Birding on the Garden Route

Written by AmakayaBP

fynbosBirdwatching, or birding, might not be the first activity you think of when visiting the Garden Route and Plettenberg Bay; what with scuba diving, sky diving and bungy jumping to tempt you. It is widely agreed that not only does the Garden Route offer some of the coolest adventure activities in the world, but also has some of the most spectacular scenery. It would be a crime not to explore the indigenous forest, dramatic coastal walks and endemic Fynbos of this beautiful part of South Africa.

 One of our favourite ways to explore is with a guided birding walk or hike. It’s an opportunity to slow down and really appreciate how stunning this area is. We took a walk in the Harkerville area with Golden Orb Tours and were pleased to get to walk both in the indigenous forest and along the coastal Fynbos,overlooking the ocean. A walk with Golden Orb is a fully interactive experience, Gareth was enthusiastic and knowledgeable; bringing along reference books and recorded bird calls so that we might recognise them on the tour.

We started off walking through the forest, which was cool and quiet. We listened for the sounds of the different birds, whilst walking among the trees and ferns, with nothing but birdsong and babbling streams. And then…. we spotted a pack of baboons moving through the trees. What a delight to see the little ones perched delicately on the branches, watching us as we watched them. Of particular interest in the forest was the shy Knysna Loerie (or now known as the Knysna Turaco). The colouring of this particular endemic bird could only be found in nature!

Knysna Turaco

Sunbird1We then headed into completely different vegetation, not 20m from the forest – our very own coastal Fynbos; which is the smallest and most diverse of all the floral kingdoms. Fynbos hugs the Southern Cape coast of South Africa from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth and the Harkerville stretch grows along the edge of dramatic cliffs that lead down to the sea. This is a great place to spot birds of prey soaring above the cliffs and the various Sunbirds are a highlight of any trip in the Fynbos. We were lucky enough to also spot Rock Kestral, Cape Siskin and Cape Batis, to name a few. The pace of birding is also great for photography. We had an amazing time birding and can’t wait to try the Nature’s Valley birding excursions next!

Birds in flight photos courtesy of Gareth Robbins, Golden Orb Tours.

rock kestral

 In total, we spotted the following birds on our two hour guided walk:

  • Cape Batis
  • Forest Buzzard
  • Fork-Tailed Drongo
  • Sombre Greenbul
  • Kelp Gull
  • Karoo Prinia
  • White-necked Raven
  • Black Saw-wing
  • Cape Siskin
  • Cape Sugarbird
  • Greater Double-collared Sunbird
  • Orange-breasted Sunbird
  •  Souther Double-collared Sunbird
  • Knysna Turaco (Loerie)
  • Cape Whiteye
  • Rock Kestral
  • Olive Pigeon