WESTERN CAPE BIRDING ROUTES:

The Overberg Birding Routes: Celebrating Avian Biodiversity

Several of South Africa's best-kept birding secrets are about to be revealed. With the development of the Overberg Birding Routes by BirdLife Overberg, the rich and diverse bird life of this southernmost region of Africa, best known for its striking scenery, pristine beaches, exceptional whale watching, shark diving and unrivalled fynbos, will also make this area a choice destination for local and international birders. The Overberg's lengthy coastal belt, towering Cape Fold Mountains, wide sheltered valleys and the remarkable Cape Floral Kingdom, host a vast array of birds, including many special and endemic species.

The area abounds with birding 'hotspots' with intriguing names. De Hoop, De Mond, Grootvadersbosch, Fernkloof, Stony Point, Harold Porter and Dyer Island spring to mind. These reserves are managed by a number of organisations, including local municipalities and CapeNature (formerly known as the Western Cape Nature Conservation Board). Birders will delight in the many special and endemic birds, including the Blue Crane (with three established meander routes), the Cape Sugarbird, Cape Rock-Jumper and Cape Siskin, Victorin's Warbler, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Black Harrier, Cape Penguin and African Black Oystercatcher, to name but a few. The Overberg has a number of different ecosystems and offers enthusiasts an opportunity of birding in mountain, coastal, river and estuarine habitats.

BirdLife Overberg is developing the Overberg Birding Routes to promote the area's avian riches among local and international birding fraternities. A bird checklist and a detailed information brochure are being produced; Birder Friendly Establishments are being registered and local bird guides, drawn from the surrounding communities, will soon begin training.

The Overberg's well known attractions have led to the establishment of an excellent year-round tourist infrastructure and visitors can supplement a varied and often unique birding experience with a variety of activities while enjoying the area's fine wines, foods and legendary hospitality. It is strategically situated.