Transkei – Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall

About the Birding

Isolated coastal and swamp forests host an incredible diversity of bird species. The rare Spotted Ground Thrush is an occasional breeding visitor during the summer months, together with small numbers of Mangrove Kingfisher. Other characteristic species include the Green Woodhoopoe, both Crowned and Trumpeter Hornbills, Grey Cuckooshrike, Narina Trogon, Common Square-tailed Drongo, Blue-mantled Crested Flycatcher, both Chorister and Red-capped Robin-chats, and Olive Bush-shrike.

Time spent exploring grassland habitats should yield the both Cape and Yellow-throated Longclaws, Croaking Cisticola, both African and Plain-backed Pipits, and Drakensburg Prinia. Damp sedges in drainage lines host the scarce Orange-breasted Waxbill, Burchell’s Coucal, Dark-capped (African) Yellow Warbler, and Broad-tailed Warbler (Fan-tailed Grassbird). Flocks of the nomadic Black-winged Lapwing are occasionally sighted in the area. Notable large terrestrial birds include the Blue and Grey Crowned Cranes, Denham’s Bustard, and Southern Ground Hornbill.

Key species:

Spotted Ground Thrush, Mangrove Kingfisher, Chorister and Red-capped Robin-chats, Grey Crowned Crane

About the Birding Site

Until very recently, the vast Transkei has been the least explored region of the Eastern Cape province – extending from Kei Mouth to as far as Port Edward at the border of the KwaZulu-Natal province, and bound to the north by the Drakensburg Mountains. Many parts remain difficult to access, given that the region was considered as an unrecognised state for ‘separate development’ until as recently as 1994. Post-Apartheid, the Transkei was reclassified as part of the Eastern Cape though the region remains almost totally under-developed.

The Transkei convers an estimated area of 45 000Km2 and includes several notable river systems, though is otherwise a generally rugged landscape blanketed by extensive grasslands and isolated forests. Large areas are of agricultural significance, mainly of a subsistence nature, and many parts suffer from decades of over-grazing. However, the region remains ecologically important for several notable reasons.

The many remnant forests along the Transkei coast are of ecological significance in that they support many localized and threatened species. Among these are the Cape Parrot, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Eastern Bronze-naped Pigeon, African Barred Owlet, Mangrove Kingfisher, and Spotted Ground Thrush. As such, most forests on the Transkei are characterized as ‘State Forests’ and have been included into provincial nature reserves. Sites of particular importance include the Manubi State Frest, Hluleka Nature Reserve, Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve and Mkhambathi Nature Reserve. Intact grasslands and wetlands further support large populations of the Wattled Crane, Yellow-breasted Pipit, and the critically endangered Rudd’s Lark. Further exploration in the region will likely deliver other exciting finds – perhaps even a relic breeding population of Egyptian Vultures!

Visits to the Transkei typically for the dedicated birder requiring considerable inside knowledge, some forethought and planning, and a level of self-reliance. However, though those willing to venture into this exciting region will certainly be rewarded with an impressive species list.

Key species:

Spotted Ground Thrush, Mangrove Kingfisher, Chorister and Red-capped Robin-chats, Grey Crowned Crane

Other Related Information

From Mthatha – travel east along the R61. Shortly before the village of Gxulu, turn south on the unpaved road and travel for approximately 90Km through the villages of Tukela, Mdoni, Mzamo, Matayi, Canzibe and Ganzini to reach Coffee Bay. The road is well sign-posted and locals can be approached for directions if required. Hole in the Wall is roughly 5km to the south of Coffee Bay.

Other related information:

Access and facilities:
Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall are accessible by sedan-type vehicles, though be advised that road conditions are variable and high-clearance is recommended.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
No Birder Friendly Establishments are currently available for Coffee Bay or Hole in the Wall. However, a number of accommodation options are available within the area to suit a range of requirements and budgets.

Local guide information:
No Birder Friendly Tour Operators or local guides are currently available for Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall.

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

Key species:

Spotted Ground Thrush, Mangrove Kingfisher, Chorister and Red-capped Robin-chats, Grey Crowned Crane

Contact details:

For more information, contact:

Hole in the Wall

Tel: +27 (0)87 150 6095