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Birding, Knysna, Garden Route

Birding, Knysna, Garden Route

Knysna Birding Spots

Knysna is situated on the shores of one of South Africa’s largest estuaries and also has the country’s largest temperate evergreen forest.

The tidal lagoon and open estuary of the Knysna River provides an excellent place to view waders in the summer months. The lagoon hosts some non migratory larger species such as egrets, spoonbills, gulls, cormorants and Ibises. The threatened African Black Oystercatcher is present all year. The Grey Plover, Marsh Sandpiper, Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper and Whimbrel are prominent all year, but particularly in the winter months. Keep an eye out for the African Fish Eagle and Osprey.


Knysna Warbler, Knysna Woodpecker, Red-winged starling, Victorin’s Warbler, Narina Trogon, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Sugarbird, Chorister Robin-Chat, African Emerald Cuckoo, Red-chested Flufftail, Buff-spotted Flufftail, African Finfoot, White-backed Night-Heron, African Cuckoo Hawk and Eurasian Hobby (summer).


Temperate evergreen forest, rivers and estuaries, south coast renosterveld, beaches and cliffs, floodplains, pastures and dams.

Birding Locations
  • At Woodbourne Pan at low tide in summer you will find waterbirds and waders. These may include Pied Avocet, African Spoonbill, Marsh Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Ruff, Common Greenshank, Kittlitz’s Plover, Common Sandpiper, African Snipe, African Rail, Black Crake and Caspian Tern. Rarities sometimes turn up such as Pectoral Sandpiper. To find Woodburne Pan, drive along George Rex Road towards the Heads and Leisure Island. The pan runs along this road on the left near the turnoff to Leisure Island. You will also see birds on the opposite side of the road.
  • From Leisure Island near the small boat Harbour, one may see at low tide in summer Common Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Common Ringed Plover, Common Greenshank, Sandwich Tern and Common Tern. African Fish Eagle is present all year as they breed in the area and Osprey is present in summer. Juvenile birds stay over so they may be seen in winter. The African Fish Eagle is often seen perched on the oyster bed poles near Lake Brenton.
  • Pledge Nature Reserve includes Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Knysna Turaco, Olive Bush-Shrike, Knysna Woodpecker, Olive Woodpecker, African Emerald Cuckoo and Swee Waxbill. To get to the Pledge Nature Reserve, take Gray Street from the N2 in town, drive up the hill to Bond Street where you turn left and drive till you reach the reserve.
  • The Knysna Warbler is present at The Heads. Try the walk from the restaurant through the indigenous coastal bush toward the sea or the Coney Glen picnic site. It is essential to know the call. At the Western Head Cape Cormorant breed on the rocks. The Heads is on George Rex which is off the N2, past the Leisure Island turnoff. Great place to stop for lunch.
  • Canoe up the Knysna River at high tide for African Black Duck, Giant Kingfisher, Half-collared Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Black Saw-wing, the secretive African Finfoot and the White-backed Night-Heron. +27(0)44 382 6483 or; Sun Valley Drive, Knysna, Garden Route.
  • Kranshoek is situated on the coast. Access is through the Harkerville forest. In the fynbos between the view site over the cliffs and the first picnic site at winter breeding time, the Cape Sugarbirds are visible displaying over the proteas. Orange-breasted Sunbird occur as well as Amethyst Sunbird, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Victorin’s Warbler and Cape Grassbird. The forest includes Narina Trogon, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Black-bellied Starling Forest Buzzard and other forest species. Kranshoek is 24 km east of Knysna. Turn off 19 km from Knysna to the right.
More info on the town of Knysna More info on the Garden Route area

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