Birding Routes

BIRDING IN THE WITZENBERG REGION - INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS Show details

THE ENDEMIC AND OTHER SPECIAL SPECIES OF THE WITZENBERG REGION Show details

THE MOUNTAIN PASSES OF THE WITZENBERG REGION Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 1 - GENERAL INTRODUCTION Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 2 - THE TWEE JONGEGEZELLEN ROAD Show details


THE TWEE JONGE GEZELLEN ROAD
Untold outstanding birding opportunities are available along the Twee Jongegezellen Road. This phenomenal route starts at the northern end of Church Street (33° 16'58”S 19° 08'18”E) and initially runs in a westerly direction. A dam is reached at 33° 16'36”S 19° 07'25”E just before the famed MONTPELLIER WINE ESTATE, which unquestionably deserves particular attention. A variety of waterbirds such as the BLACK CRAKE, AFRICAN FISH-EAGLE, PURPLE HERON, AFRICAN SNIPE, WHITE-BACKED and WHITE-FACED DUCKS are present in small numbers. The REED and WHITE-BREASTED CORMORANTS, AFRICAN DARTER, LITTLE GREBE and CAPE SHOVELER are reasonably common.

Various options are available at the Montpellier intersection (33° 16'29”S 19° 07'01”E). A gravel road runs from Montpellier to the TULBAGH WINERY (33° 15'09”S 19° 08'38”E), which is regarded by many as the prime spot in the district to look for LBJs. Frequently observed species include all the cisticolas of the region, CAPE CLAPPER LARK, LARGE-BILLED and RED-CAPPED LARKS, CAPE LONGCLAW, AFRICAN PIPIT, KAROO SCRUB-ROBIN, GREY-BACKED SPARROWLARK, AFRICAN STONECHAT and CAPPED WHEATEAR. Listen closely to the distinctive call of the ZITTING CISTICOLA during spring and early summer. The CAPE SPURFOWL is typically spotted along here and in the rest of the district. The JACKAL BUZZARD, BLUE CRANE, BLACK-SHOULDERED KITE, SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN and SECRETARYBIRD were all recorded along this road during a recent visit. A dam is reached at 33° 15'41”S 19° 07'46”E where waterbirds are seasonally abundant. A dam at 33° 15'35”S 19° 07'49”E is visibly noteworthy as it hosts extensive reed beds and regularly features an ample diversity of waterfowl. All three grebes and COMMON MOORHEN, AFRICAN SNIPE and AFRICAN PURPLE SWAMPHEN are often present and the trees should be carefully scanned for the secretive BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. The reed beds support sound numbers of warblers, particularly in summer when the birds are charmingly vocal.

Another gravel road starts at the Montpellier intersection and runs east towards the buildings of TULBAGH DRIED FRUIT at the access road between the R46 and the village. There are sizeable remnant patches of renosterveld along here and the road consistently produces a diversity of LBJs. The birds to look out for, however, are the threatened and endemic BLACK HARRIER that habitually quarter over the vegetation and the SOUTHERN BLACK KORHAAN. These two gravel roads further offer a convenient circle route using Tulbagh as base.

The splendid OUDEKLOOF WINE ESTATE (33°16'4"S 19°4'29"E) is found beyond Montpellier and offers marvellous accommodation from where fynbos, renosterveld and rocky mountain slopes can be explored. The diversity of species here is profound and the access road is deserving of particular interest. A dam at Montpellier recently produced the BLACK CRAKE, BROWN-HOODED, GIANT and MALACHITE KINGFISHERS and a variety of ducks. The YELLOW BISHOP, BOKMAKIERIE, CAPE GRASSBIRD, BLACK HARRIER, CAPE LONGCLAW, CAPE SUGARBIRD, SECRETARYBIRD, CAPE SPURFOWL and ORANGE-BREASTED SUNBIRD were astonishingly all seen on the drive to Oudekloof and SPOTTED EAGLE-OWL and GREY-WINGED FRANCOLINS were found close to the farm buildings. The historic Oudekloof Pass can be accessed by appointment and offers exposure to magnificent mountain fynbos and vistas over the Tulbagh Valley. On a recent visit most of the species noted above were recorded, together with JACKAL BUZZARD, CAPE CANARY, BOOTED and VERREAUX'S EAGLES, YELLOW-BILLED KITE, AFRICAN OLIVE-PIGEON, STREAKY-HEADED SEEDEATER and BLACK SPARROWHAWK. This is also an perfect spot to look for other fynbos endemics such as PROTEA SEEDEATER, CAPE SISKIN and VICTORIN'S WARBLER - an ideal destination to be used as base by discerning bird-watchers to explore the region.
CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: +27 (0)82 440 9459 E-mail: reservations@oudekloofwineestate.co.za Website: www.oudekloofwineestate.com

We were fortunate to enjoy a stay at RAPTOR RISE SELF-CATERING ACCOMMODATION (33° 15'33”S 19° 06'47”E) further along the Twee Jongegezellen Road. “Privately positioned at the foot of the farm is a fully equipped self-catering cottage complete with swimming pool and spectacular mountain views. (33° 14’59”S 19° 06’11”E). Nearer to the farmstead, but still enjoying the mountain views, are the recently converted stables which consist of four self-catering, en-suite rooms.” Most of the garden birds to be expected in the region are evident and the picturesque mountain slopes behind the buildings produced sightings of the JACKAL BUZZARD, VERREAUX'S EAGLE, FAMILIAR CHAT, ROCK KESTREL and CAPE ROCK-THRUSH. The BLUE CRANE, BLACK HARRIER and SECRETARYBIRD all extraordinarily flew past while we were sitting on the patio. This is an ideal spot to use as base to explore the multitude of excellent birding and other tourism delights that Tulbagh and the valley has to offer.
CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: +27 (0)72 555 3782 E-mail: reservations@raptorrise.co.za Website: www.raptorrise.co.za

Both the SARONSBERG (33° 14'41”S 19° 06'53”E) and TWEE JONGEGEZELLEN WINE ESTATES (33° 14'22”S 19° 06'46”E) are well known and celebrated for wine tasting, but do not underestimate birding opportunities in the well established gardens with old trees. The CAPE BATIS, AFRICAN DUSKY FLYCATCHER and AFRICAN PARADISE-FLYCATCHER, the latter being seasonal to summer, are all seen here regularly. The area around Twee Jonge Gezellen is deservingly best known for sightings of the LESSER HONEYGUIDES parasitising CARDINAL WOODPECKERS. Once one has passed through Twee Jongegezellen there is a section of road featuring rocky hills with thickets on the right hand side. Be on the lookout for the ACACIA PIED BARBET, FORK-TAILED DRONGO, FAIRY and FISCAL FLYCATCHERS and CHESTNUT-VENTED TIT-BABBLER. The many casuarina trees along here, which farmers use as windbreaks, should be studied for the often difficult to find CAPE SISKIN – yet another remarkable endemic species associated with fynbos habitats. Two dams are found to the left of the road as the road continues further towards the THEMIKA GUEST FARM (33° 29' 09”S 19° 18'58”E). Both of these can produce excellent waterbird viewing and photography when conditions are optimal.
CONTACT DETAILS: Tel: +27 (0)83 373 5818 E-mail: bookings@themika.com Website: www.themika.com

The Twee Jonggezellen Road is just one example of the dazzling myriad of bird-watching opportunities in the Tulbagh Valley with towering Boland Mountains creating a continual pleasing backdrop.

(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).

Family cottage at Raptor Rise  (Image by AO)
Tulbagh Valley at sunset (Image by AO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oudekloof Wine Estate seen from pass (Image by AO)

 

 

 

Oudekloof Manor House (Image by AO)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pied Kingfisher  (Image by DM)

 

 

 

Cape Longclaw  (Image by CM)

 

 

 

Secretarybird  (Image by WC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE TULBAGH REGION 3 - THE THEUNISKRAAL ROAD Show details

THE TULBAGH REGION 4 - THE ROAD TO WOLSELEY Show details

BAINSKLOOF PASS AND BERGSIG WINE ESTATE Show details

BERGSIG WINE ESTATE TO WOLSELEY - AN ALTERNATIVE ROUTE Show details

WOLSELEY AND MICHELLS PASS Show details

BIRDING IN CERES Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - CERES TO KAROOPOORT Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - KAROOPOORT TO TANKWA FARM STALL Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - KATBAKKIES TO OP-DIE-BERG Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 1 - OP-DIE-BERG TO CERES Show details

CIRCLE ROUTES FROM CERES 2 - SWAARMOED PASS & BO-SWAARMOED FARMING AREA Show details

CIRCLE ROUTE FROM CERES 2 CONTINUED - THE DROEHOEK ROAD TO GYDO PASS Show details

THE TANKWA-KAROO NATIONAL PARK - THE P2250 GRAVEL ROAD Show details

THE TANKWA KAROO NATIONAL PARK 2 - OUDEBAASKRAAL AND SURROUNDS Show details

THE TANKWA KAROO NATIONAL PARK 3 - THE INTERIOR ROADS AND ACCOMMODATION Show details

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Show details