Fisherhaven & the Hawston Sewage Works

Access to the Botriviervlei is unfortunately fairly limited due to private land ownership along its shores. Areas such as the Arabella Golf Estate, the Benguela Cove Estate and the Meer-en-See Estate can only be accessed with special permission. It is advised that local bird-watchers are approached regarding possible access to these hugely underrated birding destinations. The estuary is internationally recognised as the Botrivier and Kleinmond Estuary Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA -SA118).

Keep in mind that the Rooisand Nature Reserve and the bird hide represents the best spot from where birds can be enjoyed.

Five Greater Flamingos fly overhead.
Greater Flamingos (Riaan Jacobs)

The reed beds along the edges of the estuary where access is available support an interesting array of species such as the Black Crake, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Greater Painted Snipe, African Rail, African Snipe and African Swamphen. Warblers include the African Reed Warbler (summer), Little Rush Warbler and Lesser Swamp Warbler. The open waters regularly feature the Pied Avocet, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo (less often), Great Crested Grebe, Great White Pelican and African Spoonbill. Also look for the White-backed Duck, Spur-winged Goose, South African Shelduck and Cape and Red-billed Teals and many more. In summer the mud flats of the estuary attract migratory waders including the Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, Red Knot, Common Ringed Plover, Common, Curlew, Marsh and Terek Sandpipers and Common Whimbrel.

At Fisherhaven bird-watching hiking trails have been developed by the Fisherhaven Rate Payers Association. The trails are marked by poles with white tops: There is a “Birdwatching” sign on Riverside Drive where a path leads to a viewpoint near the Afdaksrivier. A “Hiking trail” sign at the slipway parking area (34°21’20.17”S 19°07’27.35”E) shows the start of the other trail going around Seaway Corner and there is a bench at the viewpoint behind the Yacht Club. The slipway parking area is however the best spot for casual birding. Birding along the trails can be excellent, particularly in the early morning when many waterbirds, waders and terrestrial species are on view. Waterbirds often include the Greater Flamingo, Purple Heron, Great White Pelican and South African Shelduck, together with a selection of terns that can be particularly numerous during summer. This area is very well known for the sighting of grebes with all three the Black-necked, Great Crested and Little Grebes often being seen on an outing. Palearctic migrants can include Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Greenshank, Common Ringed Plover, Common, Curlew and Marsh Sandpipers and Common Whimbrel. The vegetation along the shore should be scanned for the Bokmakierie, Southern Boubou, Cape Bulbul, Karoo Prinia, Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird and Southern Tchagra. Always keep a lookout for the African Fish Eagle and Western Osprey.

A Sombre Greenbul throws a berry upwards before swallowing it.
Sombre Greenbul (Riaan Jacobs)

The Hawston Sewage Works (34°22’35.2″S 19°07’33.1″E) is another hugely underrated birding destination and reporting to the office before the pans are explored is essential. It is advised that this site be visited in groups. Huge numbers of ducks and gulls are often on display, with this site being one of the few in the region where the Grey-headed Gull is often found. The reed beds give cover to secretive species such as the Levaillant’s Cisticola, Black Crake, African Swamphen, Little Rush Warbler and Lesser Swamp Warbler. Large numbers of the Yellow-billed Ducks, Cape Shovellers and Cape Teals are often present. Sightings of the Malachite Kingfisher are sometimes possible. Also be on the lookout for the Namaqua Dove, a species that is still fairly rare in the Overstrand and an exciting species to be found by locals.

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