Birding Routes

Birds and birding in the central Karoo region Show details

Endemic and other special birds of the Karoo Show details

The Karoo National Park Show details

Cape Town to Beaufort West Show details

Birding at Beaufort West and surroundings Show details

From Beaufort West to the North Show details

Tanqua National Park Show details

The Tanqua Karoo to Sutherland and beyond Show details

Seweweeksport to Laingsburg Show details

The Swartberg Pass Show details

From Meiringsport to Prince Albert Show details

Prince Albert and surroundings Show details

The Karoo plains to the east of Beaufort West Show details


The plains to the east of Beaufort West are brilliant for Karoo birding. Three roads dissect the plains and lead to Beaufort West - the N12 from Meiringspoort (S32º 26’09.67” E22º 29’16.92”), the R306 from Willowmore (S32º 53’35.72” E23º 09’11.44”) and the R61 from Aberdeen and Graaff-Reinet. (S32º 29’11.22” E24º 01’43.56”) (The latter two gravel). The R306 that passes Rietbron is of particular interest and many great bird species are often described along it. This is LBJ country and low speeds and attentiveness is advised. Karoo, Karoo-longbilled, Large-billed and Spike-heeled Larks, as well as Grey-backed Sparrowlark are common, as are Karoo, Sickle-winged and Tractrac Chats. Keep a keen lookout for Karoo and Yellow-bellied Eremomelas in the taller shrubs along the drainage lines and expect to find Black-throated, White-throated and Yellow Canaries. Species that usually contribute to confusion with identification for novice birders include Larklike Bunting, Chat Flycatcher, Cape Penduline Tit, Southern Tchagra, Grey Tit and Rufous-eared and Namaqua Warblers. These plains also have the reputation of producing elusive species that are rare or vagrant in the region. Here one can spot birds such as Temminck’s Courser, Yellow-throated Petronia, Red-backed Shrike (summer), and Black-eared Sparrowlark (after good rains). The first breeding records in the Western Cape for Sclater’s Lark were in fact found here. Larger species include Kori and Ludwig’s Bustards, Blue Crane, Karoo Korhaan and Black Stork. All three these roads feature good sightings of birds of prey - look for Verreaux’s Eagle, Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk, Greater Kestrel and Secretarybird, together with summer migrants such as Steppe Buzzard and Lesser Kestrel.

Waterfowl abound during wetter cycles and in such conditions the many dams and rivers that are found along these three roads should be investigated carefully. Pied Avocet, Greater and Lesser Flamingos move through the region nomadically and migratory waders can be particularly plentiful in good years. All three grebes can occur and ducks could include Maccoa, White-faced and Yellow-billed Ducks, Southern Pochard, SA Shelduck, Cape Shoveler and Cape and Red-billed Teals.

Murraysburg and surroundings Show details