Birding Routes

INTRODUCTION TO BIRDING ALONG THE CAPE WHALE COAST Show details

ENDEMIC BIRD SPECIES OF THE CAPE WHALE COAST REGION Show details

PELAGIC ENCOUNTERS FROM KLEINBAAI IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE DYER ISLAND CONSERVATION TRUST Show details

THE ROOIELS SITE - IN SEARCH OF THE CAPE ROCK-JUMPER Show details

AFRICAN PENGUINS AND CORMORANTS AT STONY POINT Show details

THE HAROLD PORTER NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDENS Show details


The HAROLD PORTER NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDEN (34˚21’08.89”S 18˚55’37.74”E) is situated right on the R44 and allows birders easy access to fynbos, wetlands, forest and mountain associated habitats. This is casual birding at its best as a section of the garden is wheelchair-friendly and there is a convenient restaurant with comfortable and clean ablutions. The garden is best known for its many botanical delights and a walk up Disa Kloof in search of the Red Disas that are in bloom up at the waterfall from the end of December and most of January is highly recommended.

The Garden is described as follows on the local tourism website: “This beautiful, secluded garden is set between mountain and sea, in the heart of the Cape Fynbos region and encompasses 10 hectares of cultivated Fynbos garden and 190.5 hectares of pristine natural Fynbos. The garden is open 365 days a year from 08h00. It closes at 16h30 on weekdays and 17h00 over weekends and on public holidays. A small entrance fee is applicable, but members of the Botanical Society have free entrance if they display their cards. Ask for details at the entrance. Situated in the centre of the coastal Fynbos where the flora is at its richest, the garden encompasses mountain slopes with their wind-clipped heathlands, deep gorges with relict forests, flats and marshes with restios, sedges and bulbs, as well as dunes adjacent to the beach with their specialised salt-adapted plants. The garden is renowned for its waterfalls and amber pools. The main fynbos families (proteas, ericas and restios) are present as well as other important families such as irises, daisies and orchids. The garden boasts Disa uniflora in its natural habitat (flowering from mid-December to end of January) as well as the national flower, the king protea (Protea cynaroides). The garden also has several kilometres of nature trails that provide scenic views of mountains and coastline.” Detailed information on the various hiking trails can be found in some of the links below, or at the garden's reception. Note that pensioners can enter the garden for free on the first Tuesday of each month.

BirdLife Overberg members enjoying lunch at the restaurant
Swee Waxbill (Craig Adam)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This description will now focus on the birds to looked for in the lower section of the gardens and around the restaurant, as well as the well-wooded trail leading up the Disa Kloof. Endemic species that are abundant in the lower garden are the KAROO PRINIA, CAPE SPURFOWL, SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD, CAPE SUGARBIRD and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD. Other resident species that are abundant are the CAPE ROBIN-CHAT, RED-WINGED STARLING and CAPE WAGTAIL. Other common endemic species include the CAPE CANARY, CAPE GRASSBIRD, CAPE SPARROW and SWEE WAXBILL. Also expect to find the YELLOW BISHOP, FAMILIAR CHAT, ROCK MARTIN, SPECKLED MOUSEBIRD, WHITE-NECKED RAVEN, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH and MALACHITE SUNBIRD. Species that are encountered less often include the CAPE BUNTING, BRIMSTONE CANARY, NEDDICKY and the endemic CAPE SISKIN. Large numbers of the BLACK SAWWING and all of the other swallows and swifts to be expected in the region are present during summer months. The lower gardens of the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden offer some of the best bird-watching opportunities in the Western Cape Province. To this should be added the sheer natural beauty of the mountainous landscape and outstanding interpretive signage developed and maintained by SANBI. The HAROLD PORTER BOTANICAL GARDEN certainly represents an eco-tourism experience to behold. 

Orange-breasted Sunbird  (Anton Odendal)
Cape Siskin  (Charles Naude)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The excellent birding experiences of this reserve do however not end here. A hike up Disa Kloof towards the waterfall gives access to a different suite of birds as many sought-after species normally associated with forest habitats now come into play. But firstly the melodious call of the hugely sought-after endemic VICTORIN'S WARBLER can often be heard from the mountain slopes when walking up the kloof. The best spot to look for this bird is at the extensive patch of bracken fern at the beginning of the Disa Kloof trail before the first bridge is reached. Several photographers have been able to add images of this special, but very secretive little bird to their collection at this spot. Time should also be spent on the bridge as such. Several skulking species can often be seen in the rank vegetation along the river and the distinctive calls of the LESSER SWAMP-WARBLER and LITTLE RUSH-WARBLER, as well as that of the AFRICAN REED-WARBLER during summer months often ring out from the dense vegetation. This is a good spot to look for the AFRICAN BLACK DUCK. Also look out for the CAPE BUNTING, CAPE ROCK-THRUSH and GROUND WOODPECKER along the rocky outcrops.

Endemic species to look out for in the well-wooded areas higher up the trail include the CAPE BATIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, CAPE BULBUL, FISCAL FLYCATCHER and CAPE WHITE-EYE. Other resident species that are prominent are the BAR-THROATED APALIS, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, SOMBRE GREENBUL and OLIVE THRUSH. Also look carefully for the SPOTTED FLYCATCHER during summer months. The target birds along this trail are however the BLUE-MANTLED CRESTED-FLYCATCHER and OLIVE WOODPECKER, with the AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER being particularly numerous in summer months. The MALACHITE and PIED KINGFISHERS are often seen along the river as one hikes towards the waterfall. Members of BirdLife Overberg have an annual morning outing to the garden during January to see the Disa uniflora at the waterfall, with the mentioned target species always being on the 'hit-list'. The reserve further boasts with an impressive list of birds of prey. The JACKAL BUZZARD, VERREAUX'S EAGLE and ROCK KESTREL can often be seen soaring overhead and observant birders might be able to locate difficult to see species such as the AFRICAN GOSHAWK, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK and BLACK and RUFOUS-CHESTED SPARROWHAWKS. 

African Paradise-Flycatcher (Carin Malan)
Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher (Carin Malan)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The garden has further developed a reputation for delivering species that are vagrant to the region and here specials such as the BUSH BLACKCAP, BLACK CUCKOO-SHRIKE, BROWN-BACKED HONEYBIRD and VIOLET-BACKED STARLING have in recent years caused great excitement in birding circles. The HAROLD PORTER BOTANICAL GARDEN certainly ranks as one of the top bird-watching destinations in the Western Cape Province. One only has to look at the number of bird clubs in the region that regularly organise outings to the garden to understand the popularity of this destination. The diversity of bird species, the stupendous Fynbos dominated vegetation and a convenient restaurant all contribute to making this botanical garden a safe and secure venue for casual Western Cape birding at its best.

The three major birding sites (Rooiels, Stony Point and the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden) in the greater Betty's Bay and Pringle Bay area give a very good “summary” of Western Cape birding in close proximity to Cape Town and Hermanus. A day visit to the area can easily produce more than 100 species. There are however other promising birding destinations at Betty's Bay and Pringle Bay that deserve investigation. Of these a hike from the Harold Porter National Botanical Garden to the Dawidskraal beach is recommended - one can park at the gardens, cross over the R44 and walk down the trail to the sea. A diversity of species are on offer. Betty's Bay also features several water bodies where birding can be very good. Grootwitvlei stands out as the best example. A more detailed description of birding opportunities in the area will be done in future.

(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).

Red Disas at waterfall (Carin Malan)
BirdLife Overberg members in Disa Kloof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cape Batis (Charles Naude)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beautiful Harold Porter landscape  (Anton Odendal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIRDING AT THE KOGELBERG BIOSPHERE RESERVE AND KLEINMOND Show details

BIRDING AT ROOISAND ALONG THE BOT RIVER ESTUARY Show details

BIRDING AT FISHERHAVEN & THE HAWSTON SEWAGE WORKS Show details

THE VERMONT SALT PAN Show details

BIRDING AT ONRUS AND HARDERBAAI Show details

BIRDING ALONG THE HEMEL & AARDE VALLEY AND ROTARY WAY SCENIC DRIVE Show details

BIRDING ALONG THE HERMANUS CLIFF PATHS AND THE KLEIN RIVER ESTUARY Show details

THE FERNKLOOF NATURE RESERVE AT HERMANUS Show details

BIRDING IN AND AROUND STANFORD Show details

FROM STANFORD TO THE UILENKRAALS ESTUARY AND BEYOND Show details

THE DANGER POINT PENINSULA Show details

DYER ISLAND AND SURROUNDS Show details

THE UILENKRAALS VALLEY TO BAARDSKEERDERSBOS AND BEYOND Show details

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

WHEATBELT BIRDING CIRCLE ROUTE 1: KARWYDERSKRAAL AND SWART RIVER ROADS Show details

WHEATBELT BIRDING CIRCLE ROUTE 2: THE OUDEKRAAL ROAD Show details

WHEATBELT BIRDING CIRCLE ROUTE 3: THE PAPIESVLEI AREA Show details

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Show details