Birding in and around Stilbaai offers many diverse opportunities and habitats but birding is normally the best when focused on the following eight most popular birding areas:
• Stilbaai Waste-Water Treatment Works and the Roland Rudd Bird hide
• Gardens and hiking trails at the Palinggat Information and Tourism Centre
• Hiking trails along the Goukou Riverbanks, and the adjoining estuary wetlands
• Morris Point and Skulpiesbaai tern roosting sites
• Skulpiesbaai Nature Reserve (Feetjiesbos) hiking trails
• Pauline Böhnen Fynbos Nature Reserve hiking trails
• Geelkrans hiking trail
• Olive Grove Dam
The popular town of Stilbaai is located about 30km south of the N2 between Riversdale and Albertinia at the mouth of the Goukou River. The marine tidal influence on the river’s water levels extends for about 15km upstream from the coast and this creates good year-round wetland birding on the associated salty marshes. Stilbaai is surrounded by coastal dunes, large stands of Fynbos, Milkwood forests, Renosterveld and the dry dune veld. Birding within the town boundaries as well as in the adjoining developed agricultural areas is very rewarding and species that can be observed are distinctly different from birding in the adjoining drier dune veld and agricultural areas.
The greater Stilbaai area has a current bird list of at least 230 individual bird species. A single day visit is likely to yield a birding list of at least 90 bird species, but a 5 day stay in the area can produce a list of 120 species in summertime with slightly smaller numbers in winter when the migrants are not here.
Migrants start returning from mid to end August and normally stay until somewhere in April.
Most of the walking trails in Stilbaai are not readily accessible for persons with disabilities. Stilbaai however developed an indigenous botanical garden called “Tuin op die Brak” which is located at GPS -34.3676˚ S, 21.4179˚ E. A “Braille” trail has been developed through the garden whereby visually impaired people can appreciate the plants, the texture of their stems and leaves, their names, and appreciate the beautiful smells and aromas. The trails are also accessible for the disabled and persons with restricted mobility. These trails therefore present an ideal opportunity for the handicapped to appreciate nature and the associated birds.
Local guide information:
There are no community bird guides available for the Stilbaai area.
The Stilbaai U3A Bird Group hosts regular early morning (1 to 2 hour long) walks to the interesting birding spots detailed here. Prior arrangement to participate in any of these walks is however required. Further information and details in this regard can be obtained from Francois Furstenburg at 082 578 6933.
The Stilbaai U3A Bird Group manages a WhatsApp group (Stilbaai/Hessequa Birding) where interesting local bird sightings in the Hessequa Municipal Area, or close by its borders, are communicated to the WhatsApp group members. Anyone interested in joining the WhatsApp group should contact Francois Furstenburg directly at 082 578 6933.
The Hessequa Local Municipal area is however actively atlassed as part of the national SABAP2 bird atlassing project whereby each of the 75 pentads in the Hessequa Municipal Area is regularly atlassed in a systematic approach. Stilbaai lies at the heart of the Hessequa Municipal area. This bird atlassing process is managed by a local resident, Johan van Rooyen. Johan has a very good knowledge, database and understanding of all 75 pentads located within Hessequa. He can be contacted for further birding related information regarding the region surrounding Stilbaai as well as further afield within the boundaries of the Hessequa Municipal Area. Johan van Rooyen can be contacted at 082 808 5652.
Text prepared by:
Francois Furstenburg, Stilbaai U3A Bird Group