birding
 
 

BIRDING IN THE EASTERN CAPE

A coastline, with many beautiful sandy beaches, arid semi-desert scrub, grasslands, forests and large tracts of cultivated lands in some areas gives the Eastern Cape a wide mosaic of habitats. In consequence, the bird list for the province is well in excess of 450!


Seekoei Nature Reserve

Situated on the Eastern Cape coast between the coastal villages of Aston Bay and Paradise Beach, visitors will find the Seekoei Nature Reserve.

The estuary serves as an ideal bird watching destination, and is home to a massive variety of about 120 bird species which include fish eagle, flamingos and red knobbed coot, which nest on the lagoon.

Cape Receife Nature Reserve, Port Elizabeth

This reserve is situated on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth and is one of the best seabird sites in the province. There is a large tern roost which, in summer, can boast Common, Swift (Great Crested); Caspian, Sandwich and Roseate Terns and Kelp Gulls. The rare Damara Tern, endemic to Southern Africa, is often present. White-fronted Plovers, Ruddy Turnstones and Whimbrels all feed along the water`s edge. African (Jackass) Penguin can sometimes be seen just off-shore and, when a strong south-easterly wind is blowing, albatrosses and petrels can be seen from the shore. The rocks just metres off-shore often hold large numbers of Cape Cormorant, White-breasted Cormorant.

Included in the reserve is one of the city`s sewerage disposal works and a hide has been built at one of the settling ponds. Kelp and Grey-headed Gulls can be well seen from the hide, along with Pied and Malachite Kingfishers, Cape Wagtails, Purple Gallinules, Yellow-billed Ducks and an occasional African Marsh Harrier



Mondplaas Ponds / Gamtoos River Mouth

Situated about halfway between Aston Bay and Port Elizabeth, the ponds are a short distance inland from the Gamtoos River mouth. A good place for waterfowl with four or five species of duck usually present. Other water birds include Darter, two cormorant species, Purple and Grey Herons, Purple Gallinule (Swamphen); Black Crake, African Rail and the occasional African Jacana.The river mouth, approximately 10 kilometres away by road, has a large mudbank which holds many migrant waders in summer. Red Knot, Terek Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew and African Black Oystercatcher are among the species to be seen. The adjacent dunes are a good site for Eurasian Hobby in the summer.

These two sites have, from time to time, produced some most unexpected birds such as the Citrine Wagtail (the third record for Africa as a whole) and Garganey.The farm lands and bush along the road between these spots is good birding country and species such as Bokmakierie, Boubou Shrike, Southern Tchagra, Bar-throated Apalis, Stanley`s Bustard, Glossy Starling and Pied Starling might be seen.

 

Mountain Zebra National Park

This park is situated about 15 kilometres south-west of Cradock.  This is a good place to get to grips with the larks and chats of the dry areas. Long-billed, Thick-billed, Spike-heeled, Red-capped and Clapper Larks are particularly obvious in the spring (August to November) when breeding is in full swing. Familiar and Sickle-winged Chats are plentiful. Other dry country birds include Cape Penduline Tit, Pied Barbet, Cardinal Woodpecker, Fairy Flycatcher, Red-winged Starling and a host of others can be seen. The list for the park is over 200 species, a good proportion of them being resident. Other interesting birds include Layard`s Tit-babbler, Dusky Sunbird, Pale-winged Starling, Namaqua and Rufous-eared Warblers and Cape Rock Thrush.

 


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