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Spots in Southern Africa - the creme-de-la-creme of birding
location guides, this site
says it all! Highly recommended. This site has seperate sections for each
of the major provinces of South Africa.
South Africa - South Africa is a land of dramatic diversity.
Seacoasts, mountain ranges,
forests, arid plains, deserts: all have a special quality that set them
apart as uniquely South African. This quality is a combination of climate,
wildlife and terrain that must be directly experienced to be understood.
This site provides links to information on all of South Africa's national
parks and reserves.
Birding Spots: Locality Guides and Checklists
(always under construction
!) This page links you to information on some of the best birding places
in Southern Africa. Some places are described on pages on ZABIRDSTUFF,
and these are complemented by links to other good sites which provide good
on-line information on birding places.
Guide to Birding in South Africa - South Africa`s
as a birding destination par excellence has to be one of the world`s best
kept secrets. Out of a total of more than 820 species (including some splits
which are not yet universally recognised) 121 species are vagrants or accidentals,
40 species endemic to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland and a further
110 species are endemic (or nearly so) to the southern African sub-continent,
i.e. the area south of the Zambezi and Cunene Rivers. This makes South
Africa one of the most desirable birding areas in Africa. Add to this a
well-developed road system, an excellent network of internal airline routes
and a plethora of car hire companies (including the large internationals)
and this surely has to be one of the most desirable birding destinations
in the world.
in South Africa - South Africa itself has over 900 bird species
10% of the world's bird population - and more than 130 bird species are
endemic to the country.
Africa's Basement - The Cape to Kalahari - an on-line
guide to South Africa's Western and Northern Cape Provinces. Cape Town
- arguably Africa's most beautiful city - is a phenomenal base from which
to go birding in South Africa. Two weeks in the vicinity of Cape
Town could yield over 300 species, including 47 of South Africa's 58 endemics
and near-endemics, and 126 of southern Africa's 180 endemics, making it
an indispensable destination for anyone interested in African birds.
This article outlines the best birding spots and routes, specifically targeting
endemics, both South and southern African. The amount of time that
should be allotted to each route is suggested and the birding, scenery
and general tourism features are all scored!
Town Birding - this site includes details on birding, rarities,
birding, taxomonic discussions, photos of endemic birds and lots of other
great information. These web pages aim to link together numerous facets
of birding in this remarkably biodiverse region. Pay special attention
to the Sample
Chapter from Essential Birding - Western South Africa (see Print
Resources for ordering information).
Waterfowl Trust: Bringing Waterfowl and Wetlands to the
Situated 3km from Vereeniging, Gauteng, South Africa, and only a 45 minute
drive from Sandton, Johannesburg, Treehaven Waterfowl Trust is an oasis
comprising 30 acres of specially developed wetlands dedicated to
the world’s waterfowl. Housed here are 140 species of waterfowl and have
to date bred 113 species, including all 16 South African species.
in Swaziland - Both Malolotja and Mlawula Nature Reserve
excellent birding spots. More than 280 bird species have been recorded
and the reserve is particularly important for its nesting Blue Swallow,
Blue Crane, Stanley's Bustard and the flourishing Bald Ibis colony above
the Malolotja Falls. 350 species of birds have been recorded
in Mlawula, including raptors such as the martial eagle and bateleur, and
the rare African fin foot.
in Elands Bay and Surroundings - Between the Olifants
Berg River Estuaries on the West Coast, lies an interesting stretch of
coastline with a number of excellent water bird localities. A full day
would be adequate to cover the area fairly thoroughly.
Birding - General information on birding in Southern Africa,
and around Pretoria/Gauteng, including an annotated regional list, trip
reports and recomended localities one should visit. Includes Checklists
and birding information related to the greater Johannesburg area, endemic
lists and birding information for the visitor to Johannesburg or Pretoria.
Pretoria and nearby Johannesburg are close to a diversity of bird habitats
with about 440 species regularly occuring.
Africa and the Benguela Current - Pelagic Birding by Angus
- Collision of the cold Benguela Current with the southwestern tip of the
African landmass, results in a major upwelling zone. This upward flow brings
constant supply of nutrients that phytoplankton require for growth, resulting
in an area of particularly high productivity. There are major trawling
grounds some 40-60 km off South Africa's Cape of Good Hope and vast numbers
of seabirds accompany the fishing fleets. The area is so rich that in winter,
it is apparantly not unusual to find 5000 or more seabirds in the wake
of an active trawler.
Town Pelagics - This site has two elements: firstly, practical
about month-by-month seabird seasonality, travel information for visitors,
maps to harbour departure points, and more. Secondly, they offer a booking
service for the variety of pelagic seabirding trips now on offer off Cape
Sites for Seabirds in South Africa - from the Avian
Unit, Cape Town University. Detailed information is provided on:
Point, Bettys Bay
Zululand Birding Route - A unique self-guided birding route in
Zululand. The Zululand Birding Route offers a range of great birding localities,
The entire route encompasses 10 different habitat types which support a
total of over 400 bird species, 54% of the total South African species
to Birds of Kruger National Park - This Bird Guide provides a
useful description of some
prominent bird species in the Kruger National Park, with more than 500
species found in the Park and over 900 species found in Southern Africa
Birding: Michael Mills' Guide to Kruger National Park.
have been very fortunate to spend the majority of my life in the Kruger
National Park. It has stimulated my interest in birds, mammals, reptiles,
frogs, trees... in fact anything that lives. I have spent more time birding
in Kruger than all other places put together. Over the last ten years I
have built up a good familiarity with its fantastic bird diversity. This
page is aimed at providing information to birders who wish to visit.
Coast National Park - Widlife sanctuary and Ramsar wetland.
Bird Sanctuary, Daggafontien, South Africa
Bird Sanctuary, Germiston, South Africa
KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa - With over 650 species,
good roads, easily accessable
birding spots, great accommodation, and awesome birds, KwaZulu Natal has
got to be one of the most pleasurable birdwatching locations in the world.
Park, Swaziland - Lynette and Paul Oxley - Swaziland is an
independent monarchy which
is situated in southeastern Africa. This Kingdom, one of the smallest in
the world is bordered in the east by Mozambique and in the southeast, south,
west and north by South Africa.
St. Lucia System - The St. Lucia System is found at the
southern end of the Mozambique
Floodplain and has a subtropical climate, warmed by the Agulhas current.
Extending over 155,000ha the St. Lucia System is the largest estuarine
system on the African continent, and the wetlands form critical habitats
for a large number of species and several communities.
of Nylsvley and Nyl Floodplain - Friends of Nylsvley is
a voluntary organisation
dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the Nyl River Floodplain,
in South Africa's Northern Province. This unique area is a RAMSAR Wetland
of International Importance and has been identified by
South Africa as an Important
Bird Area (IBA). Nylsvlei is partially protected in the Nyslvley Nature
Reserve and is South Africa's largest ephemeral floodplain.
Elephant Park - At 300 square kilometres in extent
(190 square miles),Tembe
is the third largest game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal, home not only to the
unique elephant population but to a profusion of wildlife. Tembe is a bird-watcher's
paradise, with more than 340 species recorded in the park - including the
rare Rudd's apalis, the rufous-bellied night heron, the Natal nightjar
and the Woodward's batis. See also the Bird
List from the Park.
of Birds - Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. Over 3 000
and small animals of 400 different species in walk-through aviaries - experience
nature up close! Enjoy a fascinating glimpse into the private lives of
birds. Get a close-up view of them as they feed, sing, display, socialize,
build nests, incubate eggs and feed chicks right before your eyes - an
unforgettable experience which changes with the seasons. It is a quick
15 minute drive from Cape Town along one of two scenic drives - either
along the coastal route via Camps Bay and Llandudno, or via Kirstenbosch
and Constantia Nek.
in Namibia and South Africa Sep.-Oct. 1990, by
Erik Mølgaard, Jesper
Meedom & Torben Pallesen. (NOTE: this is a downloadable report in WORD
format from the Danish Ornithological
Society´s website).The main purpose of the journey was to observe
birds and animals and experience the magnifi-cent and vari-ed nature of
Southern Africa. The journey was definitely a succes, as we registered
a total of 583 species of birds and 61 species of mammals. The weather
was very hot and dry in central Namibia, more humid with a few showers
in Caprivi, nice and fresh springtime with some wind in the Cape, cold
and sunny in the Drakensberg, humid with a few showers in Natal and hot
and dry in Transvaal. In Namibia it was the end of the dry season, in Natal
and Kruger the wet season should just have started by the time of our visit,
but the rains had failed in Kruger. Birdwatching was never restricted by
weather or weather conditions.
Parks and Reserves in the North West Province of South Africa.
Includes brief information
on Barberspan Nature Reserve, which is an International Ramsar Site, and
that is not for nothing. The birds to be seen at Barberspan and its vicinity
are amazing. Three different habitat types meet at Barberspan. You can
find most of the birds of the dry Kalahari Thornveld, the false grassveld
and the typical dry, short grassveld around Barberspan. And then you have
the amazing variety and numbers of waders on the pan itself.
Africa - Directory of Wetlands of International Importance -
includes information on
all South Africa's Ramsar designated sites, including:
De Hoop Vlei
De Mond (Heuningnes Estuary)
Turtle Beaches/Coral Reefs of
St. Lucia System
Orange River Mouth
Report: South Africa, August 3-30, 1991. By Richard Fairbank.
South Africa is a very modern
country, impressively so by any standards, with very good infrastructure
(much better than in Britain) and road signs. Scenically very varied, from
spectacular mountains (Naudesnek Pass) to industrial wastelands (Richard's
Bay), but little indigenous forest remains. The people were generally surprisingly
Report: South Africa, July 6 - August 17, 1995. By
R.W.Goldbach. The visit
took place during the winter season of South Africa, at rather short day
time lengths. Winter is the dry season, most of the trees and bushes loosing
their leaves completely or partially, and many of the small birds operate
in mixed flocks ("bird parties"). On one hand some birds are absent in
this season, on the other hand some extra (sea)birds, coming from further
south, might be expected. Nevertheless, taking these aspects into account,
the journey produced a very good list of 432 bird species (and 59 mammal
Report: South Africa, December 5, 1995. By Tim Earl.
Report: Cape Town (South Africa) and Zimbabwe,
October 2-25, 1996. By David
Kelly. This trip report covers my second trip to southern Africa.
Report: Cape Province (South Africa), September 17 - October 15,
by Georges & Mireille Olioso.
South Africa and Zimbabwe - 3rd Feb - 5th March 1997 by
Hornbuckle. I spent a month birding in southern Africa, mainly Natal, Lesotho
and Zimbabwe. We recorded 524 species during this time.
Report: South Africa, March 1-15, 1997. By David Fischer. The
following is a report of
a trip that I made with a Bill and Sandra Watson to South Africa from 1-15
March, 1997. This was the first time that any of us had visited Africa,
so most of the birds were new to us.
Report: KwaZulu-Natal, Kruger N.P. (South Africa); Lesotho and
August 16 - September 6, 1998 by Michael R. LevenThe following report covers
three weeks spent in the north-east of southern Africa between 16th August
and 6th September 1998. This was not exclusively a birding trip. Thus,
the itinerary was arranged as a compromise between visits to sites for
specialities and endemics of north-eastern southern Africa and those of
more general wildlife interest
Report: South Africa and Victoria Falls - 20 July - 14 August
by Stefano Brambilla. This
is a report of a self-organised trip in South Africa, with an extension
to Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, made by an Italian group of 10 people this
summer. The trip was not devised to see ONLY birds; in fact, although everybody
was very interested in nature, animals and landscapes, I was alone when
birdwatching... Notwithstanding this, the trip was very productive, as
I managed to recognise about 260 species of birds and 50 mammals... and
I had never been in Africa before, so no idea about its wonderful animals!
Area Birding - by David Geale. From April to June 1998,
I attended Michaelhouse
school on exchange. This was during the off-season for birds in South Africa,
but I still found the birding in the area quite good. Bear in mind that
much of this information could be variable, annually and especially seaonally.
Impressions: Cape Town and Off-Shore (South Africa), January
by Wim Vader. Early in January I had the opportunity to flee the dark,
frost and snow of my hometown Tromsø, N. Norway, and for the first
time in my life to visit South Africa. When one arrives at a new place
as a newcomer one does not know what to expect, and it takes some time
before one gradually begins to bring some order in the bewildering array
of peeps and whistles that emanate from the bushes; I am one of those people
who does most of his bird-spotting by ear.
Report: Cape Province, South Africa, February 20 - March 6, 1999
Gruff Dodd.This was my fourth trip to Africa, and having decided on a visit
to the region, my next decision was which areas to visit. I only had two
weeks at my disposal, am no more than an average quality birder. I therefore
decided against trying to cover the whole country, and instead decided
to select one region, and try to cover it thoroughly.
Report: Larking About in South Africa's Northern Cape
February 27 - March 14, 1999, by John McAllister. For most people South
Africa's Northern Cape Province, if they know anything about it at all,
consists of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. Perhaps they may have heard
of Namaqualand and its wildflowers. Maybe they have heard of the region's
exciting 4-wheel drive routes. For birders there is another reason to visit
this area of semi-desert sands, hard gravel plains and rocky mountains.
If you're a raptor freak then few places in southern Africa can compare
with the Kalahari. As impressive as these raptors may be, they do not constitute
the main appeal of the area to me, however. I am in love with southern
Africa's larks. At least twenty species of these cryptically coloured little
birds are to be found in the starkly beautiful area south of the Orange
Report: An Introduction to South African Birds: A Zululand
September 18-25, 1999 - by Wim Vader. We started out in Johannesburg and
ending up in Durban. The problem with reporting about the birdlife of this
amazing week is that it was so overwhelming, and we moved so quickly from
place to place, that the different reserves have more or less melted together
in my memory. I do have a bird list for what I saw and heard in the different
reserves (and can send that on request), but that is often less than what
saw, and definitely much less than what they heard. See also Wim's reports
Quiet Here Today": A Crash Course in Natal (South Africa) Birding,
September 25-29, 1999 and "Two
Catchup Walks in the Overberg" (Cape Province, South Africa), November
Report: "Autumn Break" at Kruger N.P. (South Africa),
23-28, 2000 - by Mike Pope. We hadn't spent more than 2 days in the Kruger
National Park for many years, and the opportunity arose over the Easter
holidays to take 5 days and spend some time in the north and central part
of the Park. At this time of year, the migrants have all headed north but
after the cyclone which left most of the country waterlogged at the end
of the South African summer - the bush in the park would still be green
and thick and the rivers still swollen. This would make both birding and
game viewing more challenging.
Report: Victoria Falls (Zimbabwe), Okavango Delta (Botswana),
Town Area (South Africa), June 6-22, 2000 - by Larry Gardella. June
is definitely off-season in southern Africa, especially the farther south
you go. Fewer birds are breeding, and both the European visitors and some
intra-African migrants have left the area. In addition, winter in Cape
Town can bring a considerable amount of cold, rainy weather with occasionally
strong winds. Taking all these factors into consideration, Andrea and I
still decided to visit Victoria Falls, the Okavango Delta and Cape Town
during 15 days in June. The scenery, the people, the mammals and the birds
all made us glad that we did.
Report: Kabuli-Natal & Transvaal, South Africa. October 8 - 21,
By Mike Hunter. The aim of this write-up is not to produce a comprehensive
report, but merely to record our sightings, provide a brief site update
and on-the-ground contacts to facilitate future trips for visiting birders.
Report: South Africa: September 2001 by J. P. Paris. We
this country because of the great number of endemic species, the timeliness
to make a pelagic trip near Cape town and the assurance to see the Right
Whales... We went to the Kalahari to see some great mammals: especially
Lion and Cheetah. We made many kilometers (4500km), but Valérie
had never been in Africa and we wished to see the big fauna of Africa.
On the first days we clearly had the feeling to miss time but finally we
have no regret. The great variety of landscapes and birds widely balanced
all the inconveniences.
Report: Birding South Africa 2001 (Cape Town - Garden Route -
Coast - Kalahari) November 11 to December 4, 2001. By Stefan Tewinkel and
Brigitte Andrew. Although September and October are said to be the best
months November is still a good season to visit the Southern African Wildlife.
We chose this month also because there is little to miss in European Birdlife
at this time of the year, whereas in South Africa summer just started.
(This is a lavishly illustrated report, with photographs of both the various
habitats visited as well as many of the birds on the species list.)
Report: Pretoria area, South Africa - 6 - 9 January 2002, by
Prince. This was my first trip to Africa and arose at short notice through
a work visit. I only had four days available for birding. The trip proved
an enormous success. Over 310 species in just four (admittedly long!) days,
included an incredible 227 new birds for me! This was a wonderful introduction
to African birding and has given me the enthusiasm to plan my next trip
already, preferably for a considerably longer time!
Report - Late Winter in western South Africa - Part 1, by John
The following is the first part of a very belated report on a trip that
my wife and I did in August, 2002. In essence it was an exploratory
trip often off the beaten birding track so hopefully it is of some interest
to those of you planning a visit to South Africa. See also Part
3, and Part
Report: Birding in South Africa, November-December 2002.
Pilanesberg National Park, Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon. By
Stig Linander. With more than 900 species of birds recorded (about 1/10th
of all species in the world), South Africa is a birders paradise. The main
reason for me travelling to South Africa was the total solar eclipse on
December 4th. The eclipse wasn't particularly successful but our group
also did a lot of game viewing (great fun!) and most birding was done either
as part of the game viewing or at the rest camps. Fortunately, our guides
knew quite a lot about birds and they found many species
we otherwise would have missed.
Report: South Africa Birding Trip, 14th November -14th December
by Wim Heylen, Hans Matheve, Jan Vercammen, Ivan De Coninck. Most birding
sites in South Africa are very well documented, both in trip reports and
in books. It's easy to get detailed site descriptions straight from the
net, and the "Essential birding" guide by Callan Cohen and Claire Spottiswoode
is excellent. That's why we haven't included site descriptions as they
would be redundant and would have made the report even longer. The few
site descriptions that we obtained from bird guides during the trip are
documented as this was genuinely new information for us.
Report: South Africa, 2002. Five of us spent two weeks in
Africa from Nov 24th - Dec 8th 2002 in the company of Glen Holland, a South
African now living in New Zealand, and his son Kyle. Glen devised an itinerary
that concentrated on the endemics found in KwaZulu Natal but also included
three days in the Cape. Our group trip total was 450 species and we saw
47 mammal species, including the Big Five.
Report: Eastern South Africa - "Red, Rare and Reclusive" -
September - 17 October 2002 with leader Keith Barnes. This trip was designed
as a three-week intensive trip to eastern South Africa looking for not
only all the eastern endemics, but also a host of Red Data Book (threatened),
rare and reclusive birds found in eastern South Africa. We were after some
serious quality birds and got almost all of them.
Report: South Africa - "Cape, Zululand and Drakensberg"
Clean-up - 27 October – 16 November 2002 with leader Keith Barnes.South
Africa is classified a mega-diversity country by Conservation International.
In the southwest it contains two habitats found nowhere else
in the world, the heath-like fynbos and the semi-desert Karoo. Both these
systems hold a host of endemic birds. For us, seeing as many endemics as
possible was the prime objective of this tour. Tropical Birding designed
this trip to maximise the endemic possibilities. According to the Red Data
Book of Birds of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland there are 64 species
that are endemic or near-endemic (90% of their breeding range confined)
to the region. On our 21-day trip we saw all of these.
Report: South Africa - KwaZulu Natal, 15th August- 29th August
- by John Dempsey. I have compiled this trip report from first hand experience
and it is as accurate as I could possibly make it. I have avoided mentioning
all of the 347 species observed concentrating mainly on those of interest
albeit for one reason or another. My return trip to South Africa was an
eleventh hour decision; luckily alternative itineraries from last years
planning were still on my computer. This meant few worries about organizing
a workable birding route, although in hindsight the amount of traveling
between good birding areas was a little exhausting. I would prefer less
driving next time around.
Report: The Western Cape, South Africa, 17th to 26th January
By Mike Powell and Phil Bristow.
Africa Trip Reports - you can find additional South Africa trip
on John Girdley's BirdTours website.
Factoids taken from Where
to Watch Birds in Africa - by Nigel Wheatley.