Cape Peninsula – Kirstenbosch

About the Birding

There are three points of access into the Gardens – Gate 1 or the lower gate (-33.9891, 18.4342), Gate 2 or the upper gate (33.9865, 18.4320), and the Rycroft gate (-33.9927, 18.4317). Gate 1 is the main entrance and is where the Visitors’ Centre is located. The first two gates require a walk up to the main area of the forest and fynbos area, while the Rycroft gate is on level with the fynbos garden.

The Fynbos and Erica Gardens, most easily accessible from the Rycroft Gate, are an excellent spot to see fynbos endemics. Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Sugarbird can be seen throughout most of the year. Cape Spurfowl feed on the lawns, and Forest Canary can be found eating seeds alongside Swee Waxbill and the occasional Cape Siskin. There are several pairs of Brimstone Canary in this area. Listen for the call of Brown-backed Honeybird in the area above the Dell and Cycad area (-33.9900, 18.4282). Southern Boubou and Cape Grassbird can also be heard calling in the Fynbos Garden.

The Arboretum/Enchanted Forest, the area of forest around the Boomslang (an aerial walkway), can be very productive. It is one of the few places on the Peninsula where Lemon Dove can be found. These birds can be found walking around in the paths in the forest. It is best to look for them early before the area becomes too busy, but they can be seen at any time of the day. Other species that can be seen here are Cape Batis, Sombre Greenbul, African Paradise Flycatcher and African Olive Pigeon. Olive Woodpecker and Spotted Eagle Owl can often be seen from the Boomslang. It is also a good place to scan for raptors, swifts and swallows. Most of the birds mentioned can also be found in other forested areas such as the Dell and the Braille Trail.

Kirstenbosch can often be excellent for raptors. African Goshawk, Black and Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk can be seen flying over, often earlier in the day. When it gets warmer, Common and Jackal Buzzard, African Harrier Hawk and Booted Eagle often circle on the thermals. Forest Buzzard and Verreaux’s Eagle are seen more rarely. In recent years, European Honey Buzzard has become a regular feature. Keep an eye on the skies during your visit as they can occur anywhere in the gardens.

The lower areas of the garden have a variety of cultivated indigenous gardens. The lawns around the pond (-33.9888, 18.4315) are a good place to look for Swee Waxbill and Bronze Mannikin. Nearby, the Aloe Garden (-33.9893, 18.4315) has Malachite and Southern Double-collared Sunbirds when the aloes are flowering. The bushes can hold Karoo Prinia, Bar-throated Apalis and Speckled Mousebird. Little Rush Warbler, Levaillant’s Cisticola and Common Waxbill can be found in marshy areas (-33.9888, 18.43256 and -33.9869, 18.4335). Common Chaffinch can be found in the area around the Moyo restaurant.
There are several pairs of Spotted Eagle Owls that breed in the gardens; ask the staff if they know the location of their latest roosts.

Kirstenbosch can see over one million visitors per year. Consequently the birds in the garden are used to people and offer great photographic opportunities. Keep your camera in easy reach and remember to respect the other garden visitors and your photographic subjects.

Key species:

Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Lemon Dove, Forest Canary, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Cape Spurfowl, Olive Woodpecker, Common Chaffinch

About the Birding Site

Situated against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is one of the most highly regarded botanical gardens in the world. It is one of the best spots in Cape Town to see fynbos and forest species in close proximity. There are a variety of habitats – both indigenous and introduced gardens, fynbos and indigenous forest, as well as some small wetland areas in the lower gardens.

Several endemic and near-endemic species can be found here with relative ease. Birds here are rather habituated to people, so one can often get very good views of them. This is one of the reasons the gardens are very popular with photographers.

Key species:

Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Lemon Dove, Forest Canary, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Cape Spurfowl, Olive Woodpecker, Common Chaffinch

Other Related Information

Access:
Gate 1: -33.9891, 18.4342
Gate 2: -33.9865, 18.4320
Rycroft gate (parking): -33.9927, 18.4317

Entrance fees:
Adults: R75
South African Students (with student card): R40
Scholars/Learners (6 – 17 years): R20
Children under 6 years: Free
BotSoc members (with membership card): Free
South African Senior Citizens (with ID): Free on Tuesdays except on public holidays

Key species:

Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Lemon Dove, Forest Canary, Rufous-breasted Sparrowhawk, Cape Spurfowl, Olive Woodpecker, Common Chaffinch

Contact details:

Ticket Office: +27 (0)21 799 8782 / +27 (0)21 799 8602
Information Office: +27 (0)21 799 8783 / +27 (0)21 799 8773
After Hours and Emergencies: +27 (0)21 799 8618 / +27 (0)60 948 4432
Email: KirstenboschInfo@sanbi.org

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