Birding: the feather in Mossel Bay’s cap
An unusually large variety of natural and man-made habitats makes Mossel Bay a birder’s paradise.
The municipal area – which encompasses more than 2,000 square kilometres of land – includes mountains, plains, and dunes covered with fynbos (Cape macchia vegetation) and small amounts of indigenous forest and plantations. And there are the dams, lakes and rivers, too, and the sea shore and the pelagic (open ocean) environments, of course. Plus farm- and parklands, wetlands, nature reserves, and even the local sewage works (which produces some spectacular sightings) – all of which offer different habitats for upwards of 300 species of birds.
That’s about a third of the total number recorded for the whole of South Africa!
And this is why birding in Mossel Bay is as easy as sitting quietly almost anywhere out-of-doors, and just watching and waiting.
But, of course, you may like to – er - fly a little higher, in which case you could visit the riverside bird hide at Botlierskop (open only to overnight guests), or join qualified rangers on a game-watching safari at Botlierskop, or at the Garden Route Game Lodge, Gondwana Game Reserve, Hartenbos Private Game Lodge, Nyaru Game Reserve, or any of a number of other private reserves. (State-owned reserves in and around Mossel Bay include CapeNature’s Outeniqua Reserve – which protects the Outeniqua Mountains north of the town. This Reserve is one of BirdLife South Africa’s declared Important Birding Areas – IBAs.)
Species range from raptors (long-crested-, black-, African fish eagle, etc.) to waders like the lesser flamingo (in season), herons, African spoonbills, and shoebills. And from the passerines (including the incredibly elusive Knysna warbler) to the shore birds (African black oystercatcher) and even – if you’re very, very lucky – occasional pelagics (ask the local shark cage diving company or the deep sea fishing charter operators: they see the pelagic species quite regularly).