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This coastal forest contains classic Afromontane forest trees such as yellow-woods, growing alongside milkwood and coral trees on sandy soils. It now forms part of the greater Addo National Park. More than 150 species of birds have been recorded in the forest and adjoining habitats, including the beach. A bird list of 50-60 species for a day’s walk is not uncommon in this area.

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Specials

In summer African Emerald Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo, Red-chested Cuckoo, Klaas's Cuckoo and Diderick Cuckoo are often heard almost anywhere in the forest. Nocturnal birds such as African Wood-Owl, Spotted Eagle-Owl and Buff-spotted Flufftail are common.

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Birding

Most of the coastal forest birds for this region can be found here, such as African Crowned Eagle, Forest Buzzard, Trumpeter Hornbill, Narina Trogon, Knysna Turaco, African Olive-Pigeon, Lemon Dove, Scaly-throated Honeyguide, Olive Woodpecker, Grey Cuckooshrike, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Knysna Warbler, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Cape Batis, Crested Francolin, Chorister Robin-Chat, Brown Scrub-Robin, Olive Bush-Shrike, Dark-backed Weaver, Forest Canary, and at times Black-bellied Starling. Buff-spotted Flufftail and African Wood-Owl may be heard at night. African Emerald Cuckoo is a summer breeding migrant along with the Red-chested Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo and Diderik Cuckoo, whereas some Klaas's Cuckoo are resident and may call on warm days in mid-winter. Other species from the inland forests such as White-starred Robin and Barratt's Warbler are usually winter visitors. In spring the huge Erythrina trees provide a spectacular display, and many birds feed at their flowers.

1. Good birding around the forest station is guaranteed and the Erythrina trees need to be scanned for sunbirds, Southern Black Flycatcher and Green Wood-Hoopoe. Long-crested Eagle also favour the forest fringes and former plantation areas.

2. The recommended and marked trail starts near the office and is a 7-km circular route. The picnic site with water, toilets and a braai area is about 1 km along this trail. The birds of this forest are quite visible and species such as Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-breasted Apalis, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Trumpeter Hornbill, Dark-backed Weaver, Cape Batis, Grey Cuckooshrike, Forest Canary, Lesser Honeyguide, Knysna Turaco, Chorister Robin-Chat and Brown Scrub-Robin can be seen along this trail.

3. There are other trails and forest patches along the dirt road. Confirmation as to accessibility will need to be obtained at the station, however it is worth driving and stopping along the main dirt road through the forest to look for the forest specials, Martial Eagle, Narina Trogon and the resident African Crowned Eagle.

4. A 2-day hiking trail traverses the forest and adjacent Alexandria dune fields. On the shoreline, African Black Oystercatcher is regular, and Bird Island (site of one of the world's largest gannet colonies) is visible offshore, so that Cape Gannet often fly past.

5. During summer, the rare endemic Damara Tern and migrant Peregrine Falcon (siberian race) can be encountered in the dunefield.

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General

Alexandria, the nearest town, is 100 km east of Port Elizabeth and 50 km west of Port Alfred on the main road between Port Elizabeth and east London. The turn-off to the reserve is on the main road just outside the town (Port Elizabeth side) and is well signposted (Alexandria Hiking Trail/State forest). The office and forest walks are on the right hand side of the dirt road 9-km from the turn-off.

The Alexandria Reserve Manager telephone 046 6530601 can be contacted for permits to walk in the reserve, a birdlist and information on hikes and other trails. The dirt road through the forest is public. Office hours are Monday to Friday, 08h00 to 13h00, and arrangements should be made in advance for weekend walks. Chalet accommodation is available in the park, and the entry fee is at standard National Park rates.

The public road through the forest passes into a farming region along the coast, finally returning to a tarred road at Boknes.

Eastern Cape Parks Website

Adrian Craig 2007
Justin Watson 1998




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