WEEKLY FEATURE 34: BIRDING IN THE TULBAGH DISTRICT - PART 2Posted on the 18th August 2015
THE WELBEDACHT ROAD ENDING AT THE FOOT OF THE WINTERHOEK MOUNTAINS
This road meanders north from the village towards the mesmerizing Winterhoek Mountains. (Exit the town from Van Der Stel Street). It is highly recommended as it passes through a number of different habitat types, which result in a plethora of birds. Extensive vineyards and orchards are interspersed by streams and lush vegetation, of which mature trees with their associated forest species dominate. The TAMBOURINE DOVE, AFRICAN GOSHAWK, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK, BLACK and RUFOUS-CHESTED SPARROWHAWKS are present. The AFRICAN BLACK DUCK is frequently seen in the rapidly flowing sections of rivers and look out for the HAMERKOP, GREY HERON and AFRICAN SPOONBILL at rivers and dams. The PIED and GIANT KINGFISHERS are also reported regularly. The thickets and reeds along the water's edge often house the ACACIA PIED BARBET, LONG-BILLED CROMBEC, SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL, NAMAQUA WARBLER and most of the flycatchers of the region. Resident ROCK and BROWN-THROATED MARTINS are abundant, as are the gorgeous migratory swallows and swifts during summer.
The THEUNISKRAAL WINE ESTATE (33° 13′41″S 19° 8′7″E) is certainly worth a visit. “Theuniskraal, one of the town of Tulbagh’s best-known wine farms and South Africa’s very first white-wine estate, has a history as interesting, and as old, as the village itself.” Garden birding at this estate is undoubtedly recommended and the edges of the river superb for waterbirds. The owners will allow birding along the river on the farm if this is organised with Flippie Jordaan.
CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: +27 (0)73 774 5007 E-mail: email@example.com Website: http://www.theuniskraal.co.za/
|African Black Ducks (Image by Anton)|
|African Harrier-Hawk (Image by Carin Malan)|
A river with flourishing vegetation runs along the road between Theuniskraal and the beguiling Welbedacht Private Nature Reserve. Pay particular attention to species that are associated with forest habitats and thickets, such as the BAR-THROATED APALIS, CAPE BATIS, TAMBOURINE DOVE, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON and AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER in summer. More elusive birds include the SOUTHERN BOUBOU, LONG-BILLED CROMBEC, GREATER HONEYGUIDE, GREATER DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD and CARDINAL WOODPECKER.
THE WELBEDACHT PRIVATE NATURE RESERVE is regarded as the finest eco-tourism destination in the Tulbagh Valley and for this reason this text was taken directly from their website: “Nestled at the foot of the majestic Winterhoek Mountains in the Tulbagh Valley, only an hour and a half from Cape Town, Welbedacht Nature Reserve is a 153 hectare declared nature reserve under a long term stewardship agreement with CapeNature. Originally part of Winterhoek West, a family estate & fruit farm, Welbedacht was largely uncultivated due to its rocky mountainous slopes higher up and seasonal wetlands lower down. Although smaller parts of Welbedacht were under fruit, and some smaller areas still are, these parts are now being gradually returned to their natural state once more in an effort to restore and protect the high diversity of indigenous plant and animal life within the reserve. The reserve itself offers a diverse range of vegetation including mountain fynbos, renosterveld and the wetland’s red-listed aluvium fynbos. Within these wonderful, wild areas you will find an abundance of different bird-life, plant species and a range of flowers for each season. There are several dams as well as a combination of marked and maintained walking trails traversing the reserve along which many different species of small game can be spotted; there are also springbok, bontebok, wildebeest and zebra. At Welbedacht, we offer self-catering cottage accommodation as well as accommodation for bigger groups at The Blue Butterfly. There are marked trails for walking, dams for swimming and an abundance of bird life and plant life. Birding here is superb. From tall, leafy trees that provide shelter, to the fynbos with its vast variety of plant life, and the savannah wetland grasses that provide an abundant food source for dozens of species of raptors and hundreds of other species, Welbedacht is a haven for birds and bird-watchers alike.” The reserve hosts a myriad of varied habitat types and many local birders describe it as the crème de la crème of birding destinations in the region. Species of note in this area include the GROUND WOODPECKER around the Oukloof MTN tower and the VICTORIN'S WARBLER, which is easily found along the bracken covered slopes. However, knowledge of the bird's call is advisable when trying to locate this highly desired endemic species. Day visitors are, unfortunately, not accommodated.
CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: +27 (0)83 952 5448 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.welbedachtreserve.co.za
|Long-billed Crombec (Image by Anton)|
More active bird-watchers should consider birding along the MURLUDI HIKING TRAIL. (33° 11'41”S 19° 10'12”E). Trails of varying length and levels of endurance are available. The shorter trail runs along the river and exposes hikers to farming activities and beautiful mountain fynbos. The longer trail, the Elsbos route, incorporates the shorter river tail, but then continues for another 6 km through mature fynbos along the lower hills of the picturesque Witzenberg Mountains.
CONTACT DETAILS: Permits are available from the Tulbagh Tourism Office +27 (0) 230 1348 or from the owners at +27 (0)23 230 0732.
BIRDING ALONG THE ROAD TO WOLSELEY
The road from Tulbagh to Wolseley differs greatly from the two routes described earlier as it presents open, refreshing farming areas dominated by wheatfield, rather than vineyards, orchards and dense vegetation. This offers a completely different array of birds to those discussed earlier and makes a birding visit to the Tulbagh region that much more appealing and worthwhile. Caution is advised as this road usually carries heavy traffic despite broad road verges mostly in play. The key species to look for include the BLUE CRANE, BLACK HARRIER and SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN. Raptors found commonly are the JACKAL BUZZARD, PEREGRINE FALCON, ROCK KESTREL and BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE. In summer, the MARTIAL EAGLE is occasionally seen, but the numbers of migratory STEPPE BUZZARDS and YELLOW-BILLED KITES are far more generous. Pleasantly common species include the SOUTHERN RED and YELLOW BISHOPS, CAPE CROW, BLACK-HEADED HERON, LARGE-BILLED and RED-CAPPED LARKS, AFRICAN PIPIT, KAROO PRINIA, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER, PIED STARLING, AFRICAN STONECHAT and CAPPED WHEATEAR, but watch out for the sporadic LESSER KESTRELS during summer. One, with a bit of good fortune, might spot species found less frequently in this habitat type including the FAMILIAR CHAT, GREY-BACKED and ZITTING CISTICOLAS, NAMAQUA DOVE, CROWNED LAPWING, CAPE LONGCLAW, NEDDICKY, LONG-BILLED PIPIT, WATTLED STARLING and ALPINE and LITTLE SWIFTS.
|Black Harrier (Image by Carin Malan)|
|Southern Black Korhaan female (Image by Anton)|
Three premiere destinations are featured along this route. The GUINEVERE GUEST FARM (33° 34'39”S 19° 16'17”) features a variety of habitat types ranging from beautiful fynbos and renosterveld to boulder strewn hills and a small river flourishing with vegetation. The species list, therefore, includes species as diverse as the JACKAL BUZZARD, BLACK HARRIER, HALF-COLLARED KINGFISHER, SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN, CAPE SISKIN, CAPE SUGARBIRD and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD. Novice birders will have their identification skills tested to the limit with the assortment of LBJs on the farm. It is recommended that a few nights be spent at Guinevere as birding is sublime and it is primely situated to explore the birding delights of surrounding areas.
CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: +27 (0)23 004 0149 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.guinevereguestfarm.com
The WILD OLIVE FARM is nestled in the foothills of the mesmerising Witzenberg mountain range, but the centrepiece is a number of dams featuring excellent waterbird viewing. Visitors even talk about “the bird-watching dams”. It is an active olive farm, but expect to watch birds in a tranquil and scenic environment. One will easily find the common water birds of the region, but look out for the GREAT CRESTED, LITTLE and BLACK-NECKED GREBES, HAMERKOP, PURPLE HERON, GIANT and MALACHITE KINGFISHERS and CAPE SHOVELER. The reed beds and thickets may feature the LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA, BLACK CRAKE, COMMON MOORHEN, LITTLE RUSH-WARBLER and LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER, with AFRICAN REED-WARBLER being present in summer.
CONTACT DETAILS: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: http://wildolivefarm.com/
|Great Crested Grebe (Image by Craig Adam)|
|Red-billed Teals (Image by Anton)|
HORSE ABOUT (33° 34'94”S 19° 16'41”E) represents something completely different, because they specialise in horseback trails through picturesque mountainous landscapes. During summer months, they offer a tipi campsite for those who enjoy escaping into nature. Certainly, birding on horseback is not everyone's cup of tea, but many exciting species are on record on the farm and the access to fynbos areas for bird-watching is unparalleled. The AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE and SECRETARYBIRD are seen quite frequently and the dams host a wide selection of waterbirds. The renosterveld produces the majority of regional LBJs and fynbos habitats offer most of the endemic species associated with it. Sightings of the CAPE BATIS, EUROPEAN BEE-EATER, JACKAL BUZZARD, BLUE CRANE, BLACK HARRIER, AFRICAN HOOPOE and CAPE SUGARBIRD were also taken note of. Day visiting birders who do not wish to ride horses are welcome to utilise the many hiking trails on the farm , but kindly contact management in advance. A thorough bird list is currently being developed.
CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: +27 (0)82-884 9881 E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.horseabout.co.za
Three additional destinations further along the R46, namely WAVERLEY HILLS ORGANIC WINES, THE RIVER SIDING and WHITE BRIDGE FARM, will be discussed under the description of the Wolseley district to follow later.
|Black Crake (Image by Richard Masson)|
|Yellow-billed Kite (Image by Craig Adam)|
|Karoo Prinia (Image by Charles Naude)|
|Cape Clapper Lark (Image by Richard Masson)|