Birding in Nature's Valley and Stormsriver mouth
The Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park is a must for the discerning birder and international visitor, writes Anton Odendal, chairman of BirdLife Overberg.
Due to the diversity of habitat types, the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park hosts more than 280 species of birds. It incorporates 80 km of rocky coastline from Nature’s Valley to Stormsriver Mouth – the coastal stretch covered by the Otter Trail.
The park boasts stupendous sea, mountain and landscapes, secluded mountains and valleys covered in mountain fynbos and temperate indigenous forests, with deep river gorges leading to the sea.
Nature’s Valley Rest Camp is reached through the Groot River Pass and slow birding is advised here as it allows glimpses of the great birding to follow.
Forest birding: Nature’s Valley, on the banks of the Groot River, is renowned for its forest birding and Forest Canary, Emerald Cuckoo, Lemon Dove, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Black-backed Puffback, White-starred Robin, Chorister Robin-Chat, Narina Trogon, Knysna Turaco, Knysna Warbler, Green Woodhoopoe and Olive and Knysna Woodpeckers are common. Many good species can also be found in the village – take a gentle stroll or slow drive here.
Lagoon: The sheltered waters of the lagoon and the Groot River can produce African Finfoot, African Fish-Eagle, Half-collared Kingfisher and Osprey. Numerous trails are on offer – the Salt River Mouth Trail is recommended for birders.
Fynbos: An added bonus of the Park is that the Soetkraal section in the interior offers the vast majority of Southern African endemics associated with mountain fynbos – think of Protea Seedeater, Cape Siskin, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Victorin’s Warbler.
Grassland patches here hold Denham’s Bustard, Black Harrier and Secretarybird. Other birds of prey in the park can include Forest Buzzard, African Goshawk, Crowned Eagle and African Wood Owl.
Rocky shoreline: The Stormsriver Mouth section is typified by an open rocky shoreline where massive waves break continually and dolphins and whales are often on view. Cormorants, Cape Gannets, Kelp Gulls, African Black Oystercatchers and terns are regularly seen.
Forest birding is excellent at the entrance gate, the forest huts and the trail from the restaurant that takes visitors to the suspension bridge.
Skietklip by Stormsrivier