Jeffrey’s Bay and St Francis – Kromme River Estuary

About the Birding

The Kromme River Estuary is well-known as one of the premier wader watching sites in Southern Africa. Large numbers of Palearctic migrants arrive in the summer months including immense numbers of Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Whimbrel, Curlew and Marsh Sandpipers, Common Greenshank, Little Stint, Ruff, and Common Ringed, Kittlitz’s and Grey Plovers. This is also one of the premier sites in the Eastern Cape to find Eurasian Curlew, Greater Sand Plover, Red Knot and Terek Sandpiper.

The site is well-known for the number of vagrants it produces, and recent rarities have included the Hudsonian Godwit, Pacific Golden Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, Eurasian Oystercatcher and Citrine Wagtail.

A large tern roost regularly forms at the mouth of the Kromme River. Greater Crested, Common and Sandwich Terns are usually in attendance. Damara Tern are sometimes present between September and April, while Roseate Tern is sometimes present between April and October.

Scour the reedbeds and the extensive salt marsh for African Snipe, Black Crake, and both Purple and Goliath Heron. Flocks of Greater Flamingo appear intermittently. African Marsh Harrier is usually seen quartering low. Thickets along the edge of the estuary support the sought-after Knysna Woodpecker and Southern Tchagra.

Key species:

Bar-tailed Godwit, Greater Sand Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Red Knot, Terek Sandpiper

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:

Bar-tailed Godwit, Greater Sand Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Red Knot, Terek Sandpiper

Other Related Information

Enter St Francis Bay along the R330. The bridge at -34.1403, 24.8106 provides a fantastic vantage from which to scan the surrounding salt marshes. It is also possible to park here and to walk downriver along the salt marsh to access extensive sections of the mudflats at low tide. Alternaitevely, enter St Francis along Lyme Road North and follow the signposts to the Kromme River Mouth. The extensive mudflats are best viewed at low tide.

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:

Bar-tailed Godwit, Greater Sand Plover, Eurasian Curlew, Red Knot, Terek Sandpiper

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

Jeffrey’s Bay tourism

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