Overberg – Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve

About the Birding

Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve is owned by WWF-SA and managed by the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust (ORCT). Haarwegskloof is only approximately 5km away from the boundary of De Hoop Nature Reserve and is physically linked by a watercourse as well as through tributaries of the Sout River.

This large, protected piece of Eastern Rûens Shale Renosterveld consists of approximately 80% virgin land: a matrix of Renosterveld shrublands of different ages, with thicket-like vegetation in the kloofs attracting another suite of avifauna. The remaining 20% of the reserve comprises previously agricultural landscapes.

The reserve is sign-posted from the Road (-34.3306, 20.3768), and Bredasdorp/Malgas Road (-34.3881, 20.3069).

When approaching from Swellendam/Spitskop, scan the fields immediately after the turn. Cape Vulture (from the nearby Potberg colony) are occasionally seen in these pastures. Karoo Korhaan are also possible. More common are Red-capped and Large-billed Larks, Pied Starling, Cape Weavers and other seed-eating species.

If you leave the Bredasdorp/Malgas Road, scan the roadside fields for Denham’s Bustards, Secretarybirds and Karoo Korhaan. Common Quail (summer) is abundant amongst the growing wheat. The birding from the directional sign (-34.3732, 20.2833) to the Renosterveld Research and Visitors Centre (-34.3381, 20.3268) is excellent. Agulhas Long-billed Larks are common along this road, especially once you get to the start of the reserve (-34.3598, 20.3090). The distinctive Agulhas form of Cape Clapper Lark is especially conspicuous in the early morning as they undertake their unmistakable display flights. Cloud Cisticola is also common along this stretch. Coveys of noisy Grey-winged Francolins can be surprisingly common. Both Southern Black Korhaan, and Denham’s Bustard, and probably Karoo Korhaan breed on the reserve. Black Harriers (another breeding species) are regularly seen hunting low over the Renosterveld. Coveys of Namaqua Sandgrouse regularly drink at the dam near the old cottage (-34.3436, 20.3250).

Both access roads will meet at the Renosterveld Research and Visitors Centre (-34.3381, 20.3268) where you can park and follow on foot. Start at the gate (-34.3379, 20.3247), working your way through the renosterveld to the junction (-34.3371, 20.3230). Here you can continue right and up to the lookout point (-34.3344, 20.3224), and onto the botanical interpretive trail: or left and along the road to the reserve boundary (-34.3351, 20.3094). The birding along either route is excellent and offers plenty of opportunities to see most of the species mentioned above.

Key species:

Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Vulture, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Cape Clapper Lark, Denham’s Bustard, Cloud Cisticola

About the Birding Site

The Haarwegskloof Renosterveld Reserve protects one of the largest and most contiguous remaining stretches of critically endangered Renosterveld. Located between Bredasdorp and Malgas, and immediately north of De Hoop Nature Reserve, it sheds light on what the Agulhas Plains looked like prior to extensive agricultural transformation. Apart from the breath-taking botanical diversity, the reserve is a refuge for endemics like Black Harrier, Denham’s Bustard, Cloud Cisticola and both Agulhas Long-billed Lark and the Agulhas form of Cape Clapper Lark.

Key species:

Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Vulture, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Cape Clapper Lark, Denham’s Bustard, Cloud Cisticola

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
Renosterveld Research and Visitors Centre: -34.3381, 20.3268
No admission cost, but a donation to the Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust is welcome. However, visits (unguided) are by appointment only at this point in time.
Disabled access: the trials and roads are not suitable

Other related information:

Recommended accommodation nearby:
The ORCT renovated the homestead and adjacent old dairy, located on the reserve. The homestead now serves as a, giving Renosterveld a home, while the old dairy is a quirky, fully equipped guesthouse. The centre is uniquely positioned to become globally recognised for Renosterveld research and education, as well as eco-tourism. The reserve can thus accommodate students, visiting scientists, birders and other naturalists – anyone with an interest in Renosterveld!

Potteberg Guesthouse – 072 461 4057 (Saartjie Neethling)

Local guide information:
Absolute Birding: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527800486296-4d544ea0-b3b6
Birding Africa: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527800843201-e0dd8be5-1491
Birding Eco-tours: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527837069054-d73b5915-e2a1
Cape Eco-tours: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527837703508-e06f57e0-d098
Lawson’s Birding, Wildlife and custom Safaris: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527838131789-84d3b3f2-444d
Rockjumper Worldwide Birding Adventures: https://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-tour-operators/#1527838131789-84d3b3f2-444d

Text prepared by:
Odette Curtis-Scott, Director, Overberg Renosterveld Conservation Trust
Vincent Ward, Birding Africa Tours

Key species:

Black Harrier, Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Vulture, Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Cape Clapper Lark, Denham’s Bustard, Cloud Cisticola

Contact details:

Overberg Renosterveld Reserve
Cell: +27 (0)82 762 2787
Tel: +27 (0)28 423 3176
Bookings through Sharon King: bookings@overbergrenosterveld.org.za
Website: https://overbergrenosterveld.org.za/