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

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


The second circle route traverses the Swaarmoed Pass, Bo-Swaarmoed farming area, Droëhoek Road and Gydo Pass. It takes birders through several of the beautiful scenic routes available around Ceres. The R46 from Ceres to Karoopoort is taken initially and the entire route again deserves dedicated slow birding. Many accommodation establishments in the form of 'farmstays' are on offer of which a selected few will be highlighted. The TWEELING DAM is found roughly 10 km east of Ceres. (S33° 19'39.95” E19° 24'13.76”). Bird-watching here can be very rewarding, particularly during spring and early summer when large numbers of waterbirds and waders can be present. Note that the dam is often very dry during late summer and autumn. The dam lies on both sides of the road and parking under the blue-gum trees to the western side is advised. BLACK-NECKED, GREAT CRESTED and LITTLE GREBES all occur, along with PIED AVOCET, AFRICAN SPOONBILL, BLACK-WINGED STILT and most of the duck species to be found in the region. SOUTH AFRICAN SHELDUCK is often present in large numbers. Migratory waders in summer regularly include COMMON GREENSHANK, COMMON RINGED PLOVER, RUFF, COMMON, CURLEW, MARSH and WOOD SANDPIPERS and LITTLE STINT. The vegetation along the water's edge hold SOUTHERN RED and YELLOW BISHOPS, LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA, KAROO PRINIA, LITTLE RUSH-WARBLER, LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER and AFRICAN REED-WARBLER in summer, as well as most of the region's doves and sparrows. Also be on the lookout for more secretive and often inobtrusive species such as BURCHELL'S COUCAL and BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE and WESTERN OSPREY have also been recorded occationally.

Turn off the R46 12 km outside Ceres (33° 19'05”S 19° 24'53”E) towards the SWAARMOED PASS and the BO-SWAARMOED FARMING AREA. This farming area is nestled at the foot of the Matroosberg Mountain and is famous for its cherry picking in season, snow during winter, proteas, and breathtaking panoramic views of the Ceres valley. It has its own unique charm and landscapes. The initial section of this tarred road runs through a relatively flat farming area where the wheatfields may produce many BLUE CRANES and the odd SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN. This area is excellent for LBJs and expect to find common species such as LARGE-BILLED and RED-CAPPED LARKS, AFRICAN PIPIT, KAROO PRINIA, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER, AFRICAN STONECHAT and CAPPED WHEATEAR. Other common species include SOUTHERN RED and YELLOW BISHOPS, CAPE CROW, CATTLE EGRET, BLACK-HEADED HERON, CROWNED LAPWING, CAPE LONGCLAW and PIED and WATTLED STARLINGS.

The SWAARMOED PASS starts at 33° 20'03”S 19°28'02”E. It leads to the Klondyke and Matroosberg farms famous for its snow in winter. The Matroosberg peak is the second highest peak in the Western Cape. Kindly note that this road can carry extremely high traffic during the winter snows. It is best to then visit the area during the week as weekends become very congested. Attention should be given to some of the several safe lay-by's that have been constructed along the pass. Spend enough time at the view point overlooking the Ceres Valley. (33° 20'19”S 19° 29'21”E) The sweeping views over this valley and the surrounding mountains is something to behold. The mountain slope across the road hosts a mature stand of fynbos dominated by 'wabome'. This area is very good for CAPE GRASSBIRD, PROTEA SEEDEATER, CAPE SUGARBIRD and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD. This lay-by also offers views over cliffs to the south-west – BOOTED and VERREAUX'S EAGLES, PEREGRINE FALCON, ROCK KESTREL and WHITE-NECKED RAVEN have all been recorded here.

Another viewpoint (33° 20'27”S 19° 29'46”E) offers spectacular views of a valley towards the north with Theronsberg Pass in the distance. Raptors to look for include JACKAL BUZZARD, LANNER FALCON, SOUTHERN PALE CHANTING GOSHAWK and BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE, with BLACK HARRIER being recorded occasionally. STEPPE BUZZARD and YELLOW-BILLED KITE occur in summer. Near the summit of the pass (33° 20'28”S 19° 32'26”E) alpine like scenes overlooking the LAKENVLEI DAM and the often snow-capped mountains await. Possible access to the Lakenvlei Dam is currently being negotiated as it hosts vast numbers of waterbirds.

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View over Lakenvlei Dam towards Matroosberg (AO)
Duckpond Cottage at Klondyke (AO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Two destinations in the Bo-Swaarmoed farming area should be taken note of – the Klondyke Cherry Farm and the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve. Both of these farms have mature, well wooded farm yards and gardens and many dams and ponds. A recent visit to Klondyke produced many common birds such as BOKMAKIERIE, CAPE SPARROW, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER, SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD, KAROO THRUSH and CAPE WEAVER. To this should be added FAMILIAR CHAT, BROWN-THROATED and ROCK MARTINS, WHITE-BACKED MOUSEBIRD and SOUTHERN MASKED-WEAVER and most of the other common doves, mousebirds and sparrows to be expected in the region. Specials seen were BLACK HARRIER, CAPE SISKIN and NAMAQUA WARBLER. Both SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL and BARN OWL were very active at night. 

Hikes around these farms allows access to a variety of dams, marshy areas and other water bodies where prolific numbers of waterbirds are on view. A visit here produced BLACK CRAKE, AFRICAN DARTER, AFRICAN BLACK DUCK, all three grebes, PURPLE HERON, MALACHITE KINGFISHER, AFRICAN SNIPE and AFRICAN SPOONBILL to just mention a few. It is evident that this area holds great bird-watching potential, particularly when the arrival of the summer migrants is taken into consideration. It can further be used as base to explore the top birding destinations that the region has to offer, such as the Droëhoek area, Karoopoort, the Ceres Karoo and the Tankwa-Karoo National Park.
The KLONDYKE CHERRY FARM (33° 18'53”S 19° 34'52”E) is a working fruit farm with cherries, pears and apples, famous for cherry picking in summer.
CONTACT: Tel: (+27) 087 550 0232 or +27 (02)3 312 1521 E-mail: info@klondyke.co.za
Website: www.cherryfarm.co.za
The MATROOSBERG PRIVATE NATURE RESERVE (33° 19'48”S 19° 36'39”E) covers more than 1000 ha of mountain area, and reaches the Matroosberg Peak. It is most famous as the top destination to experience snow in winter and allows day visitors. Details of this are available in the dropdown menu below.
CONTACT – Tel: +27 (0)23 312 2282 or +27 (0)73 194 0885 E-mail: info@matroosberg.com Website: www.matroosberg.com
Beyond Matroosberg the road become gravel until it eventually rejoins the R46 in the Theronsberg Pass. This scenic drive offers similar birding experiences as that discussed earlier and should not be underestimated. The farm UITKYK (33° 16'19”S 19° 38'34”E) is of particular interest and can be investigated.

Continue west along the THERONSBERG PASS until the DROËHOEK ROAD is reached. (33° 15'34”S 19° 37'16”E). 

(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).

Ceres Valley from Swaarmoed lookout  (AO)
It's cold at Matroosberg (Image by AO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

African Darters at nest   (Image by AO)
Malachite Kingfisher  (Image by RM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Waxbills  (Image by RM)

 

Snowman at Klondyke Farm (Image provided)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Klondyke Farm landscape 1 (Image provided)

 

Klondyke farm landscape 2 (Image provided)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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