Free State (East) – Clarens

About the Birding

The Clarens Village Conservancy, is a registered conservancy established in 2004, with a number of well-maintained walking trails around Clarens from which to bird.

Forested valleys (such as around Clarens Waterfall or the parts of town immediately below the Rooiberge) is good for African Dusky Flycatcher, African Paradise Flycatcher, Cape Batis, Fork-tailed Drongo, Olive Thrush, and Diederik Cuckoo (summer).

Clarens Kloof Dam (-28.517833, 28.405972) can be good for Lesser Swamp Warbler, nesting Cape Weaver and Southern Red Bishop (summer), White-throated Swallow (summer) and Red-knobbed Coot amongst others. There are also trails radiating to/from this dam to other parts of town.

In the open grasslands and ouhout scrub above Clarens (-28.521444, 28.408528) one can see Wing-snapping Cisticola, Cape Grassbird, Cape Bunting, Wailing Cisticola, Karoo Prinia, Bokmakierie, Pied Starling, and Neddicky.

Typical birds around town include Black-collared Barbet, Streaky-headed Seedeater, Speckled Pigeon, Southern Fiscal, Crested Barbet, Cape Canary, Cape White-eye, African Hoopoe, African Harrier-Hawk, Karoo Thrush, Klaas’s Cuckoo (summer), Cape Robin Chat, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Lesser Honeyguide, Pin-tailed Whydah, Southern Boubou, Red-throated Wryneck, Cape Weaver, Amethyst Sunbird and Spotted Eagle-owl often heard at night. Alpine Swift, African Black Swift, White-rumped Swift (summer), Jackal Buzzard, Long-crested Eagle and White-necked Raven are often seen overhead. Southern Bald Ibis can also be seen flying over town or feeding in open areas at the Clarens Golf Course.

The drive out to the bridge over the Little Caledon River is very good for birds too. One initially passes Townlands Dam (-28.525333, 28.433861) and nearby sewage works settling ponds (-28.523806, 28.430722) and these sites often yield African Sacred Ibis, Blacksmith Lapwing, Yellow-billed Duck, Cape Wagtail, African Reed Warbler (summer), Red-knobbed Coot, Reed Cormorant, Little Grebe, Giant Kingfisher and Common Waxbill.

The road also passes a distinct rocky area (-28.529472, 28.435306) where Mountain Wheatear is often seen. Stop here (-28.537000, 28.439806) and walk back towards the bridge over the Little Caledon River. In this area may see Black Sparrowhawk, Willow Warbler (summer), Red-collared Widowbird, Cape Grassbird, Swainson’s Spurfowl, Levaillant’s Cisticola and Karoo Prinia.

Key species:

Wailing Cisticola, Cape Batis, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Grassbird, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Pied Starling, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Karoo Thrush, African Black Swift, Cape Bunting

About the Birding Site

Clarens is a scenic small town protected by the Maluti Mountains and overlooks a sweeping valley. Established in 1912, it was named after Clarens, situated between Vevey and Montreux in Switzerland. Birding is very productive in/around town where habitats vary from grasslands, sandstone cliffs, forested valleys, wetlands, gardens as well as dams with associated reedbeds.

Key species:

Wailing Cisticola, Cape Batis, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Grassbird, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Pied Starling, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Karoo Thrush, African Black Swift, Cape Bunting

Other Related Information

Directions:
Clarens is situated close to the border with Lesotho, between Golden Gate and Bethlehem, at the junction of the R712 and R711. (-28.510861, 28.424722).

Recommended accommodation nearby:
No Birder Friendly Establishments are currently available in the area. All types of accommodation are available in Clarens.

Other related information:

Local guide information:
No Birder Friendly Tour Operators or local guides are currently available in the area.

Text prepared and edited by:
Martin Benadie | Specialist Bird Guide

Key species:

Wailing Cisticola, Cape Batis, African Dusky Flycatcher, Cape Grassbird, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Pied Starling, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Karoo Thrush, African Black Swift, Cape Bunting

Contact details:

Clarens Conservancy
Website: https://www.clarens.co.za/
https://clarensvillageconservancy.com/hiking/

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