West Coast – Berg River Estuary

About the Birding

The best birding is held at the Kuifkopvisvanger Resort and the adjacent Kliphoek Salt Pans. Access to both of these locations is obtained at the Kuifkopvisvanger reception (-32.8117, 18.1941).

After turning off the R27 onto the R399 (-32.8026, 18.1685) look for Secretarybird and Blue Crane in the roadsidefields. After turning into the farm (-32.8155, 18.1802) look for Southern Black Korhaan and Capped Wheatear, and occasionally Cape Long-billed Lark, and Grey-backed Sparrow-lark on either side of the gravel road.

The area around the entrance gate is good for Pearl-breasted Swallow and Rock Martin. Western Barn Owl breed near the buildings; ask the owner, Jan, if he can point them out to you.

After paying a small entrance fee, either head to Kliphoek, or follow the dirt road to head towards the Kuifkopvisvanger pans (-32.7995, 18.1788). On your right you will pass by some marshy habitat. Scan for Marsh and Curlew Sandpiper and Common Greenshank. Stop on the top of the hill before the road curves to the left and scan down on the mud flats. This can be productive and a large variety of waders can be seen including Grey Plover, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Whimbrel and Ruff. Great White Pelicans, African Spoonbill and both Greater and Lesser Flamingos are also common. Watch for Caspian Tern and Western Osprey (summer) as these species can fly past this spot. In the surrounding scrub look for Karoo Scrub-Robin, Chestnut-vented Warbler, African Hoopoe and Acacia Pied Barbet.

Once the road goes over the hill and turns to the left, continue along the road to the pans, listening for Karoo Lark and Cape Penduline-Tit from the vegetation on the left. Jackal Buzzard and Rock Kestrel can be seen on the telephone poles. Position yourself opposite the bank dividing the pans (-32.7995, 18.1788) and begin scanning the pans. Black-necked Grebe, Cape Teal and Cape Shoveler can be seen along with large numbers of migrant waders, Red-necked Phalaropes have been present for the past few summers and it is becoming a reliable spot to see for them.

After getting permission to access the neighbouring Kliphoek Salt Pans drive back to the R399, croos over the Sishen-Saldanha rail bridge and turn left (-32.8269, 18.1890). This complex of artificial pans is one of the best places to get very close to Chestnut-banded Plovers. This special bird is best found along the exposed shorelines of any of these pans. They are often joined by Common Ringed (summer) and Kittlitz’s Plover. Red-necked Phalarope has become regular in recent summers.

The wader watching picks up at high tide, when birds come in to roost from the adjacent river mudflats. Most of these are Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper but in recent years there have been Greater Sand Plover seen in the summer months. Scan the flocks of resting waders for rarities (-32.8250, 18.2026 is a good place to look for flocks). Caspian Tern also roosts in this vicinity.

De Plaat (on the western shore) is another excellent place on the river to scan for waders. To reach it, cross over into Velddrif and head to -32.7937, 18.2080. Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Western Osprey and both species of Flamingo can be seen. Most of the birds seen from the Kuifkop side can be seen here. Other places to scan the river from are along the historic Bokkom Laan (where Mallard can be seen) and by the jetty next to the Riviera Hotel (-32.7868, 18.1744).

Key species:

Chestnut-banded Plover, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Black-necked Grebe and several wader species

About the Birding Site

The lower Berg River Estuary is one of the top places in the Western Cape for watching shorebirds. Spring and summer offer the best birding seeing the arrival of thousands of migrant waders. Specials like Chestnut-banded Plovers are present all year. The salt pans and marshes along the southern bank of the river offer the best birding. The surrounding scrub and farm fields are good for a variety of local specials. As with all shore birding, a scope is highly recommended.

Key species:

Chestnut-banded Plover, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Black-necked Grebe and several wader species

Other Related Information

Other related information:
Access and facilities
Entrance into Kuifkopvisvanger and Kuifkop is R50 per person. It is open from 7:00

Recommended accommodation nearby:
Darling Lodge Guest House: http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/western-cape/#1527714238610-b478514c-ffe8
Strandkombuis: http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/western-cape/#1602503625686-f4b753ea-4e59
Duinepos Chalets: http://www.birdlife.org.za/go-birding/bird-friendly-establishments/western-cape/#1527714685188-4fa219e9-18d5

Key species:

Chestnut-banded Plover, Greater and Lesser Flamingo, Black-necked Grebe and several wader species

Contact details:

Bookings: +27 (0) 22 783 0818
Check-In: +27 (0) 22 783 0818
Cell: +27 (0) 83 759 7075
E-mail: kuifkop@kuifkop.com