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This 450 hectare reserve lies 40 km from Port Elizabeth on the N2 to Cape Town. It is the best place near Port Elizabeth to see lowland fynbos with flowering Proteas and associated fynbos endemics. The rocky gorge is good for raptors and there is indigenous coastal forest in the gorge. Allow a morning's birding to cover all habitats, when you can expect to see 60 of the 170 regularly occurring species.

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Specials

Fynbos endemics, especially Cape Sugarbird and Cape Bulbul. Orange-breasted Sunbird, Cape Siskin, Victorin's Warbler and Cape Siskin are visitors, especially in winter when they descend from the mountains. In the gorge Forest Buzzard, Jackal Buzzard and Half-collared Kingfisher. In the forest Knysna Turaco, Forest Canary, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher and in spring Narina Trogon and Knysna Warbler are sometimes heard.

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Habitats

The plateau is covered with fynbos and cultivated proteas. Down towards the van Staden's River is a rocky gorge with a tract of indigenous coastal forest.

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Facilities

There is a flower house and ablutions near the entrance. On the plateau are picnic areas linked by a road and numerous paths and tracks. There are two walking trails.

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Birding

1. There are usually a variety of garden birds and sunbirds around the office complex. Cross over the N2, look for an area of flowering proteas, park and walk anywhere on the extensive system of roads and paths that cover the area. Proteas, ericas and leucadendrons dominate. Cape Sugarbird are present throughout the year, other fynbos endemics such as Orange-breasted Sunbird and Cape Siskin are more likely in winter but may be seen all year. Look for Red-necked Spurfowl, Black Cuckooshrike, Cape Grassbird, Bar-throated Apalis and Yellow-breasted Apalis and up to six sunbird and six canary species. Watch out for swallows, swifts and martins overhead.

2. The westernmost picnic site overlooks the gorge, home to a variety of raptors and there is a good view of the Van Staden's Bridge. Raptors, include Booted Eagle (summer), African Crowned Eagle, African Fish-Eagle, Forest Buzzard, African Harrier-Hawk, Black Sparrowhawk, Peregrine Falcon and Lanner Falcon.

3. Take the forest Walk starting next to the office complex down into the indigenous forest (rough and steep in places), where you will find Terrestrial Brownbul, Sombre Greenbul, Cape Robin-Chat and (with luck) White-starred Robin, Tambourine Dove, Lemon Dove, Crowned Hornbill, Olive Thrush, Knysna Turaco, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher and African Paradise-Flycatcher (in summer). The elusive Narina Trogon may be heard hooting in the summer months and a Knysna Warbler is sometimes heard. The Forest Canary distinctive song is a feature of the forest (2-3 hrs).

4. If short of time many of the forest species can be seen from the road and around the picnic sites on the Old Van Stadens Pass road at the bottom of the gorge below the N2 bridge. There are Half-collared Kingfisher on the river.

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General

Van Staden's Wild Flower Reserve is situated about 40km west of Port Elizabeth, on the old cape Road (R102). Take the N2 out of the city towards Cape Town. After 40km turn left off the N2 to Van Staden's Pass. The entrance to the Flower Reserve is on the right less than a kilometre from the N2. The gates open at 07h00 during the week, 08h00 at weekends and Public Holidays and close at 18h00 in summer and 17h00 in winter (1 May – 31 August). There is no entry fee. An information leaflet is available. For further information contact the Reserve Manager tel. +27 41 956 0155 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 offers a tour/guiding/free information service in the Port Elizabeth area tel. +27 41 466 5698.

Libby McGill 2001.



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