Overberg – Bot River Estuary

About the Birding

Despite the size of the Bot River system, most of the shoreline is private property. Rooisand Nature Reserve, near the town of Kleinmond offers the best access to birders. The reserve entrance is on the R44 (-34.3289, 19.0879). After turning onto the dirt road, scan the open fynbos on the right that can hold Denham’s Bustard and Yellow Bishop. Watch out for Plain-backed Pipit on the road edges. Southern Tchagra can be found in the denser vegetation.

Continue along the road, which ends at a public parking lot. Start birding your way along the boardwalk towards the bird hide. On the right there is sometimes a small pan if there has been good rain. Common Ringed and Kittlitz’s Plover, Common Greenshank, Little Stint and Black-winged Stilt can be seen here. On the left of the walkway is the Bot River Estuary. Larger species like Greater and Lesser Flamingos and Little Egrets are regular. This shoreline is good for a variety of shorebirds, with rarer species like Eurasian Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit and Terek Sandpiper possible in summer. Scan any gull/tern roosts for Caspian and Sandwich (in summer) Terns and Kelp, Hartlaub’s and Grey-headed Gulls.

At the end of the boardwalk, continue along the sandy path to the hide. The surrounding coastal vegetation is home to Cape Bulbul, Karoo Prinia, Bar-throated Apalis and Brimstone Canary. As you go towards the hide you will see a small channel on your left, which is a good place to scan for smaller waders like Curlew Sandpiper and Common Ringed Plover. Cape Wagtail and African Pipit feed on small insects along the edge. This channel was the site of the only White Wagtail recorded in the region.

Look out for aerial feeders in this area. Common and Alpine Swifts, Barn and Greater-striped Swallows, and Brown-throated and Sand Martins can all be seen in summer. Common House Martin may also be seen.

From the hide a number of waders can be seen, including Kittlitz’s Plover, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint. Species of waterfowl that can be present are Red-billed Teal, Yellow-billed Duck and Cape Shoveler.

One can also walk towards the estuary mouth, where species such as African Oystercatcher and White-fronted Plover become more common. Greater Sand Plover is a scarce visitor. From the carpark, there is also a dirt track to the left where most of the species mentioned above can be seen.

The low restios fynbos in the area around the reserve is home to a small population of Fynbos Buttonquail, which was historically seen at Arabella Country Estate. Unfortunately, this is not easily accessible to the general public, but it is a good bird to be aware of.

Key species:

Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Eurasian Curlew, Terek Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Plain-backed Pipit, Southern Tchagra, Denham’s Bustard

About the Birding Site

The Bot River Estuary is an Important Bird Area, and home to the thousands of waterfowl and over-summering waders. Despite its relatively large size, most of the shoreline is closed to the public. Rooisand Nature Reserve offers the easiest access to birders, and features a wooden boardwalk and a bird hide.

Key species:

Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Eurasian Curlew, Terek Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Plain-backed Pipit, Southern Tchagra, Denham’s Bustard

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
Access to Rooisand is via -34.3297, 19.0880
Free entry
Although the area is generally safe, please don’t leave valuables in your vehicle

Key species:

Greater and Lesser Flamingos, Eurasian Curlew, Terek Sandpiper, Bar-tailed Godwit, Plain-backed Pipit, Southern Tchagra, Denham’s Bustard

Contact details:

Rooisand Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)87 288 0499

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