Birding Routes

BIRDING IN THE WITZENBERG REGION - INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS Show details

THE ENDEMIC AND OTHER SPECIAL SPECIES OF THE WITZENBERG REGION Show details

THE MOUNTAIN PASSES OF THE WITZENBERG REGION Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 1 - GENERAL INTRODUCTION Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 2 - THE TWEE JONGEGEZELLEN ROAD Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 3 - THE THEUNISKRAAL ROAD Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 4 - THE ROAD TO WOLSELEY Show details

BAINSKLOOF PASS AND BERGSIG WINE ESTATE Show details

BERGSIG WINE ESTATE TO WOLSELEY - AN ALTERNATIVE ROUTE Show details

WOLSELEY AND MICHELLS PASS Show details

BIRDING IN CERES Show details


Ceres is a town that can be described as being at the crossroads of a true Western Cape birding wonderland. Several superlatives such as 'Eden of the Cape' and 'Valley of Fruitfulness' are used in literature when Ceres is described. During the winter months, the picturesque mountains are often covered in snow and the area has been referred to as 'Little Switzerland'. The valley produces of the finest deciduous fruit in South Africa. It is celebrated for its delicious fresh and dried fruit, fruit juices and natural spring water. 

The Ceres district consists of four diverse areas – each with its own unique charm and landscapes. The town is an ideal base to explore these areas through a variety of scenic drives. The WARM BOKKEVELD enclose Ceres and Prince Alfred’s Hamlet and is the centre of one of the richest agricultural regions of the Western Cape. BO-SWAARMOED is a distinctive farming area situated at the foot of the Matroosberg Mountains, which is famous for its cherry picking in season, snow during winter, proteas and breathtakingly panoramic views of the Ceres valley. KOUE BOKKEVELD features the cosy village of Op-die-Berg and is the heart of this highland fruit and vegetable producing area. The CERES KAROO is a spectacular semi-arid area, with endless horizons, which boasts unique indigenous animal and plant life. It is used to access the exceptional TANKWA-KAROO NATIONAL PARK. 

Furthermore, Ceres may be used as a convenient base to travel circular routes, which allow access to the gorgeous mountain passes. Here, endemic bird species and other noteworthy birds associated with fynbos and Karoo habitats may be found. This description will initially focus on birding opportunities in the town itself. Thereafter, two striking, recommended circle routes from Ceres, that may be used to delve into the region, will be discussed. The first circle route traverses the worthwhile Swaarmoed Pass, Bo-Swaarmoed farming area, Droëhoek Road and Gydo Pass. The second circle route is substantially longer and mostly highlights the plentiful birding opportunities through the Ceres Karoo and Swartruggens Plateau. Some other thrilling destinations chronicled include the Theronsberg Pass, Karoopoort, R355 through the Tankwa Karoo, Tankwa Farm Stall, Katbakkies picnic site, Swartruggens Plateau and Gydo Pass. Finally, the birding delights of the Tankwa-Karoo National Park will be discussed in great detail. 

Many locals rightfully regard the CERES GOLF CLUB (33°22'32”S 19° 18'13”E) at the entrance to Ceres from Michell's Pass as the prime birding hot spot in town. Leisurely walks around the course offer unforgettable views of the surrounding mountains, which together with the rugged hills, can produce a diversity of species. Most of the common garden birds found in the region are on display. Waterbirds observed include cormorants, several ducks, AFRICAN DARTER, LITTLE EGRET, HAMERKOP, GREY and PURPLE HERONS, GIANT KINGFISHER, COMMON MOORHEN and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. Other exciting species found regularly include VERREAUX'S EAGLE, SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK, ROCK KESTREL, BROWN-HOODED KINGFISHER, BARN OWL and CAPE SPURFOWL. This is a top-notch area to test one's identification skills of tricky species as several of the region's LBJs are found as well as swallows, swifts and martins, which are abundant in summer.
CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: +27 (0)79 550 4515 or +27(0)23 312 3068 E-mail: ceresgolf@polka.co.za Website: www.ceresgolfclub.co.za

(There is more text below these photographs)

Black-crowned Night-Heron  (Image by RM)
African Harrier-Hawk  (Image by CM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A visit to the Togryers Museum should also be considered at Ceres. The name "Togryers Museum" or Transport Riders’ Museum originated from the huge influence that the transport riders had on the development of Ceres. The completion of Michell's Pass in 1848 made the town accessible to wagons, and one of the main routes to the diamond fields went through Ceres. The visitor to the museum can learn more about the natural history of the area, the history of the San and their Rock paintings, the establishment of Ceres, Meteorite Fall in 1838, the life of the Transport riders, the destructive earthquake in 1969, the forced removals during 1960 and and many more displays.” For more information visit www.ceresmuseum.co.za or our Facebook Group “ Ceres Transport Riders’ Museum”

The more adventurous birder should consider a rendezvous with CERES ZIPLINE ADVENTURES – the rugged mountain scenery is astounding and many excellent birds can be observed. The DEJA BREW COFFEE SHOP is situated next to the Ceres Zipline Adventure office at the entrance of the town (33° 22'32”S 19° 17'54”E). Enjoy a meal here, but scan the surrounding rocky outcrops as the CAPE BUNTING, FAMILIAR CHAT, BOOTED EAGLE, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH and even the GROUND WOODPECKER have been observed. However, the best spot to search for these species that are associated with mountainous habitats is certainly a trail that leads to the town's dam. It is found at the pine plantation behind the hospital. (33° 21'38”S 19° 17'53”E). Besides the species already mentioned , other reliable reports include the VERREAUX'S EAGLE, CAPE ROCK-JUMPER, SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSH, occasional PROTEA SEEDEATER and VICTORIN'S WARBLER.

The PINE FOREST HOLIDAY RESORT (entrance at 33° 21'59”S 19° 17'59”E) brings a completely different set of species to the fore and birding here comes highly recommended. A river gushes through it and there are many attractive dams and ponds featuring most of the region's waterbirds. Look particularly for the AFRICAN BLACK DUCK and the area is well known for its warblers. A recent, memorable outing produced the BAR-THROATED APALIS, CAPE BATIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, LONG-BILLED CROMBEC, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON, GREATER and SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRDS and CARDINAL WOODPECKER. The AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER is common in summer.
CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: +27 (0)23 316 1882 E-mail: ralda@witzenberg.gov.za Website: www.pineforest.co.za

The CERES and PRINCE ALFRED HAMLET area offers an immoderate amount of accommodation establishments from luxury game reserves, a nature reserve, guesthouses, bed & breakfasts, a holiday resort, self-catering units, farm cottages to mountain & eco-huts, and camp sites. There are far too many to mention! Consult the link to 'ACCOMMODATION IN CERES' in the dropdown menu below. From a birding perspective, the region serves as a wonderful base to explore the circle routes that are now described. 
(Note that there are links to more information, trip reports and the like below the photographs that may be used to further plan a visit to the area)

Rock formations near the Ceres Golf Club (AO)
The trail towards the dam  (Image by AO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ericas along trail (Image by AO)
Southern Double-collared Sunbird (Image by RM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Bishops  (Image by RM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barn Owl  (Image by DM)
Cape Rock-Thrush  (Image by AO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - CERES TO KAROOPOORT Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - KAROOPOORT TO TANKWA FARM STALL Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - KATBAKKIES TO OP-DIE-BERG Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - OP-DIE-BERG TO CERES Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 2 - SWAARMOED PASS & BO-SWAARMOED FARMING AREA Show details

CIRCLE ROUTE FROM CERES 2 CONTINUED - THE DROEHOEK ROAD TO GYDO PASS Show details

THE TANKWA-KAROO NATIONAL PARK - THE P2250 GRAVEL ROAD Show details

THE TANKWA KAROO NATIONAL PARK 2 - OUDEBAASKRAAL AND SURROUNDS Show details

THE TANKWA KAROO NATIONAL PARK 3 - THE INTERIOR ROADS AND ACCOMMODATION Show details

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Show details