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  • BirdLife Overberg members are currently putting together a long-weekend visit to Rietfontein (probably during May 2018).

    - 2018-02-24
  • Now here's a birding destination that offers the best of species from the dry west, as well as Garden Route specials

    - 2018-02-18

Rietfontein Self Catering Accommodation in the Ladismith district in the Klein Karoo hosts 5 fully furnished, self catering cottages nestled against the Touwsberg Mountains. This is midway between Barrydale and Ladismith, just off Route 62 and represents an ideal stop-over for bird-watchers not wanting to travel between Cape Town and the Garden Route along the N2 highway. The tranquility of Rietfontein Guest Farm offers vast open spaces, starry night skies, mountain biking, game viewing, bird-watching and nature trails. All cottages have their own private outdoor wood fired hot tub comfortably seating four people to further spoil guests. A cool swimming pool will bring relief during hot summer days. Most excitingly Rietfontein presents a Birder of the Month Competition for guests, the details of which may be found on the farm’s website.Rietfontein Guest Farm has a diversity of habitats where well over a hundred bird species occur. After good rains a wide variety of succulent plants bloom, attracting sunbirds, and in the valleys acacias provide a home for species such as mousebirds, canaries, weavers, Cape White-eye and Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler. At the cottages Greater Striped Swallows and Rock Martins build their nests under the eaves, and Acacia Pied Barbets excavate their nests in fence posts. The outstanding feature of birding at Rietfontein is that the diverse habitats host species associated with the arid west, as well as species normally associated with the Garden Route. Bird Atlas records confirm a brilliant mix of these birds making this destination a bird-watching paradise. A small patch of forest in the kloof behind Klipspringer cottage hosts so-called Garden Route specials such as the Bar-throated Apalis, Southern Boubou, Sombre Greenbul and Cardinal Woodpecker. Species that one would normally associate with the arid dry western regions such as the Great Karoo and Namaqualand like the Karoo Chat, Karoo Eremomela, Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Karoo Korhaan, Karoo and Spike-heeled Larks and Rufous-eared Warbler are recorded regularly. In fact, where else would one expect to find Cape and Pririt Batis, African Dusky and Fairy Flycatchers, Karoo Prinia and Namaqua Warbler, Pale-winged and Red-winged Starlings, Dusky and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds? Mountainous habitats on the farm delivers a different suite of species like the Cape Bunting, Jackal Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Verreaux’s Eagle, Lanner Falcon, Grey-winged Francolin, Rock Kestrel, Cape Rock-Thrush and Layard’s Tit-Babbler. Higher up where the longer hiking trails reach into fynbos fortunate bird-watchers may flush an elusive Hottentot Buttonquail. Other popular and often hugely sought-after endemics species on the farm may include the Bokmakierie, Cape Bulbul, Cape Penduline-Tit, Cape Spurfowl, Southern Tchagra and Ground Woodpecker. Other birds of prey recorded in the area include the Martial Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, Black Harrier, African Harrier-Hawk and Secretarybird. At night visitors should listen carefully for the possible calls of the Fiery-necked and Freckled Nightjars, Western Barn Owl and Spotted Eagle-Owl. Summer migrants present are the Common Buzzard and Yellow-billed Kite, together with a fine selection of swallows and swifts. To crown it all the Rietfontein Guest Farm could be used as an ideal base from which to explore the birding delights of the Klein Karoo and Overberg regions. The ever popular Tradouw Pass, the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve, the Anysberg Protected Area, Seweweekspoort and Matjiesvlei are within relative close proximity making the farm one of the top birding destinations along Route 62.