The Garden Route is a treat for bird lovers/ watchers.
With a large diversity of habitats, natural and man made, the variety is amazing.
Ironically the towering forests are not the easiest place to spot our feathered friends. With the forest canopy offering the best food sources and habitats for nests etc all you can really be sure you will get is bird calls. A lucky few will see the Knysna Loerie (now known as the Knysna Touraco) or the Narnia Trogon. These two beauties look almost out of place here, as if they belong in the Amazon Jungle, with their bright greens and reds and in the case of the Touraco, blues and purples too.
The best places to see birds are the fynbos or scrub forests and of course, your garden!
Very common residents include, but are by far not limited to, the rather cute Cape Wagtail (they are the grey/ white small birds that literally wag their tails up and down), Cape Canary, Cape White Eye (wide white “eyeliner” in a near perfect circle), Sombre BulBul, Lesser Collared Sunbirds, Double Collared Sunbirds, Black Sunbirds, Cape Batis and a large selection of Doves and Pigeons (most distinguishable being the Rameron/African Olive Pigeon with its ruddy, spotted feathers and bright yellow beak and eyeliner)
Less common garden birds include the Red Billed Wood Hoopoe (The isiXhosa name translates as Laughing Women, when you hear the call you will agree!), the Knysna Touraco, the Knysna Woodpecker, Forest/Mountain Buzzard and quite a few more.
Near the sea and on the estuaries/ lakes in the area there is a whole new selection to see!
The once uncommon Black Oyster Catcher is making a significant come back on the beaches due to conservation efforts. They share the beaches with Stilts, Pipits and of course Seagulls amongst others.
Estuaries and lake areas (a perfect, very accessible example being near Leisure Isle on the way to the Heads) host a very large selection of waders, ducks and geese including the Egyptian Goose, White faced whistling duck, Yellow billed Ducks, Spoonbills, Crowned and Blacksmith Plovers and occasionally the Red-knobbed Coot to name but a few.
There is also no shortage of Kingfishers – from the small, bright blue Malachite to the large Giant Kingfisher (look on any telephone line near water and you are sure to see them patiently ‘fishing’)
Spring and Summer also means migratory birds are back – Sedgefield has been known to have Flamingos on the lake and even the beach, the European Storks tower over grasslands and fields all over the Garden Route and Swifts and Swallows dart through the warm air and work hard on their mud nests.
The Garden Route is also home to the largest aviary in the Southern Hemisphere – Birds of Eden.
Here you can leisurely stroll through the forest/ habitats and ‘spot’ an array of exotic and indigenous (but not necessarily endemic) species. There are some very friendly parrots, just be aware of earring thieves among them!
Birdlife South Africa is a great source of the latest news and they also have suggested birding routes which cover all of South Africa.
So pack your binoculars and your telephoto lens and pick up a good bird book and join us soon for some quality “twitching”