The Danger Point Peninsula is rapidly developing a reputation as one of the prime birding destinations along the Cape Whale Coast.
The clearly signposted turn-off to the peninsula is reached between Gansbaai and Kleinbaai at the intersection at the African Penguin and Seabirds Sanctuary (APPS). See the detailed description of this world-class rehabilitation centre in the feature on Dyer Island. This coastal road between Kleinbaai and the Danger Point lighthouse gives access to resident coastal birds, migratory terns and waders during summer months and a diversity of terrestrial species in the coastal brush and Fynbos. This is probably one of the best areas along the Cape Whale Coast to find such a diversity of species associated with these habitat types along a very short drive – slow birding is advised.
Resident coastal birds such as the Cape Cormorant, Hartlaub’s and Kelp Gulls, White-fronted Plover and Swift Tern are seen commonly. The Bank and Crowned Cormorants and Kittlitz’s Plover are only present occasionally. The Giant and Pied Kingfishers are also of interest. The African Oystercatcher breeds along sections of the sandy shore and often right next to the road. Such a pity that despite signs erected by BirdLife Overberg and the Overstrand municipality to request people to stay clear of the nests, there are local people regularly gathering bait close to some of these nests – we still have a long way to go as far as environmental education is concerned.
In summer expect to find migratory waders such as Common Greenshank, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Whimbrel and several sandpipers. This spot is however best known for the vast numbers of terns that occur during this time of year. The Swift Tern is resident throughout the year, but vast numbers of migratory Common and Sandwich are often present. These birds regularly adorn the rocks in day roosts to rest and preen. This is a spectacle not to be missed as literally thousands of birds take to the skies in mixed flocks, only to settle back again. The Arctic Tern adds to the excitement seasonally and the Roseate Tern may be located on odd occasions. This road is however regarded as the best spot in the region to find the Antarctic Tern, a winter migrant that visits our shores between April and September. The Antarctic Terns in their dark grey breeding plumage (towards September) with black caps, prominent white cheek-stripe and robust coral red bills and legs are stunning birds and very popular with the birding fraternity.
Danger Point represents one of the many sites along the Cape Whale Coast shoreline where the adverse impact of plastics, fishing line and other pollutants on our environment in general and our coastal birds in particular often seem obvious. Birds are regularly severely injured through entanglement with various forms of ocean litter and the negative visual impact of the litter could have detrimental impacts on tourism to the region. The members of BirdLife Overberg recently launched the CleanMarine campaign that features various projects such as regular monthly coastal clean-ups, the erection of bins to collect discarded fishing line and warning placards to inform the public about the presence of African Oystercatchers and White-fronted Plovers breeding, or raising their chicks along our beaches and rocky shores.
Please report all injured or oiled coastal birds and animals to the Cape Whale Coast stranding network at 072 598 7117 immediately. This dedicated service is provided by the African Penguin and Seabirds Sanctuary (APSS) of the Dyer Island Conservation Trust in Kleinbaai.
The Fynbos-dominated vegetation along this coastal road host many great terrestrial species, of which the Southern Tchagra is maybe the most sought-after. This is a very popular area to look for this somewhat elusive bird and knowing its call always helps. Other special endemic species such as the Cape Grassbird, Cape Spurfowl, Cape Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird are also fairly common. Other endemic birds that occur abundantly are the Cape Bulbul, Fiscal Flycatcher, Karoo Prinia, Southern Double-collared Sunbird, Cape Weaver and Cape White-eye. Other common species include the Bokmakierie, Cape Canary, Cape Robin-Chat, Streaky-headed Seedeater and Olive Thrush. Birds of prey that are regularly on view are the Jackal Buzzard, Rock Kestrel and Black-winged Kite, with the Common Buzzard and Yellow-billed Kite being common during summer months.
The Danger Point Peninsula is undoubtedly one of the most underrated bird-watching destinations of the region, particularly given the huge diversity of species found in such a small area.