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Mossel Bay
29th Jan 2023
BirdingCommunity & LivingGeneral knowledgeNature & NurturePhotographyTourism & Travel

BLESBOK ROAD – A LESSER-KNOWN BIRDING DRIVE

With well over 350 species and lots of local endemics, the Garden Route (and neighbouring Klein Karoo) is fast becoming a famous birding destination. Despite the well-known bird-watching spots like the Woodville Big Tree, the Brown-hooded Kingfisher Trail and the Rondevlei Bird Hide, there are many other lesser-known birding spots that can be equally rewarding and exciting to explore.

The Blesbok Road Birding Drive

This drive explores an area of Renosterveld and open pastureland that forms part of the catchment for the Hartenbosrivier. Start this route at the junction of the R102 and the R328 in Hartenbos. Take the R328 from Hartenbos towards Oudtshoorn, and after about 5 km past the junction to the R102 and the R328, turn left onto the gravel road (at the Matjiesdrif sign).

Follow this road for approximately 2.8 km, then, at the fork, turn left onto the Blesbok Road. The birding habitat along this stretch of road is home to some of the most recognizable birds of the Cape Region, including Jackal Buzzard, Grey-winged Francolin, Denham’s Bustard, Blue Crane, Secretarybird, Bokmakierie, Southern Tchagra, Malachite Sunbird and Yellow Canary. Listen for the distinctive calls of the Large-billed Lark as well as the Agulhas Long-billed Larks. Also listen for the subtle call of Quailfinches. Once you hear their calls it is much easier to find them.

The Blesbok Road will lead you slowly down to where you cross over the Hartenbosrivier, just below the Hartebeeskuildam wall. You can park here and follow the path up the little gorge to the dam wall. Be on the lookout for White-necked Raven and Cape Bunting. There is a pool below the dam wall which is often a reliable spot to see African Black Duck. After this short walk, get back on the road and follow the Blesbok Road up to the T-junction where it ends, keeping a lookout for Namaqua Dove, Long-billed Crombec and Karoo Scrub Robin. The total distance of Blesbok Road is about 3 km.

At the T-junction, turn left to head back to Hartenbos. After about 8 km, you will reach the R328. The birding continues to be very good along this stretch of road. In summer, do check the farm dams for breeding colonies of Southern Red Bishop. When you reach the T-junction you can turn right onto the tar road and drive only about 2.8 km back to the junction of the R328 and R102 in Hartenbos where you started.

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