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

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


Consider leisurely strolls along the Hermanus Cliff Path that can be accessed at several places in the village. It allows whale and dolphin watching at its best combined with really good opportunities to watch coastal, Fynbos, forest and garden birds. SOUTHERN TCHAGRA and a variety of fynbos specials are often encountered - watch out for interesting gulls and terns however and always check for pelagic species out to sea during stormy weather. Keep in mind that various safe parking areas are available from Main Road and that shorter walks allowing casual bird-watching can be planned – refer to the link on “Planning your walk” below this text. A map is available at this link. 

The Cliff Path was originally constructed by the Hermanus Botanical Society, and is now maintained by the Cliff Path Management Group (CPMG). The CPMG was responsible for the resurfacing of the entire path through contributions from the Overstrand Municipality and private donations. The Hermanus Cliff Path follows the rugged and coastline from the New Harbour in the west to the Klein River estuary in the east. The Westcliff and village seafront sections from the New Harbour to Protea Road and from Kraal Rock to Kwaaiwater are mostly wheelchair and pushchair-friendly. 

View from Mollergren Park (Anton Odendal)
Hermanus old harbour (Ronel Botha)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of the best land-based whale watching in the world is available along the Cliff Path from June to December, and this, together with excellent birding opportunities make hiking along the Cliff Path a must when visiting the region. The diversity of vegetation and habitat types host an array of wonderful bird species. The coastal Fynbos along the entire length of the cliff path offer endemic species such as the CAPE GRASSBIRD, CAPE SPURFOWL, CAPE SUGARBIRD and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD, a well as the much sought-after SOUTHERN TCHAGRA. Other endemic birds that occur abundantly are the CAPE BULBUL, FISCAL FLYCATCHER, KAROO PRINIA, CAPE SPARROW, SOUTHERN DOUBLE-COLLARED SUNBIRD, CAPE WEAVER and CAPE WHITE-EYE. Other common species include the BOKMAKIERIE, CAPE CANARY, CAPE ROBIN-CHAT, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER and OLIVE THRUSH.
Large tern day roosts may be found at several spots along the cliff path during summer months. These roosts are usually dominated by vast numbers of COMMON, SANDWICH and SWIFT TERNS, although ARCTIC and ROSEATE TERNS may sometimes be located. The most accessible site to view this spectacle is the area between the Windsor Hotel and Gearing's Point. This spot caused a sensation in birding circles in February 2016 when an extremely rare and vagrant ELEGANT-TYPE TERN spent some time in this mixed roost.

Elegant-type Tern in mixed flock (Kerry Tindall)
Elegant-type Tern (Image supplied)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further east from the town center the Cliff Path follows Main Road between Sea Road and Mollergren Park. The alley along Mollergren Park is of particular interest as it hosts a diversity of species associated with well wooded habitats. Be on the lookout for the BAR-THROATED APALIS, CAPE BATIS, SOUTHERN BOUBOU, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER, SOMBRE GREENBUL, AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON and CARDINAL WOODPECKER. The SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL, AFRICAN HARRIER-HAWK and BLACK SPARROWHAWK are also recorded regularly. In summer the DIDERICK and RED-CHESTED CUCKOOS, a well as the AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER cause excitement. The area in front of Mollergren Park further offers large terns roost at this time of year. 

Bar-throated Apalis  (Richard Masson)
African Dusky Flycatcher  (Anton Odendal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cliff Path allows for outstanding vistas of often violent seas and stupendous coastal Fynbos as it meanders eastwards towards Sievers Punt, Kwaaiwater and the mouth of the Mossel River. The latter deserves special mention as a parking area is available and the site offers a selection of coastal, estuarine and Fynbos related species in one spot. AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS are particularly abundant here. From here it passes the Langbaai bathing beach, the Kammabaai and Voëlklip beaches towards the main Grotto beach. Piet-se-Bos affords the same species composition as described under the initial well-wooded area at Mollergren Park. The Cliff Path forms part of the Fernkloof Nature Reserve and no camping, fires or picking of flowers are permitted. Cycling is strictly prohibited, dogs must be on a leash and dog droppings must be removed from the Cliff Path. A word of caution - always be aware of wave action when walking along the Cliff Path.

Common Sandpiper  (Carin Malan)
Common Greenshank  (Anton Odendal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally the estuary at the mouth of the Klein River adds a wide selection of waterbirds to the Cliff Path birding experience. The most practical spot to use to explore the birding delights of the area is at the parking area at Prawn Flats (34° 24'50.93”S 19° 18'18.58”E). The WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANT, YELLOW-BILLED DUCK, EGYPTIAN GOOSE, AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHER and HARTLAUB'S and KELP GULLS occur abundantly, with GREY-HEADED GULL being found far less often. The RED-KNOBBED COOT, CAPE CORMORANT, REED CORMORANT, AFRICAN DARTER and LITTLE GREBE are also very common. Good numbers of wading GREATER FLAMINGOS, AFRICAN SPOONBILLS and BLACK-WINGED STILTS are also present for most parts of the year. The CAPE SHOVELER and CAPE TEAL occur commonly, with RED-BILLED TEAL being present far less often. All of the region's herons, kingfishers and resident warblers are also available. The AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE and AFRICAN MARSH-HARRIER sometimes put in spectaculars appearances and the CASPIAN and SWIFT TERNS patrol the waterways throughout the year.

Greater Flamingos  (Carin Malan)
Caspian Tern  (Anton Odendal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swift Tern  (Anton Odendal)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common migrants on record include the STEPPE BUZZARD, YELLOW-BILLED KITE and BLACK SAWWING, together with all of the swallows and swifts to be found in the region. Besides the common resident plovers the waders found most often during summer months are the COMMON GREENSHANK, COMMON SANDPIPER and COMMON WHIMBREL. 

Species that are seen at the Klein River estuary far less often are the PIED AVOCET, LESSER FLAMINGO, WESTERN OSPREY, GREAT WHITE PELICAN and AFRICAN SNIPE, even though there is always a chance of finding these special birds. Recent vagrant sightings near the mouth are of the GOLIATH HERON and SQUACCO HERON.

This brief description certainly illustrates the vast birding potential along the Hermanus Cliff Path and the Klein River estuary. Time should be spent along here when Hermanus is visited as the species diversity, spectacular coastal Fynbos and outstanding seascapes represent the essence of the Cape Whale Coast nature experience. 

(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).

Bird-watching along the Hermanus Cliff Path
Images by Anton Odendal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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