Garden Route – Coney Glen, The Heads and Woodbourne Pan salt marsh

About the Birding

A fantastic morning’s birding can be had by following George Rex Drive (-34.0392, 23.0669). The first stop is the Woodbourne Pan salt marsh adjacent to the turn off to Leisure Isle. Park in a safe position on the side of the road and the birding is all on the eastern side of the road, and is from the road. The offerings depend entirely on what the tide is doing and is generally poor at high tide.

With an incoming or outgoing tide, the marsh really comes alive, with Red-billed Teal, Cape Teal, Cape Shoveler, Yellow-billed Duck, Pied Avocet, Common Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Ruff, Little Stint, African Fish Eagle, Western Osprey.

The thickets surrounding the marsh on either side are good for Cape Canary, Knysna Woodpecker and Olive Bushshrike.

Continue along George Rex drive and take the Coney Glen turn off. Follow all along until you reach the ConeyGlen car park (-34.0805, 23.0634). The Milkwood thicket between the car park and the beach is a good spot for Knysna Warbler amongst the thick underbrush. Peregrine Falcon also make use of the cliff nests as vantage points.

The car park at the Knysna Heads is a good spot to try for Half-collared Kingfisher, Africa Oystercatcher and large numbers of Cape Cormorant.
You can take a drive around Leisure Isle and stop at the Steenbok Nature Reserve for a short walk and check the small boat harbour for waders and water birds. Pied Kingfisher, Little Egret and Western Osprey may be seen.

This route is particularly well suited for mobility impaired birding.

Key species:

Knysna Warbler, Knysna Woodpecker, Knysna Turaco, Narina Trogon, White-starred Robin, Scaly-Throated Honeyguide, Half Collared Kingfisher, Cape Sugarbird, Victorin’s Warbler, Orange-Breasted Sunbird

About the Birding Site

Woodbourne Pan is a tidal salt pan on the eastern side of the Knysna estuary. At the right times, many waders can be seen here. The site is roadside birding, making birding quite easy. A scope is helpful, but not too important.

Coney Glen and the Heads are more of a tourist destination, but the birds are still around in good numbers. The tourist facilities, including a handful of short paths and benches make birding here quite simple as well. The variety of habitats, including estuary, salt pan, milkwood forest, and thicket make this site quite attractive, especially since it’s in the middle of town. Up to 50 species are possible on a summer morning.

Other Related Information

Woodbourne Pan: -34.06622, 23.07112 (

Coney Glen: -34.08055, 23.06341 (

Text edited by:

Justin Ponder

Key species:

Knysna Warbler, Cape Bulbul, Olive Bushshrike, Curlew Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Whimbrel, African Rail, Half-collared Kingfisher, Peregrine Falcon, Cape Cormorant

Contact details: