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Route 6: Birds

The Cape West Coast Peninsula lies between two internationally recognized Important Bird Areas (IBAs) – The West Coast National Park and The Lower Berg River Wetlands. Birders will delight in the many special birds to spot from habitats including mountain, coastal, river and estuarine and of course a host of waders. Birding Information Brochures and Birding checklists are available to enhance the visitors birding experience.

 

Bird lovers follow this link www.westerncapebirding.co.za

Explore twelve of the greatest spots for Bird Watching scattered around the West Coast. Locations include the West Coast National Park, Bird Island at Lambert’s Bay and the Darling Bird Route.

Rietvlei & the Milnerton Lagoon

The Rietvlei Nature Reserve is situated beside the R27 coastal road only 15km from the city centre of Cape Town. The Reserve encompasses the Milnerton Lagoon and Flamingo Vlei. Access is via the Milnerton Aquatic Club (follow the road signs to the right of the R27 and turn right at next traffic lights onto Pentz Drive). There are 173 species to be seen including whitebacked ducks, which are common seasonally in the permanent pools near the Beach Hotel. There are picnic and toilet facilities, eight information panels and a hide overlooking the pans.

 

Olifants River Estuary

The estuary and its associated wetlands are earmarked for future RAMSAR listing as an Important Bird Area. Flamingoes, sandpipers and many other migratory and resident waders can be seen (183 species have been recorded to date). The small settlement of Papendorp is situated overlooking the Olifants River Estuary where the river enters the sea. A variety of marine birds can be seen on the hiking trail between Strandfontein, Ebenhaezer, Papendorp and Doringbaai, situated just south of the Olifant’s River Estuary.

Porterville Blue Crane Route

 

Rocherpan Marine & Nature Reserve

This Reserve consists largely of a seasonal vlei (wetland) which is usually dry
between March and June. The adjacent section of the Atlantic Ocean was declared a marine reserve in 1988. The Reserve provides a sanctuary for one of South Africa’s most endangered coastal birds – the African black oystercatcher. Additional attractions include whales from June to December. Picnic sites are available. R30 entrance fee per vehicle.

 

Day 1

 

Morning: West Coast National Park

Langebaan Lagoon in the West Coast National Park was registered as a wetlands of international importance for birds, under the RAMSAR Convention, in 1988. More than 25% of South African bird species can be viewed in the park. The lagoon supports large numbers (up to 55 000) of waterbirds in summer. Most of these are waders (23 species). The largest colony of kelp gulls in South Africa is found on Schaapen Island. Visit the Geelbek hide for rare waders including Hudsonian and blacktailed godwits, whiterumped sandpipers and Dunlins; the salt-marsh hides and the Seeberg hides are excellent areas for flamingos.

 

Darling Bird Route

The wide diversity of vegetation in the Darling area offers birders a large variety of birds from larks and pipits to lesser flamingoes and great white pelicans. The area stretches from the strandveld of the Darling Hills Rd and Groote Post to the renosterveld of Waylands and Oudepost wildflower reserves. The beauty of the flowering bulbs and the diversity of the wildflowers offer the birder a unique springtime experience. In the summer large numbers of blue cranes may be seen in the wheatfields along the Darling / Malmesbury and Moorreesburg roads. The Tienie Versfeld Reserve and the !Khwa ttu San Culture & Education Centre enable to the visitor to further enjoy the diversity of Darling.

 

Evening: Paternoster

Dine at one of Paternoster’s fine Restaurants.

 

Day 2

Morning: Velddrif

Hotspot for rare waders. There are few if any other areas in the entire country where such a plethora of rare waterbirds can be seen. Recent rarities include the Little Blue Heron, Hudsonian Godwit, Black Harrier and Lesser Yellowlegs.

Tourism info: +27 22 783 1821, E-mail: velddriftoerisme@telkomsa.net

 

Berg River Bird Hides – Velddrif

This site on the estuary of the Berg River is an Important Bird Area(IBAs) and a proposed RAMSAR site. A hide is situated off Voortrekker Road, past the Riviera Hotel where the key to the hide is kept. The key is available every day at the reception of the Hotel. The hide overlooks an area of intertidal mudflats and saltmarshes, where more than 200 species of birds can be viewed. Birds like blackwinged stilts, purple gallinule, moorhen, flamingoes and pelicans, Caspian tern and kingfisher, can also be viewed on the farms Bloemendal (11-12km from Velddrif on the Velddrif/Hopefield Road) and Langrietvlei (±19km from Velddrif on the Velddrif/Hopefield Road). Both the farms are situated on the banks of the Berg River.

 

Afternoon: Rocherpan Nature Reserve

This reserve, only 15km North of Velddrif, was established in 1967 and consists largely of seasonal wetlands, though usually dry between March and June. The adjacent section of the Atlantic Ocean was declared a marine reserve in 1988. This combination of marine, wetlands and bush conditions, provides ample feeding and breeding conditions for a wide variety of birds. The reserve also provides a sanctuary for one of Africaís most endangered coastal birds – the Black Oystercatcher. The reserve provides one of the most important breeding and moulting sites for the Cape Shovellers.

 

Evening: Paternoster

Dine at one of Paternoster’s fine Restaurants.

 

Day 3

Morning: Verlorenvlei

Verlorenvlei (‘lost marsh’) is a beautiful, but unprotected, wetland situated outside of Elands Bay on the road to Redelinghuys. The shores of the vlei are private property, but there are numerous good birding spots along the road as well as from the accommodation establishments on the banks of the vlei. Notable species include the Purple Gallinule, Eastern White Pelican, African Spoonbill, African Eagle as well as European Bee- eaters, which breed in this area. The vlei has been identified as an important bird area and is a RAMSAR listed site.

 

Afternoon: Bird Island: Lambers Bay

The internationally famous Bird Island of Lamberts Bay is linked to the shore by a breakwater connected to the harbour and is therefore easily accessible to the public. It is the most accessible Cape Gannet colony in the world. The Nature Reserve provides shelter and protection to thousands of Cape Gannets, as well as various species of cormorants and penguins. The hide puts you within a wingspan of more than 25 000 blue-eyed Cape Gannets.

Visitors can witness the unique mating dances (April – September) and captivating vocalizing of thousands of gannets. Visitors are welcome from 07:00 – 19:00 in summer and 07:00 – 17:00 in winter.

 

Bird Island – Lambert’s Bay

The island is linked to the shore by a breakwater connected to the harbour and is therefore easily accessible to the public. The viewing platform on the Island has recently been replaced with a state of the art sunken hide, designed to blend in with the rocks of the area and situated in such a way as to allow the colony to expand. It is an important breeding site for Cape gannets and the mass of birds that congregate there, is an amazing sight. The island is also important for other marine birds such as African penguins, kelp gulls, white-breasted cormorants and common tern.

 

Evening: Paternoster

Dine at one of Paternoster’s fine Restaurants.

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