Bird Watching

Crowned Crane escape route stutterheim biodiversityDue to it’s rich biodiversity Stutterheim is a must destination for bird watchers. Many species can been seen within a relatively short distance of each other due to the fact that the Amahlathi region encompasses 5 different biomes. These biomes are Southern Mistbelt Forest, Amathole Montane and Mistbelt Grassland, Kei and Eastern Cape Escarpment Thicket. Each of theses boasts rare and endemic birds.

The extensive forests on the southern slopes of the Amathole Mountains are home the critically endangered Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus) and birdwatchers are assured of sightings of these rare birds. Other special birds that are at home in the forests include the Knysna Loerie (Tauraco corythaix), the Narina Trogon (Apaloderma narina), the Orange Thrush (Zoothera gurneyi) and the Grey Cuckooshrike (Coracina caesia), to name but a few.

Orange Thrush escape route bird watching

In the mountain wetlands special birds that may be encountered are Buff Streaked Chats (Oenanthe bifasciata), Ground Woodpeckers (Geocolaptes olivaceus) and if very lucky, occasional Striped Flufftails (Sarothrura affinis) may be flushed from the thick grass cover in which they hide.

 


The specialised habitats in the Kei Valley are home to a great variety of birds. Black Eagles (Aquila verreauxii) nest on the cliffs; Giant Eagle Owls (Bubo lacteus) laze away the days on trees in the gorges; Trumpeter Hornbills (Bicanistis bucinator) make their presence known by their lamb-like bleat and at least four species each of Kingfisher and Woodpecker haunt the pools and riverine forests. Pied Wagtails (Motacilla aguimp) run along the sandy river banks; Mocking Chats (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris) gambol on the cliffs.

Sunbird - lesser double-collared female escape route bird watchingThe Moonstone Magic Cycad Trail in the Quanti area will take you to a unique site at the back of Moonstone Hill. From the summit there are magnificent views of the Kei Valley and often one sees Crowned Eagles (Stephanoaetus coronatus) circling the forest below.

There are also many plants, butterflies, moths and small animals that are endemic and rare. Keep a look out for Mountain Reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula), orchids including Brownleea coerulea and disa saggitalis, butterflies including Chrysoritis turneri amatola and Chrysoritis penningtoni, the amatola toad (Bufo amatolicus) and many rare species of cycads (probably the only place in South Africa where three species can be seen together – Encephalartos princeps, Encephalartos frederici and Encephalartos caffer.)