Port Elizabeth and surrounds – Van Staden’s Nature Reserve and Lady Slipper Mountain

About the Birding

The Van Staden’s Wildflower Reserve protects 450 hectares of rich coastal fynbos, rich in proteas, as well as small areas of riverine forest. The reserve supports an impressive list of over 160 bird species including several fynbos endemics. A morning visit should be sufficient and will likely produce a list of 60+ species including most fynbos specials. Visits to the Van Staden’s reserve are best combined with a visit to the nearby Lady Slipper Mountain.

The Amethyst, Greater Double-collared and Orange-breasted Sunbirds are all fairly common in the fynbos – particularly in the winter months, when most plant species are in bloom. Cape Sugarbird is conspicuous in stands of mature proteas and Victorin’s Warbler call from thickets; however, seeing the latter species requires patience and perseverance. Cape Rock Thrush, Bokmakierie, African Stonechat, Yellow Bishop, Cape Canary, and Common Waxbill are all common in fynbos scrub near the entrance.

Riverine forest along the Van Staden’s River and in the Van Staden’s Pass are reliable sites to look for Narina Trogon in the summer months. Other species present include Knysna Woodpecker, White-starred Robin, Yellow-throated Woodland Warbler, Dark-backed Weaver and Knysna Warbler. African Crowned Eagle nest nearby and are sometimes seen soaring over the reserve. The river itself holds Half-collared Kingfisher and, occasionally, African Finfoot.

The nearby Lady Slipper Mountain is blanketed in montane fynbos and is the closest place to Port Elizabeth at which to see several key fynbos endemics. Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Siskin are all reasonably common. Protea Canary is infrequently reported, but birders should be mindful of this species among the common Streaky-headed Seedeater. Victorin’s Warbler are present in dense fynbos near the summit. Cape and Sentinel Rock Thrushes prefer rocky areas near the summit – alongside Familiar Chat, Cinnamon-breasted Bunting, and Long-billed Pipit. Cape Rockjumper is no longer present. Raptors on the mountain include Rock Kestrel, Forest Buzzard, Booted Eagle, Little Sparrowhawk, Black Harrier, and both Peregrine and Lanner Falcons.

Key species:

Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Olive Bushshrike, Narina Trogon

About the Birding Site

Port Elizabeth, an idyllic coastal city, is perhaps the most accessible port of entry into the Eastern Cape. Known as the ‘Friendly City,’ Port Elizabeth offers a superb value-for-money holiday base with a diverse selection of attractions, within easy reach, including a number of scenic nature trails, historic heritage, cultural experiences and several bird and wildlife viewing hotspots. Perhaps most important are the core section of Addo Elephant National Park and the Baviaanskloof Wilderness Complex; both under 1hr drive from the city’s international airport.

Other notable hotspots within easy reach are Settler’s Park, the Swartkops Estuary, Tankatara Road, Cape Recife Nature Reserve, and the Island Forest Reserve.

Key species:

Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Olive Bushshrike, Narina Trogon

Other Related Information

Travel west from Port Elizabeth on the national highway ‘N2’ for roughly 40km. Exit to the left on the R102 towards the Van Staden’s Pass. The entrance to the Flower Reserve is roughly 1km along this road, to the right.

The nearest towns are:
Port Elizabeth: 37Km
Jeffrey’s Bay: 43Km
Uitenhage: 28Km

Other related information:

Public bathrooms and picnic sites are provided near the main entrance. A network of trails also runs through the Wildflower Reserve.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
No Birder Friendly Establishments are currently listed for the wider Port Elizabeth area. However, there are many accommodation options in Port Elizabeth that cater for diverse budgets and requirements.

Local guide information:
Local birding tours within the wide Port Elizabeth area can be organised through:

Bird & Eco-tours
Tour/guiding/free information service in the Port Elizabeth area
Tel: +27 (0)41 466 5698

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

Key species:

Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, Olive Bushshrike, Narina Trogon

Contact details:

Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism

Tel: +27 (0)41 581 7540 / +27 (0)42 582 2573
Fax: +27 (0)42 581 7544 / +27 (0)41 582 2573
Email: info@nmbt.co.za
Website: www.nmbt.co.za