Addo Elephant National Park – Woody Cape section

About the Birding

Begin your exploration of the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park in the vicinity of the main offices, where you are required to pay your conservation fees. Erithryna trees here attract a plethora of birds including the Grey, Greater Double-collared, Collared and Amethyst Sunbirds. Southern Black Flycatchers hawk insects from low perches in the car park, while both Trumpeter and Crowned Hornbills and African Green Pigeons emerge to feed on ripened figs behind the ranger’s house. Both Olive and Knysna Woodpeckers are usually also present …

– this being one of the premier sites in the country to see the latter. Grassland at the forest edge holds Lazy Cisticola, Red-necked Francolin and Burchell’s Coucal. Barratt’s Warbler sing from thickets at the forest edge, especially in winter. Verreaux’s Eagle-owl and African Wood Owl call at night, and Fiery-necked Nightjar feed over the grasslands at dusk.

The recommended forest trail starts at the office and follows a 7Km circular route through the grassland, forest edge and forest interior. Between 2 and 3 hours are required to do the trail proper justice. Alternatively, concentrate on the first few kilometres of road that runs towards the Langebos Huts in the centre of the forest. The Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Yellow-throated Woodland-warbler, Trumpeter Hornbill, Dark-backed Weaver, Cape Batis, Grey Cuckooshrike, Forest Canary, White-starred Robin, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, Olive Bush-Shrike, Lesser Honeyguide, Chorister Robin-chat, and Brown Scrub-robin are all relatively common in the forest interior. Narina Trogon are conspicuous in summer when males begin calling incessantly. Buff-spotted Flufftail call from thickets in spring and summer, particularly on overcast days and at night, though the species is not easy to see here. Red-chested, Black and African Emerald Cuckoos are all seasonal visitors during the summer months. Scaly-throated Honeyguide is present throughout the forest, though is generally scarce. Lemon and Tambourine Doves visit the shallow drinking pools, immediately behind the Langebos Huts. Watch open patches above the forest canopy for both the Martial and Crowned Eagles, which are resident year-round and nest nearby.

From the main offices, continue south along the main road towards the coast. Primary forest here supports many of the same species as previously mentioned, though the understory is noticeably denser in places. Several hills along this stretch of road serve as fantastic vantage points to scan across the forest canopy for Forest Buzzard, Crowned Eagle and African Olive Pigeon. Further along, the dune fields support a small population of migrant Siberian Peregrine Falcons. These birds spend the summers here and can occasionally be seen along the 2-day hiking trail through the dunes. The dry, unvegetated dunes and coastal slacks of the Woody Cape Section also hold c. 17% of South Africa’s breeding Damara Tern population, 2% of the global breeding population of African Oystercatcher, and small numbers of African Penguin occasionally roost along this coastline. Cape Bulbul is also present within the dune vegetation, at the very eastern limit of its distribution.

Other notable biodiversity in the area includes the Alexandria Cycad, restricted to sandy habitats of the coastal dune forest and bush in the Alexandria District. The global ranges of the Striped Sandveld Lizard, Algoa Dwarf Burrowing Skink and Tasman’s Girdled Lizard are virtually restricted to the Algoa Bay region of the Eastern Cape and a large proportion of their populations occur within the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park. There is suitable habitat for Albany Adder, an Algoa Bay endemic, but it is yet to be recorded here. The coastal thicket and dunes support Southern Dwarf Chameleon, Angulate Tortoise, Black Thread Snake and Cape Legless Skink. The endemic Forest Shrew, Least Dwarf Shrew, Short-legged Seps, Bronze Caco, Bushveld Rain Frog, Cape Sand Frog, Leopard Toad and Yellow-striped Reed Frog occur in Alexandria Forest and the surrounding coastal sandy habitats. Threatened mammals include the Tree Hyrax, Blue Duiker, Honey Badger and Samango Monkey.

Key species:

Narina Trogon, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Grey Cuckooshrike, Barratt’s Warbler, Damara Tern

About the Birding Site

The Alexandria dune field is the best example of a bare coastal dune field ecosystem anywhere in South Africa and, in fact, the entire Southern Hemisphere. The dunes themselves extend over roughly 15 800 hectares and are comprised of an estimated 375 000 cubic tonnes of sand! Combined with the surrounding coastal grasslands and indigenous forests, the area offers an incredibly unique and completely untouched wilderness.

Although the forest vegetation is designated as Tongaland–Pondoland Lowland Forest, it has Southern Afro-temperate Forest affinities. In comparison to the Amathole Forests, this system is characterised by a shorter canopy (mean of 14.5 m) with numerous open gaps, accounting for the tangled nature of the undergrowth and the high incidence of lianas and vines. Open forest glades, with an abundance of grasses, are also present in the area.

Not surprisingly, Addo Elephant National Park was expanded to include the Alexandria dune fields and forests – a massive 25 000 hectare area in total – into what is now referred to as the Woody Cape section of the Greater Addo Elephant National Park. This section to the reserve has little game – and, importantly, no elephants – though it is justly recognized as one of South Africa’s top bird-watching destinations. The Alexandria Forest is rich in forest species, with more than 357 species recorded including several notable endemic species. At least two days are required to cover the Woody Cape thoroughly, though morning visits are sufficient if concentrating only on the forested sections of the reserve. Dedicated birders could easily produce a list of 50-60 species in a few hours.

Key species:

Narina Trogon, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Grey Cuckooshrike, Barratt’s Warbler, Damara Tern

Other Related Information

The offices to the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park are reached by travelling south off the R72 at 33.6543, 26.4010. The office itself is roughly 5km along this well-maintained gravel road, at -33.7008, 26.3657. To reach the Langebos Huts, follow the trail from the offices into the forest itself. Alternatively continue beyond the offices as the main road bisects a large track of mature forest, where fantastic birding is also to be had.

Other related information:

Notable points of interest include:

Woody Cape offices: -33.7010, 26.3651

Langebos Hut trail: -33.6998, 26.3660

The nearest towns to the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park are:

Alexandria: 17Km

Kenton-on-Sea: 33Km

Port Alfred: 57Km

Grahamstown: 90Km

Access:

Standard daily conservation fees apply and are payable at the main offices as follows:

South African Citizens and residents (with ID): R82 per adult, R41 per child

SADC nationals: R164 per adult, R82 per child

Ablution facilities are available at the main offices.

The nearest fuel station and shopping facilities are in the villages of Boknes and Alexandria, both within easy reach of the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park.

Contact details:

Addo Elephant National Park

PO Box 52, Addo, 6105

Tel: +27 (0)42 233 8600

Fax: +27 (0)42 233 8643

Email: addoenquiries@sanparks.org

For more information, visit: www.addoelephantpark.com

For bookings, visit: www.sanparks.org

Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency

17-25 Oxford Street

East London CBD

Tel: 043 492 0081

Email: info@ecpta.co.za

SANPARKS head office

Tel: +27 (0)12 426 5000

www.sanparks.org

Recommended accommodation nearby:

No Birder Friendly Establishments are currently available for the Woody Cape section of Addo Elephant National Park. However, SANPARKS does offer rustic accommodation at the Langebos Forest Huts and the Umsintsi Cottage. To make reservations, contact:

SANPARKS reservations

Tel: +27 (0)12 428 9111

Fax: +27 (0)12 426 5500

reservations@sanparks.org

Local guide information:

No Birder Friendly Tour Operators are currently available for the Woody Cape section of the Addo Elephant National Park. However, birding tours in the general area are available through:

Tim Cockcroft

Website: https://timwcroft.wixsite.com/timcockcroftbirding

Email: timwcroft@gmail.com

+27(0)72 314 0069

Text prepared by:

Daniel Keith Danckwerts (Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Tours)

Key species:

Narina Trogon, Buff-spotted Flufftail, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Grey Cuckooshrike, Barratt’s Warbler, Damara Tern

Contact details:

Addo Elephant National Park
PO Box 52, Addo, 6105
Tel: +27 (0)42 233 8600
Fax: +27 (0)42 233 8643
Email: addoenquiries@sanparks.org

For more information, visit: www.addoelephantpark.com

For bookings, visit: www.sanparks.org

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