Birding in Cape Town: Strandfontein Sewage Works
Arguably the best birding spot in Cape Town, Strandfontein Sewage Works is a must-visit site. The focused birder could notch up 100 species in a day, but the relatively small area also lends itself to a quick “whip-around” for the more time-strapped. Located on the north-western edge of False Bay it can be a little tricky to find if you’re not familiar with the area. The map below gives you a basic idea of how to get there.
The network of roads around the sewage works can be a litte confusing so I’ve highlighted the route that I like to drive. Beware of some of the sand roads that hug Baden Powell Drive in the south. It’s easy to get stuck here and there’s also a Kelp Gull nesting colony that must be avoided.
The birding is sometimes dependent on the water levels – bird numbers can be significantly higher when the levels are low with exposed mud and roosting islands. I didn’t explore every pan, but there didn’t appear to be too much exposed mud around. Pan S3, which is completely overgrown with hyacinth, does have a small exposed area (see bottom right photo) at the moment where there was a collection of waterfowl and Great White Pelicans. My favourite shot for the evening was this African Marsh Harrier – it’s not the best of images, but the sea in the background with the pan and reedbed is so distinctly Strandfontein.
The highlight of the visit was certainly the 8 African Openbills that were feeding along the Zeekoevlei entrance road , but a close second was watching a Purple Heron swallow a large Vlei rat.
Non-birders find it hard to believe that there are flamingoes in Cape Town, but Strandfontein is a very reliable spot for Greater Flamingo and although rare, Lessers have been recorded as well.
Pied Crow, Red-winged Starling, African Openbill, Fan-tailed Cisticola, White-breasted Cormorant, Black-headed Heron, Barn Swallow, White-throated Swallow, Speckled Pigeon, Cape Teal, Red-billed Teal, Cape Shovellor, Little Grebe, Blacksmith Plover, Great White Pelican, Purple Heron, Kelp Gull, Hartlaub’s Gull, African Darter, Swift Tern, Great Flamingo, African Marsh Harrier, Spur-winged Goose, Cattle Egret, Common Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coot, Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt, Grey Heron, Cape Wagtail, Cape Robin Chat, Common Starling, Yellow-billed Duck, Purple Swamphen, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Little Rush Warbler, Lesser Swamp Warbler, Cape Francolin, Helmeted Guineafowl, Cape Bulbul, Reed Cormorant.