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LOCAL TIME: 08:11 pm | Thursday, 05 December
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Bird Watching in Plettenberg Bay

Birding is big in the Eastern and Western Cape. Here in Plett, we’re on the border between the two provinces, where South Africa’s biomes meet dramatically – so there is a great diversity of bird life to take in and tick off your list.

Plettenberg Bay local birds

We have divided birding in this area into separate venues, with summaries and downloadable checklists that you can print out and take with. Enjoy!

Bitou River Wetlands

Specials

African Darter, African Snipe, Black-winged Stilt, Blue Crane, Knysna Turaco, Olive Bush-Shrike, Olive Woodpecker, Pied Avocet, South African Shelduck.

Where to Look

Look out for the majestic Blue Crane on the banks of the Bitou river

Look out for the majestic Blue Crane on the banks of the Bitou river

From the N2 take the R340 turn-off towards Wittedrift. The road is mostly straight for about 3 km and just after the first bend, the most rewarding birding area starts – especially when the water level is close to the road. Look out for Pied Avocet and Black-winged Stilt, South African Shelduck, Cape Shoveler, Cape and Red-Billed Teal. Hottentot Teal are also increasingly often spotted here. Kittlitz’s and Three-banded Plover are present as are Wood Sandpiper in summer.

Look out for Blue Crane on the opposite bank. To the right of the road, a tract of indigenous forest is home to many of the forest species.

Between the lakes and the bridge, en route to Wittedrift, try to spot Little Bittern, White-faced and African Black Ducks, Black Cuckoo and Eurasian Golden Oriole. Red-chested Flufftail are often heard from the bridge.

Along the R340, continuing towards Uniondale, it is not unusual to see raptor species including African Fish Eagle, Black-shouldered Kite, African Harrier-hawk, Peregrine and Lanner Falcons as well as both Jackal and Steppe Buzzards. Recently a Palm Nut Vulture has been recorded.

Click here to download the full Bitou River Wetlands checklist.

 


Kurland and Nature’s Valley

Specials

African Jacana, Plain-backed Pipit, Red-capped Lark, Spur-winged Goose, White-backed Duck, White-faced Duck.

Where to look

Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Take the N2 highway towards Port Elizabeth. About 15 km from Plett, just beyond the turn-off to Nature’s Valley, turn into the entrance to the Kurland polo fields. Around the lake, expect to see African Jacana, Little Grebe and White-backed Duck.

This is also the best place to see Spur-winged Goose. Some unusual sightings include Red-billed Quelea and Red-capped Lark.

On the polo fields, look out for Black-winged Lapwing and Plain-backed Pipit.

Click here to download the full Kurland and Nature’s Valley checklist.

 


Plett Golf Course

Specials

African Olive Pigeon, Knysna Turaco, Knysna Warbler, Knysna Woodpecker, Olive Bush-Shrike, Olive Woodpecker.

Where to Look

The Knysna Turaco, also known as the Knysna Lourie

The Knysna Turaco, also known as the Knysna Lourie

Situated to the west of the Piesang Valley, Plett Golf Course contains almost all habitat types – forest, grassland, fynbos and wetland. It’s generally regarded as the prime Knysna Turaco viewing spot in the Garden Route. More than 90 species have been recorded including the Narina Trogon and Black Cuckooshrike.

On the other side of the road from the golf course is the Global Village. Here a bird hide offers viewing of many of the same birds that can be seen on the golf course. Additionally White-faced Duck, Purple Heron, Lesser Swamp-Warbler and Little Rush-Warbler are often present.

Click here to download the full Plett Golf Course checklist.

 


Rietvlei Dam and Sewage Works

 

Specials

Black-crowned Night-Heron, Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, Hottentot Teal, Knysna Turaco, Little Grebe, Little Rush-warbler, Maccoa Duck, Red-billed Teal, Reed Cormorant, Southern Pochard, White-breasted Cormorant.

Where to Look

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

The Rietvlei turn-off is opposite the turn-off to Goose March, which is en route to Port Elizabeth on the N2. The dam itself is about 300 metres from the highway; it’s home to various ducks and teals. Watch out for Reed Cormorant, Black-crowned Night Heron and Red-Knobbed Coot, Little Grebe and Common Moorhen. Not as often seen are the Black-crowned Night-Heron and African Purple Swamphen. Recently Little Bittern have been seen. The Little Rush-Warbler is commonly heard and quite often seen. Greater Swamp-Warbler has been recorded.

Close by are the sewage works and to get there, take the turn-off to the left, off the N2 just before the “Old Nick” village. The fields before the works are reached are home to Plain-backed Pipit, and the various dams facilitate much closer views of the water birds than the Rietvlei dam.

Click here to download the full Rietvlei Dam and Sewage Works checklist.

 


Uplands

Specials

Amur Falcon, Black-winged Lapwing, Crowned Lapwing, Denham’s Bustard, Jackal Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard.

Where to Look

Bokmakierie

Bokmakierie

After turning onto the R340 towards Wittedrift, carry on until the road starts climbing up the Wadrift Heights pass. It will reach the Uplands plateau; the turn-off to the Uplands road is to the left of the R340 and carries on for about 5 km.

Look out for Denham’s Bustard, Crowned and Black Lapwing, Wattled Starling, Blue Crane and Bokmakierie. More recently, a flock of Amur Falcon have been seen just prior to their annual autumn migration.

Click here to download the full Uplands checklist


We’d like to thank Ray Goodwin, local birder extraordinaire, for supplying the bulk of the information which we’ve used for this article and checklists. Please note that the bird lists are not finite as more species are spotted.

Our local birding guru, Gareth Robbins of Golden Orb Tours submitted to us an updated Bird List for Bitou.  The good news is that we have 300 different bird species in and around our surrounds!

More info on the town of Plettenberg Bay More info on the Garden Route area



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