Birding Routes

Introducing the Flamingo Birding Route Show details

Birds and Birding along the West Coast Show details

The West Coast National Park: Geelbek and Surrounds Show details

The West Coast National Park: The Outlying Areas Show details

The Swartland Local Municipal Region: Malmesbury, Hopefield and Moorreesburg Show details


Most birders might not regard the Swartland as good for birding, as the roads pass through what are known as ‘wheatbelts’. In addition, the N7 carries a lot of traffic; and the R315 between Malmesbury and Darling has few safe spots where one can turn off the road to bird. All is not lost, however, as birding along less busy roads such as the R45 between Wellington and HOPEFIELD, (S33º 50’69.40” E25º 63’69.75”) via MALMESBURY, (S33º 27’06.87” E18º 43’18.73”) and R311 between RIEBEEK WEST and MOORREESBURG (S33º 09’00.00” E18º 39’59.89”) can produce exceptional birding opportunities. KALBASKRAAL, (33º 33’42.40” E18º 38’51.21”) to the south of Malmesbury also often produces reports of very good sightings.

This is the best area reasonably close to Cape Town where species associated with wheatbelts can be seen. The area features large numbers of Blue Cranes, and both species of flamingo move through the region nomadically. Also expect to find Denham’s Bustard and Southern Black Korhaan, as well as Steppe Buzzard and Lesser Kestrel in summer. There are still patches of Rhenosterveld habitat left in the area where sightings of Black Harrier and Secretarybird are possible. Overwintering White Storks are sometimes reported from this area. This is also a very good area to practice one’s identification skills on LBJ’s, as most of the region’s cisticolas, larks and pipits can be found along the roads in the Swartland. Expect to find Karoo, Large-billed and Red-capped Larks, Cape Longclaw, African Pipit, African Stonechat and Capped Wheatear.

Ensure that you inspect the dams in the area as large numbers of waterfowl are present when conditions are suitable. Malachite Kingfisher, SA Shelduck and Cape Shoveler are of the specials here, and most of the region’s ducks, grebes and teals are on offer. Expect to find large numbers of Red-knobbed Coot, Egyptian and Spur-winged Geese, Blacksmith Lapwing and Kittlitz’s Plover. Plenty of Great White Pelican are often seen. Migratory waders are also easy to find in summer and here one can spot Ruff, Curlew and Wood Sandpipers and Little Stint. Raptors may include Jackal Buzzard, Black-shouldered Kite, Lanner and Peregrine Falcons and the occasional Black-chested Snake-Eagle, and in summer Steppe Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Lesser Kestrel and Yellow-billed Kite. The Swartland should certainly not be underestimated as a birding destination.

There are several good birding options to the west from here at DARLING. DARLING CELLARS ( S33º 26’21.00” E18º 31’20.0”) are reached along the R315 from Malmesbury, and from here the road to the CLOOF WINE ESTATE (S33º 28’58.1” E18º 31’23.4”) often produces very good birding. The two dams along this road can, in season, produce good waterfowl numbers. The area is recommended for its diversity and its abundance of LBJ’s and Blue Cranes. The area can produce exceptional birding, and the award-winning wines of the region can be sampled.

The Swartland Local Municipal Region: Darling and Yzerfontein Show details

The Saldanha Bay Local Municipal Region: Langebaan and Surrounds Show details

Saldanha Bay Local Municipal Region: Saldanha to Velddrif Show details

The Berg River Local Municipal Region: Porterville to Velddrif Show details

The Berg River Local Municipal Region: The Lower Berg River Wetlands Show details

The Berg River Local Municipal Region: Laaiplek & Rocherpan Show details

The Cederberg Local Municipal Area: Cederberg Wilderness Area Show details

The Cederberg Local Municipal Area: Citrusdal to Verlorenvlei & Elandsbaai Show details

Cederberg Local Municipal Area: Clanwilliam to Lambert Show details

The Matzikama Local Municipal Region: Olifants River Estuary Show details

The Matzikama Local Municipal Region: Vanrhynsdorp and the Knersvlakte Show details