Greater George – Groeneweide Forest Walks

About the Birding

Forest birding can be quite tedious with bursts of great excitement. This is because most of the birds move around in large bird parties for most of the year. The Greoneweide Forest is a classic forest birding experience in this respect, and one will often walk for long periods of time, not seeing more then the fluttering of a Lemon Dove or glimpses of a robin of some sort, and then, all of a sudden, the forest becomes alive with birds, with Knysna Turaco, Green Wood Hoopoe, Olive Woodpecker, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Black-backed Puffback and many more.

Fruiting trees can also create a hive of activity and one should be on the lookout for these.

Once you arrive at the George Campus, you will find that there are several parking areas (GPS: -33.960896, 22.533441 or -33.955761, 22.530221. It is best to go over a weekend when there are no classes and more parking available, but going early in the morning, you should also find plenty of space to park. Make your way to the start of the trail at GPS: -33.958042, 22.535177. Sign in and get/ take a permit (map). There is a network of trails, and it is important to follow the signs carefully. Entering the forest is like entering a tunnel into a different world – a dark and gloomy world full of mosquitoes and spiders, but also a place to find special treasures such as the Narina Trogon!

The trail initially takes you downhill to where it crosses the Kaaimans River, and up the other side. Be on the lookout for birds of prey whenever the forest opens up and listen for the distinctive call of the African Cuckoo Hawk. I have recorded Crowned Eagle in this area, and they also have a distinctive call. Peregrine Falcons nest higher up the river in the Kaaimans gorge and over fly past overhead. The African Goshawk also flies over the forest in the early morning, calling loudly to proclaim its territory. Both Forest Buzzard and Long-crested Eagle can be seen along the forest edge in the Campus and along the Saasveld road that leads to the Campus from George.

Key species:

Knysna Turaco, Forest Buzzard, Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Chorister Robin-chat, Knysna Warbler, Black-winged Lapwing

About the Birding Site

Situated along a broad coastal plain with a backdrop of the Outeniqua Mountains, which overlook farmlands, wooded gorges, coastal forests, fynbos covered mountain passes and a section of the dry Klein Karoo providing a mosaic of birding habitats.

There lies a great indigenous forest (the Groeneweide Forest), stretched out to the East of Saasveld, just East of George. Saasveld is now the premises of the George Campus of the Nelson Mandela University, and therefore access security controlled. However, the Groeneweide Forest is part of the Garden Route National Part (It is the West most limit of this great National Park), and public are allowed to visit this section of the park to walk along the Groeneweide Hiking Trails. These trails provide a way into one of the largest forest patches in the Western Cape (second to the Knysna Forest). This pristine Southern Afro-temperate Forest is habitat to all the forest birds that have been recorded to live in the Western Cape, including Crowned Eagle and African Cuckoo Hawk.

Key species:

Knysna Turaco, Forest Buzzard, Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Chorister Robin-chat, Knysna Warbler, Black-winged Lapwing

Other Related Information

Groeneweide Forest Walks (Saasveld) entrance: -33.9718, 22.5345

Useful link for more information on the Groeneweide Hiking Trails
http://www.gardenrouteadventureguide.com/groeneweide-hiking-trail.html

Other related information:

Text prepared by:
Christiaan Viljoen

Key species:

Knysna Turaco, Forest Buzzard, Victorin’s Warbler, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Chorister Robin-chat, Knysna Warbler, Black-winged Lapwing

Contact details:

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