Jeffrey’s Bay and St Francis – Seekoei River Nature Reserve

About the Birding

To the south of Jeffrey’s Bay, near the small village of Aston Bay, is the Seekoei River Nature Reserve established to protect the water birds living round the mouth of the river. A number of paths emanate from the entrance leading inland through fynbos where the Karoo Scrub-Robin, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Neddicky, Cape Robin-chat, Karoo Prinia, Streaky-headed Seedeater, Brimstone Canary and Bar-throated Apalis can all be seen.

Follow the signs to the Bird Hide which offers a wide panoramic view of the Lagoon. The lagoon itself is home to a large variety of water birds during the summer months. Caspian Tern, Cape Teal, Goliath and Grey Heron, Western Osprey and the occasional African Fish Eagle, Reed Cormorant, Cape Shoveler, Red-billed Teal, African Spoonbill, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Sacred Ibis and Egyptian Goose and other Waders are often seen. Difficult to see waders often congregate among the rocks and pebbles at the water’s edge below the hide. These often include Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone as well as the Kittlitz’s, White-fronted and Three-banded Plovers.

Walking west along the river bank, heading upstream from the hide, there are some reed beds that conceal Lesser Swamp Warblers. You then reach a pontoon/raft on a cable on which you can pull yourself across the Swart River (unless the river is very dry) to a 3km hiking trail on the central island. Be warned that you may have to wait, or swim back across the river, if someone has already taken the raft back. Here you could have the opportunity to see bush birds, including the Southern Tchagra, but these birds are not plentiful on this walk.

To have a closer view of the birds on the south side of the Seekoei River, it is advisable to drive back to the main gate and turn right across the causeway to Paradise Beach side of the estuary. Here you could find Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Little Egret, Purple Heron, Blacksmith Lapwing, Giant and Pied Kingfisher on the banks, and in the short grass and shrub you should see Levaillant’s Cisticola, Cape Wagtail and Cape Weaver.

Key species:

African Fish Eagle, Caspian Tern, Southern Tchagra, Karoo Scrub-robin

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:

African Fish Eagle, Caspian Tern, Southern Tchagra, Karoo Scrub-robin

Other Related Information

Seekoi River Nature Reserve is reached by taking the Aston Bay road to the west of Jeffrey’s Bay. Upon reaching Aston Bay, follow Dolphin Drive then turn right into Swan Drive. The entrance to the reserve is on the right just before reaching the lagoon itself. The entrance to the reserve is clearly signposted and has a large archway as a gate. Be sure to park under the large Fig Trees alongside the Nature Conservation offices where a map of the area can be obtained. There is no charge for entry into the reserve.

Other related information:

Access and facilities:
A network of trails, including a 3Km hiking trail on the opposite side of the river, and a bird hide are provided. Access is admission free.

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:

African Fish Eagle, Caspian Tern, Southern Tchagra, Karoo Scrub-robin

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

Jeffrey’s Bay tourism

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