers.

Try an interesting alternative when travelling from Cape Town to Lambert’s Bay: Roughly 10km south of Clanwilliam along the N7 a gravel road (signposted as Paleisheuwel) turns west to Kransvleipoort. (32° 27’54.99”S 18° 51’25.94”E). It soon follows a narrow gorge, and a slow stroll here is well worthwhile. Well known for its canaries, the area is regarded as one of the best spots to find the PROTEA SEEDEATER. There is a breeding pair of VERREAUX'S EAGLE, and the GROUND WOODPECKER is often found on rocky outcrops. Be on the lookout for the NAMAQUA WARBLER in the reed beds along the river, and LONG-BILLED CROMBEC, FAIRY FLYCATCHER and LAYARD'S TIT-BABBLER in scrubs along the hillsides. Travel from here via Paleisheuwel and Leipoldtville to Lambert’s Bay. Birding opportunities in the Lambert's Bay region is hugely underrated!