BIRDING GEMS OF THE OVERBERG: THE SWARTRIVIER ROAD
Posted on the 29th December 2012
Dawid and Carin Malan and myself decided to go birding along the Swartrivier road this morning (Saturday 29 December 2012). There was a warning of gale force winds, but fortunately it was very quite for most of the morning allowing for wonderful birding and photographic opportunities. We decided to give a brief overview of what we had found in the form of a photo article of images we managed to take today.
Blue Cranes with chicks (CM)
Peregrine Falcon (CM)
The KARWYDERSKRAAL and SWARTRIVIER loop roads do represent high quality wheatfield birding in close proximity to Hermanus and Cape Town. The Karwyderskraal road can be reached from two points (S34° 15'47.14” E19° 10'54.65”) and (S34° 21'35.10” E19° 08'35.87”) along the R43 and can give comfortable access to larger birds such as Denham’s Bustard, Blue Crane, White Pelican and even Secretarybird. Most of the area’s LBJ’s could be studied along this road and the three buzzards, African Marsh-Harrier and Black Harrier, the two kites and a variety of accipiters, together with African Fish-Eagle and Osprey have been observed here.
Dark Steppe Buzzard (AO)
Paler Steppe Buzzard (CM)
The Swartrivier road (S34° 17'02.64” E19° 11'09.72”) is a dirt road that stretches between the farmstead on the Karwyderskraal road and the N2 by the Gabriëlskloof wine estate close to Botriver town. This is a fairly quiet road and one can really bird at leisure. This affords locals the opportunity to compare the difficult LBJ’s of the region and visitors to get several of the region’s specials and endemics.
Large-billed Lark with food item (AO)
Orange-breasted Sunbird (CM)
The Swartrivier road is well known for its birds of prey in summer and we managed to locate Jackal and Steppe Buzzards, Peregrine Falcon, African Fish-Eagle, Rock Kestrel, Black-shouldered and Yellow-billed Kites and African Marsh-Harrier. The most exciting was that we could photograph both the dark brown and paler morphs of the Steppe Buzzards.
Grey-backed Cisticola (AO)
Zitting Cisticola (AO)
As far as LBJ's are concerned we racked up all of the cisticolas, larks and pipits that the region has on offer. Breeding birds that were carrying food included Large-billed Larks, Cloud and Grey-backed Cisticolas and Long-billed Pipits. It is just so wonderful to travel slowly down a quiet country road at this time of year and be able to compare the differences between these cryptically coloured birds.
Dragonfly 1 (DM)
Dragonfly 2 (DM)
The area around the low water bridge also did not disappoint as it produced many Barn, Greater Striped and White-throated Swallows, Sand Martins and Alpine Swifts. We picked up the calls of three warblers and the usual Sacred Ibises and Cattle Egrets were on show. Other interested birds in this general area included South African Shelduck, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Spotted Thick-knee.
Cape Clawless Otters are present (DM)
Common Moorhen & young (AO)
In total we managed to identify 74 species in the three and a half hours that we spent along the Swartrivier road. Brunch and coffee beckoned and we spent some time at the restaurant at the Gabrielskloof wine estate. This comes highly recommended - an ideal stop-over after some intense (and very hot) birding. By the time we left the restaurant the wind had picked dramatically and we decided to call it a day.
White-throated Swallow (AO)
Barn Swallow (AO)
The Swartrivier road is to be regarded as a must for serious birders when visiting Hermanus, Botriver or Caledon, or when just passing through the area. (I was not highly motivated to write a decent trip report and decided to rather load a whole bunch of images).
Peregrine Falcon 2 (CM)
The first BLO member to id this in the user comments wins a bottle of wine (CM)