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Although one of the biggest towns on the Garden Route, Knysna is home to an abundant array of birdlife. The birdlife here is rich and varied, with indigenous yellowwood forests, vast stretches of coastline, and calm estuaries. It’s also easily accessible, meaning it’s the perfect place for beginner birders and more experienced twitchers alike.

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Cape Sugarbird ©C Klopper

In fact, during your stay at Alkira Lodge, a short stroll around the property will offer a variety of birding opportunities. Our resident bird guide Tim Carr has years of experience working as a guide at some of the best game reserves in the country, and his birding knowledge in the Garden Route is wide-ranging. He can offer you a short guided walk around Alkira’s indigenous fynbos to introduce your family to some of the birds in the area, or custom make an itinerary, taking you out for the day to some of the area’s top birding sites which also happen to be beautiful for sightseeing, as you try to tick those lifers off your list. 

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Shy Albatross ©Albert McLean

What makes birding in Knysna so special?

The greater Knysna area is accessible for many of South Africa’s endemic birds, but did you know it is the only town in South Africa after which three endemic species are named? This includes the Knysna Warbler, Knysna Turaco, and Knysna Woodpecker.

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Knysna Woodpecker ©Tim Carr

When most people think of birding in this area, they naturally think of the gorgeous forest walks. Of course, the forest birding is what draws many visitors to the area with chances to see the Narina Trogon, Grey Cuckooshrike, Yellow-Throated Woodland Warbler, and Lemon Dove, to name a few. However, the absolute joy of Knysna is that it offers a variety of different birding opportunities in one area.

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Chorister Robin Chat ©C Klopper

The Woodbourne Marsh, one of Tim’s favourite birding areas, is located just down the road from Beacon House and 11 Horizon Views.

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Waterbirds in the Knysna estuary ©James Tyrell

The marsh is home to many wetland bird species like the Giant Kingfisher, Grey Heron, White-Breasted Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Yellow-Billed Duck, Red-Knobbed Coot, and more. 

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Grey Heron ©Delle Henry

Then, if you decide to venture out to sea, you may expect fantastic pelagic birding with sightings of Sooty Shearwaters, Terns, Shy, Black-browed, and Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Giant Petrels, Wilson’s and European Storm Petrels, and hundreds of White-chinned Petrels.

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Shy Albatross ©Albert McLean

Birding in the Garden Route

Another great thing about Knysna is that it is central to many other accessible areas as day drives. The Swartberg pass can offer up mountain specials such as Rockjumpers, the Sentinel Rock Thrush, Protea Canary, Cape Siskin, as well as the Sugarbird and Orange-breasted Sunbird. 

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Protea Canary ©C Klopper

At Mossel Bay, less than an hour from Knysna, there is fantastic dry land birding with Agulhas Long-billed Lark, Southern Black Korhaan, Cape Clapper Lark, and Southern Tchagra, all frequently sighted. Then inland towards Oudtshoorn is the Little Karoo with all its special birds, including Yellow-bellied Eremomela, Cape Penduline Tit, Karoo Lark, and Rufous-eared Warbler.

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Victorin's Warbler ©C Klopper

As you can see, the options for birding are endless. So whether you’re an experienced birder looking for new experiences or a beginner looking for an introduction to birding, be sure to visit Knysna. Our team at Alkira Lodge and Beautiful Knysna Villas will work together with Tim to customise a birding experience that suits your needs.

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White Starred Robin ©C Klopper