Fill your birding needs: Private reserves you could visit
If you’re a birder in or close to the Overberg, you’ve likely visited one of our wonderful nature reserves, such as De Hoop, De Mond and Bontebok National Park. Birders could, however, be missing out by not visiting some of the private reserves.
These reserves may not be as well known, but they’re sure to serve as a wonderful weekend get-away (even if you live in the Overberg).
They could also dish up a wide array of bird life, including some of the more rare and unusual species.
The OCG has checked in with just four of these reserves to highlight some of their special species. But there are many more private reserves, and many more bird species to track down. So your own Google search could provide a diverse selection to fill your birding needs.
Top image: Cape Sugarbird. Middle right image: Oxalis Cottage at Philipskop. Bottom right: Fledgling Barn Owl. Photos: Philipskop Mountain Reserve.
Melozhori Private Game Reserve
Melozhori Private Game Reserve offers birders a number of rare species to find and identify – thanks to the many different vegetation types that occur here. This private game reserve is situated close to Stormsvlei in the Overberg. Here you’ll find valleys covered in indigenous Acacia and wild olive, Karoo-landscapes with vygies and Kraalbos, and Fynbos-covered mountains.
These provide a home to 138 bird species – including specials such as the Emerald spotted dove, Cape vulture, Black harrier and a breeding pair of Verraux’s eagles. The team manages the habitat in such a way as to provide a home to birds and animals (not least supported by Melozhori owner, Ismail Bhorat, who is also a BirdLife SA director). And tourists can enjoy these while staying over in the Melozhori Main Lodge, eco-friendly pods or their self-catering cottage. Images: Melozhori Private Game Reserve.
more info on Melozhori Private Game Reserve
Phillipskop Mountain Reserve
This reserve is home to untouched fynbos-covered mountains and valleys, which you can enjoy from any of the five chalet-style self-catering cottages, or during a day trip to the reserve. As a result, birders are able to see five of the six fynbos endemic species, namely: Orange-breasted sunbird, Cape sugarbird, Victorin’s warbler, Cape siskin and Cape rockjumper.
In fact, the reserve has recorded 117 bird species in total. Hikers are likely to find the breeding pair of Verraux’s eagle that have nested on the rock ledges, and a pair of Black harriers that have nested on the mountain slopes and are often seen swooping low over the fynbos as they hunt. Other species include the Neddicky, Fiery-necked nightjars, African black duck and you can often hear the Fish eagle calling from the Klein River below the chalets. Images: Phillipskop Mountain Reserve.
more info on Phillipskop Mountain Reserve
DoornbosCh Game Lodge & Guest Houses
This game lodge is found between the towns of Elim and Pearly Beach. It’s 5000 hectares of fynbos, some forests and pastures. And you can adventure through the natural area on foot, your mountain bike, horseback or via organised game drives.
Birders can enjoy relaxed Fish eagles that stay beside the dam, Secretarybirds, Blue cranes and Denham’s Bustards in the natural areas, and a wide array of owl species. Not to mention seasonal birds, including buzzards, storks and swallows. Then there are smaller species such as Capped wheatear, Bokmakierie, weavers and much more. These can all be experienced from any one of the five guest houses available to visitors. Images: Doornbosch.
more info on DoornbosCh Game Lodge & Guest Houses
This lodge is situated at the foot of the Langeberg Mountain outside Swellendam – and from here you have easy access to the Marloth Nature Reserve, a CapeNature reserve. There are a number of special bird species that call Gaikou and surrounds their home.
This includes the Fish eagle, Wood owl, Red winged francolin, Tambourine Dove and the Cape vulture. Also look out for four different species of Woodpecker, and the Narina Trogon. You can get closer to these species on some of the day trails starting at Marloth, or via their other outdoor activities, such as horse riding. There’s also a river trail on Gaikou’s property itself, where birders could also see a number of the special species of the Overberg. Then after a day of birding, head back to your family villa or luxury room in the lodge. Images: Gaikou Lodge and LoveGreen Communications.