BIRDING HOTSPOTS IN THE OVERSTRAND MUNICIPAL AREAPosted on the 31st December 2011
(This material was taken from the text of the brochure on birding in the Overberg produced by BirdLife Overberg and sponsored by Tru-Cape. This gives a brief overview of some of the top birding destinations in the Overstrand municipal area. - Ed.)
ROOIELS AND BETTY'S BAY
ROOIELS: The Rooiels “Cape Rock-jumper site” is probably the best place on earth to find this mega endemic and BirdLife Overberg’s logo bird. It forms part of the Eastern False Bay Mountains Important Bird Area (SA 107). Take the R44 from Gordon’s Bay to Kleinmond and at Rooiels take the second turn-off to the right (Porter Road). Park at the gate (roughly 1 km) and go further on foot. The Rock-jumpers are normally found to the left in the rocky habitats about 500 yards beyond the gate. First time overseas visitors can get up to 10 “lifers” at this spot. SPECIALS: Verreaux’s Eagle, Cape Rock-jumper, Cape Rock-Thrush, Cape Siskin, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Ground Woodpecker.
|Cape Bulbul. Image: Wilfred Crous|
STONY POINT AT BETTY’S BAY: Stony Point can be reached following the sign boards from the R44 when traveling through Betty’s Bay. It is one of only two mainland breeding colonies of African Penguin and the wooden boardwalk allows visitors to get really close to a variety of coastal birds. (A small entrance fee is payable). SPECIALS: Bank, Cape and Crowned Cormorants, African Black Oystercatcher, African Penguin, as well as a variety of terns and sometimes even pelagic species out to sea.
HAROLD PORTER BOTANICAL GARDENS: Harold Porter is situated right on the R44 and allows birders easy access to both fynbos and forest associated species. This is casual birding at its best as a section of the gardens is wheelchair-friendly and there is a great restaurant. (A small entrance fee is payable). SPECIALS: Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Cape Grassbird, Cape Sugarbird, Victorin’s Warbler. These three magnificent birding destinations are in close proximity to each other and this at the beginning of the Overberg. In essence it gives a “summary” of the specials of the Western Cape on a day outing from Cape Town. The Dawidskraal beach is also recommended - one can park at the gardens, cross over the R44 at the bridge and walk down a path to the sea.
KLEINMOND AND THE BOTRIVER ESTUARY
There are several interesting birding opportunities when traveling from Betty’s Bay to Hermanus along the R44 and R43. The KLEINMOND SEWERAGE WORKS recently produced a vagrant Citrine Wagtail and is often well worth a visit. Shortly hereafter (and to the left) there is the entrance to the OUDEBOS core conservation base of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve managed by CapeNature. There is a parking area to the left just as the bridge over the Palmiet River outside Kleinmond has been passed. A hiking trail leads from this spot through the Kogelberg Nature Reserve back to Betty’s Bay. This trail is not too strenuous and offers great birding. The first ridge after the trail starts (some three hundred meters) is regarded by many as the most reliable spot for Victorin’s Warbler, one of the great Western Cape endemics. Cape Rock-jumper and Ground Woodpecker can also be seen here.
|Blue Cranes in Wheatfields|
Access to the BOTRIVIERVLEI AND KLEINMOND ESTUARY is unfortunately fairly limited due to private land ownership along its shores. This is unfortunate as the estuary is an Important Bird Area. (SA 118). A bird hide has been developed recently at Rooisands in a collaborative project between CapeNature and Arabella - it is clearly signposted on the R44 between Kleinmond and the Arabella estate. Keep a keen lookout for Southern Tchagra along the access road and in summer watch out for waders along the boardwalk leading to the hide. Besides the waders, all of the region's terns, thick-knees, kingfishers, ducks, Sparrowhawks and a variety of other birds of prey can often be seen here. SPECIALS: African Openbill, European Oystercatcher, African Grassowl, Osprey and Hottentot Buttonquail have also been reported from this area. The wild horses found along this estuary are also a great tourist attraction.
HERMANUS is known for its land based whale watching between July and November and is a holiday and eco- tourism destination of note. Bird-watching here is outstanding and only a few spots are highlighted.
THE VERMONT SALT PAN: A great diversity of water associated birds are available here and in summer it is often possible to see up to 40 species during an hour’s visit. SPECIALS: Pied Avocet, Greater Flamingo, African Goshawk, Cape Shoveler, Black-winged Stilt.
ONRUS RIVER AND HARDERBAAI: The caravan camp at Onrus is recommended strongly as many interesting species are associated with the milkwood trees. A gentle stroll along Harderbaai during winter could show species such as Little Egret, Purple Heron and Black-crowned Night-Heron feeding out in open and in summer the area is known for its tern day roost. An ideal spot to hone one’s tern identification skills. SPECIALS: Cape Cormorant, Giant Kingfisher, African Black Oystercatcher and many terns.
|Cape Sugarbird female|
CLIFF PATH TRAIL: Leisurely strolls along the cliff paths in Hermanus allow whale and dolphin watching at its best combined with really good opportunities to watch coastal, fynbos, forest and garden birds. SPECIALS: Karoo Prinia, Southern Tchagra and a variety of fynbos specials - watch out for interesting gulls and terns though.
FERNKLOOF NATURE RESERVE: This is another one of the Overberg’s special bird-watching destinations. There are several casual and more strenuous hiking trails taking birders to fynbos, mountain and forest species as well as garden birds near the gate. SPECIALS: Verreaux’s Eagle, Cape Rock-Thrush, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird. The Hemel and Aarde valley is also recommended. Do great birding while sampling some of the valley’s award-winning wines.
STANFORD AND THE DANGER POINT PENINSULA
In birding circles STANFORD is known for the annual Stanford Bird Fair normally held in October. Birding is great here and the prime spot is the Appel dam and the picnic spot on the southern side of the village. Little Bittern is often seen and ducks include White-backed, African Black and White-faced Ducks. The milkwood trees at the picnic spot give access to a variety of great species. Don’t underestimate garden birding in the village and wetland birding along the river and wetlands trails though. A guide to “Birding in Stanford” by Brummer Olivier is available at the tourism office. Stanford can be used as based to explore the Klein river estuary, the Salmonsdam and Walker Bay Nature Reserves managed by CapeNature and the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve.
The DANGER POINT PENINSULA is rapidly developing a reputation as one of the prime birding destinations of the Overberg. The coastal road between Franskraal and the Danger Point lighthouse should be done in summer as many coastal birds are on view together with migrant waders such as Ruddy Turnstone, Common Whimbrel and several sandpipers. Remember to search the bushes for many great terrestrial species.
DYER ISLAND is an Important Bird Area (SA 120) and remarkable conservation work is being done here by CapeNature and the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. Do sponsor a penguin breeding box when the Great White House in Kleinbaai is visited. It is normally not possible to visit Dyer Island, but the birds can be seen from the boats of the whale watching and shark diving operators working in the area.
The Uilenkraals river and estuary, Flower Valley, Platbos and Baardskeerdersbos towards the interior and Pearly Beach and Groothagelkraal add many different species due to other habitat types.