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The 480 ha Island Forest Nature Reserve near Seaview is one of the few areas of accessible indigenous coastal forest close to Port Elizabeth and is the best place in the area to see many of the forest specials. It is good for a quick visit (around the picnic site) or for a few hours walk, 2-3 hours should provide 40 of the 110 regularly occurring species.



Forest specials include Forest Buzzard, Lemon Dove, Knysna Turaco (common), African Wood-Owl, Terrestrial Brownbul, Chorister Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin, Brown Scrub-Robin, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Olive Bush-Shrike, Black-bellied Starling, Grey Sunbird, Dark-backed Weaver, Swee Waxbill and Forest Canary.



The majority of the area is Alexandria type coastal dune forest with scrub areas of re-generating forest and park-like habitat at the picnic site.



There is a picnic site with ablutions and a bird bath that is a magnet for the birds. The 16 km Bushbuck Trail traverses the area but is frequently overgrown and poorly marked away from the picnic site – several paths lead into the forest from the picnic site and there are several forestry tracks. A map is available.



1. Many of the species can be seen around the picnic area, well planted with specimen trees, where the more open habitat makes location of the birds much easier. The bird bath, donated and maintained by Birdlife eastern cape, can provide excellent views of many forest specials, including Lemon Dove, Knysna Turaco, bulbuls, robins, apalises, Swee Waxbill and Forest Canary. African Paradise-Flycatcher, Black-headed Oriole, Olive Woodpecker and Black-bellied Starling occupy the picnic area while the forest edges should reveal Cape Batis, Terrestrial Brownbul, and with luck, Brown Scrub-Robin. A Forest Buzzard may fly over at any time.

2. Next to the gatehouse, a (steep) path leads down into a valley and provides a 1 km walk back to the picnic site. Although birding in the forest is difficult, Brown Scrub-Robin, Chorister Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin and Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher may be seen and the Green-backed Camaroptera is always heard but is difficult to locate. Search bird parties for Collared Sunbird, Olive Bush-Shrike, Yellow-breasted Apalis and Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler.

3. At the far end of the picnic site, a track passes through an area of forest (look for species mentioned in 2.) to an area of more open ground where Lazy Cisticola can often be seen. Re-tracing your steps, take the underpass under the road (Lesser Striped Swallow nest here in summer), then turn left. This will lead you to the main portion of the Bushbuck Trail. You can do a short circular walk back to the entrance by keeping on the track running along the edge of the forest.



From Port Elizabeth take the N2 to Cape Town and take the Seaview off ramp. Approximately 2 km after the crossroads at Colleen Glen and 5 km from the N2, the reserve is signposted on the left (on a bend). A good return route to Port Elizabeth is to carry on to Seaview and bird the rocky shores and grassland on the way back. At weekends and during busy periods a small entrance fee is payable. Ticks can be prevalent on occasions. Information may be obtained from the Warden, tel: +27 41 378 1634 or the Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism Tel. +27 41 581 7540 / +27 41 582 2575 Fax: +27 41 581 7544 / +27 41 582 2573 email:, Nelson Mandela Bay Tourism . Bird & Eco-Tours tel. +27 41 466 5698 offers a tour/guiding/ free information service in the Port Elizabeth area.

Paul Martin 2002.
Bird & Eco-Tours, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
, Tel: +27 41 466 5698

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