Birding Routes

THEEWATERSKLOOF BIRDING - INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS Show details

THE ENDEMIC AND OTHER SPECIAL BIRD SPECIES OF THE THEEWATERSKLOOF REGION Show details

BIRDING IN THE OVERBERG WHEATBELT IMPORTANT BIRD AND BIODIVERSITY AREA - INTRODUCTORY OVERVIEW Show details

THE SIR LOWRYS PASS SITE Show details

THE KOGELBERG BIOSPHERE RESERVE Show details


(NB! This section is still under production and will be completed by middle January 2016. - Ed.)

 

The area’s main attraction remains the KOGELBERG BIOSPHERE RESERVE, the first such UNESCO designated reserve in South Africa. This 70 000 hectare reserve has 1,850 plant species of which an astonishing 150 are endemic! An article on the birds found here has been published on www.westerncapebirding.co.za under the Overberg Birding Route section. Birding in this region comes highly recommended.
Birds of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve
Rob Martin & Jessie Walton
The Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve covers more than 100 000 hectares of both marine and terrestrial ecosystems and extends from below sea level to the mountain tops, the highest point being the Kogelberg Peak (1268 metres). Vast tracts of fynbos, major wetland systems, five towns and various settlements, agricultural lands, commercial forestry plantations and recreational resorts lie within the reserve. The Kogelberg Mountains and adjoining coastal lowlands are regarded as the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, home to 1650 plant species. These mountains, which make up most of the core of the reserve, cover some 30 000 hectares. To the east and north lie the Houwhoek and Groenlandberg mountain core zones. Together they encircle the largest town in the reserve, Grabouw, and the orchards and vineyards of the Elgin basin. [The above information was extracted from Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve: Heart of the Cape Flora by Amida & Mark Johns. Struik, 2001]

MOUNTAINOUS HABITATS
Natural vegetation and mountainous habitats in the greater Elgin region support a range of interesting and often endemic bird species, very often much sought-after. Prime destinations in this regard include the Sir Lowry's Pass site and the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, both of which are being discussed in detail elsewhere. All seven species that are endemic to fynbos are found in these natural areas. CAPE SUGARBIRD is abundant, while CAPE SISKIN and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD are common. Bird-watchers following the guidelines given under the Sir Lowry's Pass site have a fairly good chance of finding CAPE ROCK-JUMPER and VICTORIN'S WARBLER. Very few records of HOTTENTOT BUTTONQUAIL and PROTEA SEEDEATER have been noted in the area. Keep in mind that the last four species mentioned have very specific habitat requirements and that attention should be given to this in view of locating these species.
Several species, not exclusively confined to fynbos, are also most often seen in these mountainous areas. Very common species here include JACKAL BUZZARDS, NEDDICKY. and CAPE GRASSBIRD. Species found far less often include CAPE BUNTING, BOOTED and VERREAUX'S EAGLES, LANNER and PEREGRINE FALCONS, ROCK KESTREL and CAPE ROCK-THRUSH. SENTINEL ROCK-THRUSH, GREY-WINGED FRANCOLIN and GROUND WOODPECKER are present, but very limited sightings are on record.

ENDEMICS
Other very common endemics or near endemics in the area that visiting bird-watchers might want to look for are CAPE BULBUL, CAPE CANARY, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, KAROO PRINIA, CAPE SPURFOWL, SWEE WAXBILLS, CAPE WEAVER and CAPE WHITE-EYE. SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD and BOKMAKIERIE are common

WATER BODIES
The many water bodies in the Elgin region hold a diverse selection of abundant species.
Raliens include RED-KNOBBED COOT, COMMON MOORHEN and LITTLE GREBE, with BLACK CRAKE being seen less often. AFRICAN DARTER and REED and WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANT
YELLOW-BILLED DUCK, EGYPTIAN GOOSE, AFRICAN BLACK DUCK, RED-BILLED TEALS,
CATTLE EGRET, BLACK-HEADED HERON, GREY HERON, BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON, PURPLE HERON, LITTLE BITTERN, HAMERKOP,
BLACKSMITH LAPWING, AFRICAN SPOONBILL,
AFRICAN FISH-EAGLES, WESTERN OSPREY,
GIANT KINGFISHER, PIED and MALACHITE KINGFISHERS,
YELLOW BISHOP, LEVAILLANT'S CISTICOLA, LITTLE RUSH-WARBLER, CAPE WAGTAIL, COMMON WAXBILL, LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER, AFRICAN REED-WARBLER,
WHITE-BACKED, WHITE-FACED and SOUTHERN POCHARD, CAPE SHOVELER, and
and, KITTLITZ'S AND THREE-BANDED PLOVER,

A fascinating aspect of the bird-life is the presence of three species of flufftails: Red-chested, BUFF-SPOOTED and STRIPED FLUFFTAIL, They all frequent dense, almost impenetrable, vegetation and seldom venture into the open thus making their status difficult to assess. The Buff-spotted Flufftail occurs in at least four homestead gardens in the Elgin basin, its distinctive call drawing attention to its presence.

RAPTORS
Raptors are well-represented with no less than 22 species having been recorded. A pair of MARTIAL EAGLES breeds in the reserve and occasionally wanders over the villages of Grabouw and Gordon’s Bay. Forest Buzzards are common breeding residents concentrated in the alien pine plantations around Grabouw. Other raptors of this artificial habitat include FOREST BUZZARD, STEPPE BUZZARD and YELLOW-BILLED KITE in summer.
BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE, WESTERN OSPREY, BLACK HARRIERS are another threatened species, their numbers fluctuating from year to year. SECRETARYBIRD,
WELL WOODED AREAS
Birds occuring in well wooded habitats and gardens include CAPE BATIS, OLIVE THRUSH, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, SOMBRE GREENBUL, BAR-THROATED APALIS, AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON, and OLIVE WOODPECKER. BROWN-BACKED HONEYBIRD, The Fiery-necked Nightjar, the common nightjar of the reserve, would also be largely overlooked but for its very distinctive and far-carrying call. FOREST BUZZARD
AFRICAN GOSHAWK, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK, BLACK and RUFOUS-CHESTED SPARROWHAWKS. Another recent arrival is TAMBOURINE DOVE and it will be interesting to see if this species establishes a breeding population within the reserve.

MIGRANTS:
AFRICAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER,
Summer visitors from the Northern Hemisphere include BLACK SAWWING, BARN, GREATER STRIPED, PEARL-BREASTED and WHITE-THROATED SWALLOWS, ALPINE, LITTLE and WHITE-RUMPED SWIFTS common, AFRICAN BLACK and COMMON less so. White Stork, European Honey-Buzzard, Common Swift, Common House-Martin, Eurasian Golden Oriole, Marsh Warbler, SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, Willow Warbler and, rarely, the Garden Warbler. The Icterine Warbler has been reported in the past. RED-CHESTED CUCKOO, WHITE STORK,

OTHERS
The removal of apple orchards on some farms in the Elgin basin has resulted in more grassy fields. Several species, formerly uncommon in the area, have moved into this more open habitat. These include COMMON QUAIL, African Pipit and Zitting Cisticola.
There are a number of species that just manage to survive in the reserve although there is little suitable habitat for them. are found at a few localities but are difficult to locate. The just enters the reserve on the northern slopes of Sir Lowry’s Pass. Yellow Canaries used to occur regularly in Rooiels and Betty’s Bay but housing developments have all but destroyed the last vestiges of their favoured habitat and they are now largely confined to the fringes of the Bot River estuary.
Species that have greatly increased in numbers in recent years include Fork-tailed Drongo and Southern Grey-headed Sparrow. The recorded only on a few occasions in the reserve so far, is showing signs of invading the Western Cape and more records from the reserve can be expected. all of the region's common doves, BLUE CRANE, COMMON FISCAL, HELMETED GUINEAFOWL, NEDDICKY, CAPE ROBIN-CHAT, RED-WINGED STARLING, AFRICAN STONECHAT, MALACHITE SUNBIRD, FAMILIAR CHAT,
VAGRANT: AFRICAN OPENBILL,
Lists detailing the status of all bird species recorded in the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve and their occurrence there on a monthly basis are also available.
Rob Martin

(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).

Grey-winged Francolin
African Rail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cape Grassbird  (Images by AO)

 

 

Immature Little Bittern

THE HIGHLANDS AND VALLEY ROADS LOOPS Show details

THE ELGIN/ GRABOUW COUNTRY CLUB & EIKENHOF DAM Show details

HOTTENTOTS HOLLAND NATURE RESERVE Show details

VILLIERSDORP Show details

THE THEEWATERSKLOOF DAM Show details

BOTRIVER VILLAGE AND VAN DER STEL PASS Show details

THE KARWYDERSKRAAL AND SWARTRIVIER ROADS Show details

CALEDON VILLAGE Show details

THE CALEDON WILD FLOWER GARDEN Show details

THE OUDEKRAAL ROAD AND TESSELAARSDAL Show details

THE R326 BETWEEN STANFORD AND RIVIERSONDEREND Show details

THE R406 TO GREYTON Show details

GREYTON VILLAGE AND NATURE RESERVE Show details

THE R406 BETWEEN GREYTON AND RIVIERSONDEREND Show details

BIRDING IN AND AROUND RIVIERSONDEREND Show details

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Show details