Western Cape – Goukou River Causeway
About the Birding
The Goukou River causeway can be reached from the South from Stilbaai along the gravel district road that runs along the western bank of the Goukou River. This road closely follows the riverbank and small farms along its entire length. In addition, the road winds through a multitude of small stream gullies which are densely overgrown with broad-leaved shrubs and trees. Many of these streams are constantly flowing and a few small dams are located along the way. Diverse birding is possible within the dense vegetation in the gullies, the scattered cultivated areas, the river and its pools, and the adjoining reed beds.
The causeway can also be reached from the north-east using a gravel access road off the R305 (Stilbaai tarred access road). This road that turns westwards, is signposted Melkhoutkraal/Klipfontein. This road crosses through mainly cultivated areas which are excellent for finding all the local terrestrial bird species.
Other alternative access routes are either from the North-West (Riversdale) or from the South-West (Jongensfontein) via another gravel district road. This link road crosses through an area where intensive wildflower cultivation and harvesting (mainly pincushions) is practised. This area is good for finding larger birds like Secretary Birds, Southern Black- and Karoo Korhaans, Jackal Buzzard, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Common Quail, Cape Longclaw, African Pipit, Large-billed and Agulhas Long-billed Larks, African Stonechat, etc.
About the Birding Site
The Goukou River runs from the Langeberg Mountain range towards Stilbaai and flows into the sea at Stilbaai. The total length of the river is approximately 50km from its source to the mouth. The river constantly has a trickle of water flowing to the coast and thus provides good wetland birding in the adjoining reed beds and permanent pools of water. At a point approximately 18km from its mouth a concrete causeway is located at GPS -34.2715˚S, 21.2993˚E.
At first glance, when arriving at the causeway, the area may appear almost sterile of birds, but when a couple of minutes are spent at the causeway a couple of bird species can be observed. The outing to the causeway however presents very good birding along the approach roads to the causeway, irrespective of from which side you approach.
To date, 149 different bird species have been recorded in the area surrounding the Causeway. A typical 2 to 3 hour visit in summer to this area will likely yield between 75 and 90 bird species.
Other Related Information
Driving conditions on the gravel roads are normally quite good albeit probably slightly corrugated and dusty. Any type of vehicle can be driven on these roads which are all considered safe to travel.
Best birding conditions are normally encountered early mornings after sunrise when most birds are active, and the wind is not blowing. Winds tend to pick up speed towards midday and in the afternoons which cause many bird species to go into hiding in the thickets.
Mid-mornings in good warm and sunny conditions present the best opportunity to view especially the Pipits and Larks.
Text prepared by:
Francois Furstenburg, Stilbaai U3A Bird Group