Birding Areas

Birding Areas

Birding Areas
Polokwane
(area A)
North-eastern Escarpment
(area B)
Tzaneen
(area C)
The Lowveld
(area D)

Polokwane

Area A
This is the most westerly region of the CLBR that extends from Polokwane to the Wolkberg and Northern Drakensberg mountain Ranges. The area has an average altitude of 1300 masl and is the driest area of the birding route. The habitat is characterised by open savannah with scattered Acacia and broadleaved trees and includes the Polokwane Plateau Bushveld and Mamabolo Bushveld vegetation types. Granite outcrops and riverine thickets provide diversity in the vegetation and bird species in this area. The unique bird species to look out for, amongst almost 350 species in this area, include Short-clawed Lark, Northern Black Korhaan, Kalahari Scrub-Robin and Black-cheeked Waxbill. The dams and associated wetlands here, attract a wide variety of waterfowl and shore birds and regularly produce rarities like Pectoral Sandpiper or Western Marsh-Harrier.

North-eastern Escarpment

Area B
This is the route's mountainous area and is made up by the Wolkberg and Northern Drakensberg mountain ranges, where the altitude reaches 2300 masl. The high annual rainfall of the area results in lush afromontane forest and rolling montane grassland habitats. Unfortunately most of the grasslands have been lost to commercial forestation, but patches of this unique habitat and its diverse inhabitants still occur around Haenertsburg and in the Wolkberg Wilderness Area. These grasslands support a small population of Blue Swallow, as well as, Gurney's Sugarbirds, Malachite Sunbirds, Broad-tailed Warbler, Redwinged Francolin and Striped Flufftail. The afromontane forests are amongst the most extensive and beautiful in the country, with the Woodbush, Grootbosch, Swartbosch and Black Forest forming an interconnected band of pristine habitat along the eastern and southern slopes of the escarpment. In these forests, look out for specials like Cape Parrot, Black-fronted Bush-Shrike, Yellow-streaked Greenbul and African Crowned Eagle.

Tzaneen

Area C
This area encompasses the lower reaches of the Wolkberg and Northern Drakensberg mountain ranges and the hot sub-tropical regions around the Tzaneen Dam. The altitude in this area ranges from 900masl to about 650masl, with the habitat changing from afromontane to semi-deciduous forest and lush tropical vegetation. Various rivers that originate in the escarpment flow into the Tzaneen dam, the largest body of water on the route, with the Letaba River being the most dominant and flowing out of the dam through the area. This area is alive with birds; watch out for Purple-crested Turaco, African Green Pigeon, White-browed Robin-Chat, Broadbilled Roller and Half-collared Kingfisher. This area also has the highest concentration of confirmed Bat Hawk breeding sites in the country, with four nests. In this transition zone, between the afromontane and the true lowveld bushveld, birders have a chance of finding all sorts of surprise birds. Historical recordings of Blue-throated Sunbird and Blue-spotted Wood Dove exist for this area.

The Lowveld

Area D
This is the most easternly section of the CLBR with an altitude of less than 650masl. In this area, with its Mopani woodland and sour bushveld, there is a host of birds not found anywhere else on the route. Special birds like Arnot's Chat, White-breasted Cuckooshrike, Thick-billed Cuckoo and Stierling's Wren-Warbler can be found here. More common species like Greater Blue-eared Starling, Woodland Kingfisher and White-crested Helmet Shrike will also only be found in this area of the CLBR. The Proximity to the larger conservation areas of the lowveld also makes this area good for the larger birds like raptors and storks. White-headed and Hooded Vulture and Bateleur Eagle are examples of the birds that you should continuously be scanning the sky for. The riverine areas along the Letaba River act as a conduit, drawing birds like White-backed Night-Heron, Saddle-billed Stork and African Openbill Stork into the area.

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