South Africa's Garden Route in the Western Cape Province (Previously known as Southern Cape) is arguably one of the country's most scenic areas. The name Garden Route was given to this area as it said to be Nature's Garden due to the number of plant species to be found in the area. With 8600 (5800 endemic) fynbos species alone (compared to UK's total plant species of 1500 and the entire African continent's 30000 plant species) it makes this area unequalled to any other on the planet.
The Garden Route consits of rolling fields, mountains (The Outeniqua range must surely be the prettiest in the country), forests (the biggest indigenious forest in South Africa), unspoilt beaches and the deep blue sea. The town of Mosselbay is joined Guiness Book of Records record holder for having the most consistent climate throughout the year. It therefore creates a multitude of different habitats for a magnitude of bird species!
I want to describe a few birding spots from this region and the first is going to be the water purification works just outside Mosselbay.
This particular site is not just a birding paradise but it is also a photographer's dream if visited early morning. It consists of large dams, spill over dams causing a small flood plain and adjacent grasslands.
The big dams, inside the property of the Water works is only accessible on prior arrangement. One will readily find the bigger waterfowl here such as Cape Teal, Egyptian Goose and Yellow-billed Ducks and in summer thousands of Barn Swallows swoop across the water surface. The spillover and floodplain is the most productive and can be seen from the road side. The reed beds are home to hidden gems and one quickly realises that an hour visit to this smallish site might not be enough. Scan the reed beds carefully for weavers, warblers, snipes, crakes and swamphens.
The mud flats are covered with all sorts of birds and in some instances a scope will be of great aid, especially when you are trying to id that tricky wader. Scan the flats for the smaller plovers and sandpipers which are both numerous in summer. The water is covered with ducks, teals and geese. This spot also sports with a sighting of American Golden Plover in 1996. The grasslands are home to egrets, Blue Cranes (a vulneable species) and African Marsh-Harrier, sometimes seen hunting.
I never miss an opportunity to bird this location when down in the Garden route on holiday. And I never leave disappointed. It just seems to be one of those ever trustworthy birding sites and one always get the feeling that something interesting is to be encountered. Hopefull I will find that special rarity one of these good days.
On a day visit you are bound to encounter some of the following species:
African Darter African Snipe African Spoonbill African Stonechat Barn Swallow Black Crake Black-Crowned Night Heron Black-headed Heron Black-shouldered Kite Blacksmith Plover Black-winged Lapwing Black-winged Stilt Blue Crane Cape Bulbul Cape Glossy Starling Cape Shoveler Cape Teal Cape Wagtail Cape Weaver Cattle Egret Common Fiscal Common Greenshank Common Moorhen Common Ringed Plover Common Wimbrel Crowned Plover Egyptian Goose Fiscal Flycatcher Glossy Ibis Greater Crested Grebe Greater Striped Swallow Grey Heron Grey-headed Gull Hadeda Ibis Kitlitz's Plover Knob-billed Coot Lesser Swamp Warbler Levaillant's Cisticola Little Egret Little Rush Warbler Mallard Marsh Sandpiper Pied Avocet Pied Kingfisher Pintailed Whydah Purple Swamphen Red Bishop Red-billed Teal Red-winged Starling Reed Cormorant Ruff Sacred Ibis South African Shelduck Southern Masked Weaver Southern Pochard Spur-winged Goose Swift Tern Water Thickknee White-Breasted Cormorant White-faced Duck White-fronted Plover White-necked Raven White-rumped Swift White-throated Canary White-throated Swallow Wood Sandpiper Yellow Bishop Yellow-billed Duck Zitting Cisticola
1Comment at Wednesday, 20 May 2009 12:18by DotDaan
Thanks WTM, Would love to visit this area in the near future
2Comment at Wednesday, 20 May 2009 14:05by Jay
wow seems like a great spot...was just talking to my parents yesterday and we were saying it's time we all headed to that part of the coast again...and the waterworks will defs be on the must see list! Thank you for sharing this with us!
3Comment at Wednesday, 20 May 2009 14:26by Laine
great read! thanks so much WTM..
and yes.. i concur you never quite know what to expect from those waterworks!!
4Comment at Wednesday, 20 May 2009 17:50by Muis
Thanks for the great write up WTM. Conjurs up fond memories of the area after having lived in Knysna for 8 yrs, until 8 yrs ago. Just a pity that I didn't id birds when seeing them then.
5Comment at Thursday, 21 May 2009 15:25by Katja Soehngen
Passed Mossel Bay quite a few times, without even knowing that those waterworks did exist. Thanx WTM for drawing our attention to that special spot.
» Post Comment
Only registered users can write a comment. Please login or register.