Western Cape, Plettenberg Bay – Rietvlei Dam, White Horse Dam and Rietvlei Road Polo Fields and Emily Moon

About the Birding

Rietvlei dam (-34.0195, 23.3801) on Rietvlei road, just past Buco, is a good place to see the Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard, Blue-billed Teal, African Swamphen, African Darter, Black-crowned Night Heron, and on occasions, Goliath Heron.

The Polo fields on the eastern side of the road usually have an array of Geese and Ibis, but the occasional African Pipit or Cape Longclaw might be seen here too.
Summer visitors include numerous Barn Swallows, but keep a lookout for Sand, Common House and Banded Martin on the telephone wires above the reeds on Rietvlei Gravel Road (-34.01763, 23.37468). African Rail and Red-chested Flufftail can be heard calling in the thick reed beds as well as Little Rush and Lesser Swamp Warblers.

The White Horse Dam (-34.0190, 23.3668) is a good spot for Grey, and sometimes, Goliath Herons. African Darter, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-billed Teal, Common Moorhen and Little Grebe are found around the Dam. In the forest behind the dam, listen out for Klaas’s, Diederik Cuckoo as well as Olive Bush Shrike. Grey Sunbird, Red-faced Mousebird and Cardinal Woodpecker are also seen in this area.

From the parking lot at Emily Moon River Lodge (-34.0108, 23.3737) – a glorious view over the Bitou awaits. Western Osprey, African Fish Eagle, Mallard, Eurasian Whimbrel and Reed and White-breasted Cormorant can be seen. Pied and Giant Kingfisher can also be on the wires above the river. Klaas’s Cuckoo, Spotted Flycatcher, Southern Tchagra, Southern Boubou, Black Cuckooshrike, Brown-hooded Kingfisher and Pin-tailed Whydah can also be seen in the gardens.
In areas of thicket, one can look out for Knysna Turaco, Knysna Woodpecker, and sometimes Black-bellied Starling.

About the Birding Site

The area around Rietvlei Dam offers some incredible water birding, as well as a few thicket and forest species on offer. The accessibility of the sites also makes a great spot for a morning or afternoon birding session, and up to 50 species can be recorded in a few hours.

Indigenous forest, fynbos, coastal rocky cliffs, urban gardens, wetlands, grasslands, and estuary ensures a wide range of habitat around this beautiful birding area between Knysna and Tsitsikamma.

Key species:

Knysna Warbler, Victorin’s Warbler, Knysna Turaco, Knysna Woodpecker, African Rail, Red-chested Flufftail, Glossy Ibis, Cape Siskin, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Karoo Prinia

Other Related Information

The turn off from the N2 for the Rietvlei road is at -34.02236, 23.38145 (https://maps.app.goo.gl/v3ft5bXj2bUhhX4u7).
This site is largely roadside birding, making it ideal for the mobility impaired.
There is no fee or permit required to visit this site.
There are numerous shops and fuel stations in the area.

Other related information:

Text prepared by:

Ian Pletzer, BirdwatchPlett & Outeniqua Birding

Text edited by:

Justin Ponder

Key species:

Olive Bushshrike, Grey Sunbird, Knysna Turaco, Knysna Woodpecker, Black-bellied Starling, Southern Tchagra, Black Cuckooshrike, Red-chested Flufftail, African Rail, Whimbrel.

Contact details: