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BIRDING IN THE UNIONDALE REGION

Posted on the 10th July 2012

THE UNIONDALE REGION

Uniondale can be reached via the Prince Alfred Pass either along the R339 from Knysna, or the R 340 from Plett. Pat Nurse of the Lakes Bird Club produced an in-depth description of some of the top birding sites along this route and these could be studied on the Eden Birding Route section of www.westerncapebirding.co.za Suggested sites include the Diepwalle Forest, Die Vlug, the Outeniqua Trout Farm and the Middle Keurbooms Conservancy. The section of road along the R341 from Plett goes along the banks of the Bitou estuary and river and birding here is exceptional. Great care should be taken in looking for waterbirds here and this is an outstanding area to look for migratory waders in summer. Indigenous forest patches are found once Die Vlug has been passed and here one can expect to find specials such as Forest Buzzard, Lemon Dove, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Chorister Robin-Chat and Knysna Turaco. Higher up in the pass the forest patches are interspersed with mountain fynbos and here look out for Cape Grassbird, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird and Victorin’s Warbler. The many rocky outcrops and cliffs may produce Cape Eagle-Owl, Cape Rock-Thrush, Cape Rock-jumper and Ground Woodpecker. Scan the skies for Booted and Verreaux’s Eagles, Perigrine Falcon and African Black and Alpine Swifts.(Keep in mind that the Prince Alfred Pass is mostly a single lane and could be rather treacherous in rainy conditions).At AVONTUUR XX one can either travel to George along the N9, or continue farther to Uniondale via the pass. The Uniondale Pass xx allows for sightings of most of the species expected in the passes to the north and west from here. Species associated with both and Karoo habitats are common making the trip from the coast very exciting due to the diversity of habitats. To the east of Uniondale lies the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Area and the many birding delights of the Eastern Cape Province. A drive from Uniondale to De Rust and from there the Little Karoo along the R339 and later the R341 come highly recommended. The area reminds a lot of typical landscapes that one would expect in the Eastern Cape and the sheer beauty of the mountainous areas should be experienced. The gravel road that connects the two mentioned roads and marked as the Hoekplaas road is strongly recommended by local birder, so give it a try.But what is the point of describing all of this? A trip from the Garden Route to Uniondale and beyond gives birders the opportunity to try for birds associated with coastal, water, forest, fynbos, mountain and Karoo habitats - the best that the Eden District municipal region has to offer. It might be a bit much for a day trip if one wants to return to the Garden Route, but why not drive along this route via the magic of the Little Karoo and Route 62 when returning to Cape Town to the Central Karoo? It is a real adventure and one is forced to drive slowly and it often makes for good birding.

 


 

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