Jeffrey’s Bay and St Francis – Kabeljous Lagoon Nature Reserve

About the Birding

Situated on the eastern side of the coastal village of Jeffrey’s Bay, the 200 hectare Kabeljous Lagoon Nature Reserve is centred on the Kabeljous River. The river itself leads into a large lagoon that terminates in a blind Estuary. A 3-hour visit should deliver in excess of 50 species, including a good diversity of coastal species and waders. Over 130 species are known to occur.

When entering the Reserve at the gate on the R102 it will be necessary to park at the gate. A small foot path leads from the gate in the direction of the bridge over the Kabeljous River. Look along the initial stretch for the Karoo Scrub-robin, Familiar Chat and various Sunbirds. Keep to the right until the river is reached then follow the river scanning the banks constantly. The river itself supports Western Osprey, African Fish Eagle, Goliath Heron and African Spoonbill. Closer to the bridge, look for the Purple Heron, Giant Kingfisher and at times the Black Crake. These species are joined by a plethora of migrant waders in the summer months.

Valley thicket on either side of the river supports the Knysna Woodpecker, Southern Tchagra, Green Woodhoopoe, and Olive Bush-shrike. Black Harrier is occasional.

Key species:

Knysna Woodpecker, Goliath Heron, African Fish Eagle, Southern Tchagra

About the Birding Site

Located roughly 60Km to the west of Port Elizabeth, the small coastal villages of St Francis and Jeffreys Bay are popular among holidaymakers. The area is perhaps best known for their uncrowded pristine beaches and surf conditions. However, in an ecological sense, the region is perfectly situated in a transitional zone between the summer and winter rainfall areas of the Eastern Cape. As such, several notable habitats meet within this broad area include up to 5 distinct biomes!

This habitat diversity translates to an incredible diversity of bird species, amounting to roughly 300 bird species, and several notable endemics and highly threatened species are easily found in the area. Top among these are the White-bellied Bustard, Cape Clapper Lark, Black Harrier, Red-winged Francolin, Knysna Warbler, Knysna Woodpecker and Southern Tchagra. The region is best visited in the summer months when the resident bird species are supplemented by large numbers of migrant waders and the possibility of finding vagrants provides a constant level of interest and excitement when visiting the region.

Key species:

Knysna Woodpecker, Goliath Heron, African Fish Eagle, Southern Tchagra

Other Related Information

The Kabeljous Lagoon Nature Reserve can be approached along Da Gama Road heading west from Jeffrey’s Bay. Turn right into Kabeljous Road. Park on the grassed area at the edge of the Lagoon where one can picnic and watch the waterfowl on and along the edge of the lagoon. The reserve itself is marked on the right roughly 200m after the bridge.

Other related information:

Recommended accommodation nearby:
The only Birder Friendly Establishment within the wider area is the 4-star rated Oyster Bay Lodge, located within a 235 hectare coastal reserve. A variety of activities are on offer through the Oyster Bay Lodge including horse riding, several hiking trails, sand boarding, and guided birdwatching outings. For more information or to make a reservation, contact:

Oyster Bay Lodge
Tel: +27 (0)42 297 0150
Fax: +27 (0)42 297 0150
Mobile: +27 (0)82 700 0553

A variety of alternate accommodation options are available in Humansdorp, St Francis and Jeffrey’s Bay to suit all requirements and budgets.

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

Text prepared by:
Daniel Keith Danckwerts (Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Tours)

Key species:

Knysna Woodpecker, Goliath Heron, African Fish Eagle, Southern Tchagra

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

Jeffrey’s Bay tourism

Tel: +27 (0)42 293 2923
Fax: +27 (0)42 293 2924