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West Coast National Park Birding, Western Cape

West Coast National Park BirdingThe West Coast National Park, only 100kms north of Cape Town is centered on a large tidal lagoon and covers an excellent cross section of west coast habitat including coastal strandveld, tidal mudflats, salt marshes, reed beds, salt pans, open shoreline and granitic seabird islands.

This 27 600 ha reserve boasts a list of over 250 bird species, with at least 45 of southern Africa’s endemic or near-endemic species within its boundaries as well as flocks of migratory waders that summer here.

Besides the seabirds and shorebirds, there is a rich diversity of terrestrial species including African Penguins, Cape Gannets and all four marine cormorants. Swift terns breed on the islands in summer and Caspian Terns forage in the southern reaches of the lagoon.  African Black Oystercatcher, Bartailed Godwit, Curlew, Knot and Terek Sandpiper, African Marsh and Black Harriers, Marsh Owl, Redchested Flufftails, European Bee-eater, Southern Grey and Cape Penduline Tits, Titbabbler, Layard’s Titbabbler, Longbilled Crombec , Grey-winged Francolin, Grey-backed Cisticola, Karoo Scrub-Robin, White-backed Mousebird, Cape Grassbird, Karoo Lark, Large-billed Lark, Chestnut-banded Plover, Red Knot,  Eurasian Curlew are other interesting ticks.

The prime time to visit the park is from August to November due to the world famous display of wildflowers. This is also when the migrants start to arrive and the resident birds are all breeding.  A full day’s birding in the park could quite easily yield in excess of 100 species at any time of the year.

On arrival at the Park Headquarters, get a map of the park as well as a bird checklist. A limited network of surfaced and gravel roads reach most areas of the park but watch out for the tortoises that have right of way!

Best Spots:

  • On entering the park, you immediately find yourself in coastal strandveld, home to bush birds.
  • Abrahamskraal Water Hole is the only fresh water in the park to which the public have access.
  • The rocks along the coast at Tsaarsbank are productive for seabirds.
  • Walk down to the Seeberg Hide to see bush birds and in summer, waders. If the tides are high, this is a good spot.
  • The Geelbek mudflat bird hide allows for superb wader watching in summer, and is one of South Africa’s best waterbird hides, also offering an array of vagrant waders .
  • The salt marshes south of the Geelbek manor house, especially at high tide are most productive.
  • Lunch at Geelbek Manor house where the birds eat out of your hands!

Directions: Approaching from Cape Town along the R27, the well-marked turn-off to the West Coast National Park is 10.9 km beyond the R315 Yzerfontein/Darling junction.

More info on the town of Langebaan More info on The West Coast area