Various popular birding spots can be found in the Kouga.

The Community Garden in St Francis Bay, The Cove on the canals, Van Stadens River Mouth, Kabeljous, Soutvlei – all are sheltered spots to be and when the wind is blowing. In the dips of the roads you will find the bush birds, but driving inland towards Hankey, away from the coastal wind, as far as the Baviaanskloof – is ideal for birding.

Birding in the Sand river

Birding in the Sand river

The Kromme River and surrounding farmlands sport a wide variety of habitats: riverine with mud and sand banks, salt marshes, coastal scrub, fynbos, open veld, agricultural land, as well as occasional freshwater vleis, and pans. Here we find a variety of birds including some of the special and endangered ones, such as the Denham’s Bustard, Blue Crane and White-bellied Korhaan.

Water birds abound on the sand banks in the Kromme especially in summer when the migrants are here. The best time to observe the birds is when the tide is coming in and the water pushes the birds closer to the banks of the river. Evening, provided the tide is right, is best for waders when the setting sun shines on the sandbanks in the estuary and highlights the identification features of the birds with their different sizes, plumages, and bill lengths. The bill lengths differ according to the foods they eat, so they can feed close together in perfect harmony without undue competition.

Watch out for the diminutive White-fronted Plover, Ringed Plover with its bright orange legs and black band across the chest, Common Whimbrel, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling, Grey Plover, Ruddy Turnstone and the striking African Black Oystercatcher which are all regulars on the sand banks. Bar-tailed Godwit, Greater Sand Plover and Red Knot also make an appearance at odd times. A boat trip on the river can yield African Fish-eagle and Osprey, as well as a variety of kingfishers and other species in the riverine and coastal bush alongside the river.

Terns found on the estuary, from biggest to smallest include the Caspian Tern (largest one sporting a bright red bill); Swift Tern (yellow bill); Sandwich Tern (black bill and yellow tip – think of it as a blob of butter on a sandwich); Common Tern (grey carpal bar on the shoulder) and the diminutive Little Tern. Roseate Terns with pink breasts and long tail feathers also make an appearance but are not easy to spot.

Cape St Francis and Seal Point are both rocky promontories from which you can see Cape Gannet and terns diving for fish. White-breasted and Cape Cormorant can be seen fishing off-shore or basking on the rocks while Kelp Gulls are continually on the hunt for anything they can scavenge.

Because the St Francis area juts out into the sea, it serves as a resting point for seabirds, which have been blown off course. “Out of Range” water birds such as Slender-billed Prion, Red-tailed Tropic Bird, Lesser Frigate Bird, American Golden Plover and others have landed up on our shores. The possibility of finding vagrants and less common species provides constant interest and excitement. Pelagic expeditions can be organised at the St Francis Sustainable Seas Centre from Port St Francis for birds occurring in the open ocean.

Travel along the gravel roads in the area and you will be pleasantly surprised by the birdlife in the fields and vleis, especially after rain. Park alongside the road and look out for Blue Crane, Denham’s Bustard, White Stork (in summer), Long-tailed Widowbird, Black-winged Lapwing, larks, pipits and cisticolas, and if you are really lucky, White-bellied Korhaan. On the odd vlei visible from the road you may find Common Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, and a variety of ducks.

Raptors such as Steppe Buzzard and Amur Falcon occur in summer, and Jackal Buzzard, Rock Kestrel and African Marsh-Harrier can be found throughout the year. Raptors such as Long-crested and Booted Eagle have also made appearances occasionally.

Walking in the Cape St Francis Nature Reserves, you can enjoy the local fynbos and the birds (mostly small) that frequent this area.

Here is a complete list of birds spotted in the greater St Francis, compiled by Yvonne Bosman:

Albatross, Black-browed Swartrugalbatros (-malmok)
Albatross, Wandering Grootalbatros/Grootmalmok
Apalis, Bar-throated Bandkeelkleinjantjie
Apalis, Yellow-breasted Geelborskleinjantjie
Avocet Pied Bontelsie
Barbet Black-collared Rooikophoutkapper
Batis Cape Kaapse Bosbontrokkie
Bishop Southern Red Rooivink
Bishop Yellow Kaapse Flap
Bittern Little Kleinrietreier
Bokmakierie Bokmakierie
Boubou Southern Suidelike Waterfiskaal
Brownbul Terrestrial Boskrapper
Bulbul Cape Kaapse Tiptol
Bunting Cape Rooivlerkstreepkoppie
Bunting Golden-breasted Rooirugstreepkoppie
Bush-Shrike Olive Olyfboslaksman
Bustard Denham’s Veldpou
Buzzard Jackal Rooiborsjakkalsvoel
Buzzard Steppe Bruinjakkalsvoel
Cameroptera Green-backed Kwe-kwevoel
Canary Brimstone Dikbekkanarie
Canary Cape Kaapse Kanarie
Canary Forest Gestreepte Kanarie
Canary Yellow Geelkanarie
Chat Ant-eating Swartpiek
Chat Familiar Gewone Spekvreter
Cisticola Cloud Gevlekte Klopkloppie
Cisticola Zitting Landeryklopkloppie
Cisticola Grey-backed Grysrugtintinkie
? Cisticola Lazy Luitinktinkie
Cisticola Levaillant’s Vleitinktinkie
Coot Red-knobbed Bleshoender
Cormorant Cape Trekduiker
Cormorant Reed Rietduiker
Cormorant White-breasted Witborsduiker
Coucal Burchell’s Gewone Vleiloerie
Crake Black Swartriethaan
Crane Blue Bloukraanvoel
Crested-Flycatcher Blue-mantled Bloukuifvlieevanger
Crow Cape Swartkraai
Crow Pied Witborskraai
Cuckoo Black Swartkoekoek
Cuckoo Diderick Diederikkie
Cuckoo Jacobin Bontnuwejaarsvoel
Cuckoo Klaas’s Meitjie
Cuckoo Red-chested Piet-my-vrou
Curlew Eurasian Grootwulp
Darter African Slanghalsvoel
Dove Lemon Kaneelduifie
Dove Laughing Rooiborsduifie
Dove Namaqua Namakwaduifie
Dove Tambourine Witborsduifie
Dove Red-eyed Grootringduif
Drongo Fork-tailed Mikstertbyvanger
Duck African, Black Swarteend
Duck Maccoa Bloubekeend
Duck White-faced Nonnetjie-eend
Duck Yellow-billed Geelbekeend
Eagle Booted Dwergarend
Eagle Long-crested Langkuifarend
Eagle Martial Breekoparend
Eagle-Owl Spotted Gevlekte Ooruil
Egret Cattle Veereier / Bosluisvoel
Egret Great Grootwitreier
Egret Little Kleinwitreier
Egret, Yellow-billed Geelbekwitreier
Falcon Lanner Edelvalk
Falcon Peregrine Swerfvalk
Falcon Amur Oostelike Rooipootvalk
Finfoot African Watertrapper
Firefinch African Kaapse Vuurvinkie
Fiscal Common Fiskaallaksman
Fish-Eagle African Visarend
Flamingo Greater Grootflamink
Flamingo Lesser Klienflamink
Flufftail Buff-spotted Gevlekte Vleikuiken
Flycatcher African Dusky Donkervlieevanger
Flycatcher Fiscal Fiskaalvlieevanger
Gannet Cape Witmalgas
Godwit Bar-tailed Bandstertgriet
Goose Egyptian Kolgans
Goose Spur-winged Wildemakou
Goshawk African Afrikaanse Sperwer
Grassbird Cape Grasvoel
Grebe Little Kleindobbertjie
Greenbul Sombre Gewone Willie
Greenshank Common Groenpootruiter
Guineafowl Helmeted Gewone Tarentaal
Gull Grey-headed Gryskopmeeu
Gull Kelp Kelpmeeu / Swartrugmeeu
Hamerkop Hamerkop
Harrier Black Witkruisvleivalk
Harrier-Hawk African Kaalwangvalk
Heron Black-headed Swartkopreier
Heron Grey Bloureier
Heron Goliath Reusereier
Heron Purple Rooireier
Honeyguide Greater Grootheuningwyser
Honeyguide Lesser Kleinheuningwyser
Hoopoe African Hoephoep
Hornbill Crowned Gekroonde Neushoringvoel
Ibis Hadeda Hadeda
Ibis African Sacred Skoorsteenveer
Jacana African Grootlangtoon
Kestrel Rock Kransvalk
Kingfisher Brown-hooded Bruinkopvisvanger
Kingfisher Giant Reusevisvanger
Kingfisher Half-collared Blouvisvanger
Kingfisher Malachite Kuifkopvisvanger
Kingfisher Pied Bontvisvanger
Kite Yellow-billed Geelbekwou
Kite Black-shouldered Blouvalk
Knot Red Knoet
Lapwing Blacksmith Bontkiewiet
Lapwing Black-winged Grootswartvlerkkiewiet
Lapwing Crowned Kroonkiewiet
Lark Cape Clapper Kaapse Klappertjie
Lark Red-capped Rooikoplewerik
Lark Rufous-naped Rooineklewerik
Longclaw Cape Oranjekeelkalkoentjie
Marsh-Harrier African Afrikaanse Veivalk
Martin Banded Gebande Oewerswael
Martin Brown-throated Afrikaanse Oewerswael
Martin Rock Kransswael
Martin Sand Europese Oewerswael
Moorhen Common Grootwaterhoender
Mousebird Red-faced Rooiwangmuisvoel
Mousebird Speckled Gevelkte Muisvoel
Neddicky Neddikkie
Night-Heron Black-crowned Gewone nagreier
Nightjar Fiery-necked Afrikaanse Naguil
Olive-Pigeon African Geelbekbosduif
Oriole Black-headed Swartkopwielewaal
Osprey Visvalk
Ostrich Common Volstruis
Owl Barn Nonnetjie-uil
Oystercatcher African Black Swarttobie
Palm-Swift African Palmwindswael
Paradise-Flycatcher African Paradysvlieevanger
Penguin African Brilpikkewyn
Pigeon Rock Tuinduif
Pigeon Speckled Kransduif
Pipit African Gewone Koester
Plover Chestnut-banded Rooibandstrandkiewiet
Plover Grey Grysstrandkiewiet
Plover Kittlitz’s Geelborsstrandkiewiet
Plover Lesser Sand Mongoolse strandkiewiet
Plover Common Ringed Ringnekstrandkiewiet
Plover Greater Sand Grootstrandkiewiet
Plover Three-banded Driebandstrandkiewiet
Plover White-fronted Vaalstrandkiewiet
Pochard Southern Bruineend
Prinia Karoo Karoolangstertjie
Puffback Black-backed Sneeubal
Quail Common Afrikaanse Kwartel
Quailfinch African Gewone Kwartelvinkie
Quelea Red-billed Rooibekkwelea
Raven White-necked Withalskraai
Reed-Warbler African Kleinrietsanger
Robin-Chat Cape Gewone Janfrederik
Rock-Thrush Cape Kaapse Kliplyster
Ruff Kemphaan
Rush-Warbler Little Kaapse Vleisanger
Sanderling Drietoonstrandloper
Sandpiper Common Gewone Ruiter
Sandpiper Curlew Krombekstrandloper
Sandpiper Marsh Moerasruiter
Sandpiper Pectoral Geelpootstrandloper
Sandpiper Terek Terekruiter
Sandpiper Wood Bosruiter
Saw-wing Black Swartsaagvlerkswael
Scrub-Robin Karoo Slangverklikker
Scrub-Robin White-browed Gestreepte Wipstert
Secretarybird Sekretarisvoel
Seedeater Streaky-headed Streepkopkanarie
Shelduck South African Kopereend
Shoveler Cape Kaapse Slopeend
Skua Arctic Arktiese roofmeeu
Skua Subantarctic Bruinroofmeeu
Snipe African Afrikaanse Snip
Sparrow Cape Gewone Mossie
Sparrow S Grey-headed Gryskopmossie
Sparrow House Huismossie
Sparrowhawk Little Kleinsperwer
Sparrowhawk Rufous-chested Rooiborssperwer
Spoonbill African Lepelaar
Spur-fowl Red-necked Rooikeelfisant
Starling Black-bellied Swartpensglansspreeu
Starling Common Europese Spreeu
Starling Cape Glossy Kleinglansspreeu
Starling Pied Witgatspreeu
Starling Red-winged Rooivlerkspreeu
Starling Wattled Lelspreeu
Stilt Black-winged Rooipootelsie
Stint Little Kleinstrandloper
Stonechat African Gewone Bontrokkie
Stork White Witooievaar
Sugarbird Cape Kaapse Suikervoel
Sunbird Amethyst Swartsuikerbekkie
Sunbird Collared Kortbeksuikerbekkie
Sunbird Grt Double-collared Groot-rooiborssuikerbekkie
Sunbird Grey Gryssuikerbekkie
Sunbird S. Double-collared Klein-rooiborssuikerbekkie
Sunbird Malachite Jangroentjie
Sunbird Orange-breasted Oranjeborssuikerbekkie
Swallow Barn Europese Swael
Swallow Pearl-breasted Perelborsswael
Swallow Greater Striped Grootstreepswael
Swallow Lesser Striped Kleinstreepswael
Swallow White-throated Witkeelswael
Swamphen African Purple Grootkoningriethaan
Swamp-Warbler Lesser Kaapse Rietsanger
Swift Alpine Witpenswindswael
Swift African Black Swartwindswael
Swift Common Europese windswael
Swift Horus Horuswindswael
Swift Little Kleinwindswael
Swift White-rumped Witkruiswindswael
Tchagra Southern Grysborstjagra
Teal Cape Teeleend
Teal Red-billed Rooibekeend
Tern Arctic Arktiese Sterretjie
Tern Caspian Reusesterretjie
Tern Common Gewone Sterretjie
Tern Little Kleinsterretjie
Tern Roseate Rooiborssterretjie
Tern Sandwich Grootsterretjie
Tern Swift Geelbeksterretjie
Tern Whiskered Witbaardsterretjie
Tern White-winged Witvlerksterretjie
Thick-knee Spotted Gewone Dikkop
Thick-knee Water Waterdikkop
Thrush Olive Olyflyster
Trogon Narina Bosloerie
Turaco Knysna Knysnaloerie
Turnstone Ruddy Steenloper
Turtle-Dove Cape Gewone Tortelduif
Wagtail Cape Gewone Kwikkie
Reed-Warbler Great Grootrietsanger
Warbler Knysna Knysnaruigtesanger
Warbler Willow Hofsanger
Waxbill Common Rooibeksysie
Weaver Cape Kaapse Wewer
Weaver Southern Masked Swartkeelgeelvink
Weaver Spectacled Brilwewer
Weaver Village Bontrugwewer
Whimbrel Common Kleinwulp
White-eye Cape Kaapse Glasogie
Whydah Pin-tailed Koninggrootbekkie
Widowbird Long-tailed Langstertflap
Wood-Dove Emerald-spotted Groenvlekduifie
Woodhoopoe Green Rooibekkakelaar
Woodpecker Cardinal Kardinaalspeg
Woodpecker Knysna Knysnaspeg
Woodpecker Olive Gryskopspeg

Out of range birds seen in this area
Frigatebird Lesser
Gull Hartlaub’s
Harrier Pallid
Kite Black
Korhaan Southern Black
Mousebird White-backed
Paradise-Whydah Long-tailed
Penguin Rockhopper
Penguin King
Penguin Macaroni
Plover American Golden Amerikaanse Goue Strandkiewiet
Plover Pacific Golden Asiatiese Goue Strandkiewiet
Prion Slender-billed
Stork Black
Stork Yellow-billed
Swan Mute
Tern Gull-billed
Tern Lesser Crested
Tropicbird Redtailed