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Wavecrest is situated, 160km north of east London, along the spectacular Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape Province and is a true birdwatchers paradise. It is placed at a crystal clear lagoon, fed by two mangrove-lined rivers which weave through pristine forest where over 300 bird species may be recorded. A rich variety of ecosystems support the large number of birds present in the area. The estuary at the mouth of the Nxaxo river and the Nxusi river forms the epicentre of birding in the area. The Wavecrest Hotel and holiday resort is situated on the southern banks of the estuary and is the ideal point of departure for all birdwatching activities in the area.

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Specials

Grey Crowned Crane, Sanderling, Grey Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, Common Whimbrel, Swift Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Arctic Tern, African Fish-Eagle, Spotted Ground-Thrush, Narina Trogon, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Crowned Hornbill, Trumpeter Hornbill, Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Knysna Woodpecker, Dark-backed Weaver, Mountain Wagtail, Black-winged Lapwing, Cape Longclaw, Yellow-throated Longclaw, South African Cliff-Swallow, Black Saw-wing and Banded Martin.

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Habitats

Habitat types range from the open ocean, rocky and sandy shores, estuarine mudflats, mangrove swamp forest, dune forest, mixed coastal woodland and coastal grassland.

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Birding

1. The major draw card to Wavecrest must be resident Grey Crowned Crane which come to roost on an island in the estuary every evening. At times as many as 90 individuals joyfully display and "dance" on the beach in the late afternoon. It is a truly memorable experience to watch this flock of Grey Crowned Crane gracefully flying in and slowly descending to land on the beach in front of you.

2. To see a wide variety of the birds in the area a boat journey at high tide up the Nxaxo or Nxusi rivers is highly recommended. Scan the estuarine mudflats upon departing for wader species such as Sanderling, Grey Plover, Ruddy Turnstone, and Common Whimbrel. Large flocks of terns often roost on the banks closer to the mouth and Swift Tern, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern and Arctic Tern are often recorded. The resident pair of African Fish-Eagle is a regular site and their loud calls often echo across the lagoon. This mangrove-fringed estuary is one of the southernmost of its kind found along the South African coastline. Of the seven species of kingfisher found in the area the most sought after and spectacular must be the Mangrove Kingfisher. Mangrove Kingfisher are abundant during summer when they migrate south along the coast to breed. Familiarise yourself with their call and be on the lookout for them all along both of the rivers.

3. The dunes adjacent to the Nxaxo river is covered in dense indigenous dune forest which contains secretive forest species such as Spotted Ground-Thrush, Narina Trogon and Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher. Crowned Hornbill and Trumpeter Hornbill are often seen flapping overhead, the latter breed along the Nxaxo river. Dune forest also occurs to the south of Wavecrest in the direction of the Kobonqaba River. As with most forest species the Red-fronted Tinkerbird, Knysna Woodpecker and Dark-backed Weaver are more often heard than seen. African Goshawk often fly overhead and can be identified by their characteristic click-click call while soaring. Mountain Wagtail have been recorded along the gorge of the Nxaxo river.

4. The Grasslands adjacent to the forest patches are characteristic of the inland areas adjacent to the Wild Coast and host a completely different set of species. Black-winged Lapwing are common and have bred on the airfield near to the hotel. Both Cape Longclaw and Yellow-throated Longclaw also occur on these grasslands. Many species of swifts and swallows hunt over the grasslands and some of the more interesting species include South African Cliff-Swallow, Black Saw-wing and Banded Martin.

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General

To reach the Wavecrest area travel along the N2 towards Umtata and follow the sign posts from Butterworth towards the coast. The road from Butterworth to Centani is now tarred and makes travelling to Wavecrest via Centani far easier. Alternative routes are via the Mazeppa Bay road or via the Kei mouth ferry. Comfortable accommodation is available at the Wavecrest Hotel. Fly in trips from east London can also be arranged through the Hotel. Boat trips up both the rivers and out to sea can be organised. There are various walks into the different habitat types as is indicated on the attached site map. For further information on accommodation please contact the Wavecrest Hotel at tel.: +27 47 498 0022 or visit their web site at www.wavecrest.co.za, e-mail:

Albert Froneman 2001.



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