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.

Strandfontein directions1

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.

Strandfontein layout route reduced

I spent an hour birding at Strandfontein on Saturday evening last week and notched up 40 species without too much effort. 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.

African Marsh Harrier

The highlight of the visit was certainly the 8 African Openbills that were feeding along the Zeekoevlei entrance road [read here for details], but a close second was watching a Purple Heron swallow a large Vlei rat [read here for details].

Blacksmith LapwingLittle GrebeCape Gull

Non-birders find it hard to believe me 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.

Great Flamingo

My list for the evening included: 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.

Black-headed HeronCape TealsWhite Pelican Scene

My plan is to slowly update this post with each visit to Strandfontein. Feel free to add notes about recent sightings in the comments section below.

David Winter

1 comment to Birding in Cape Town: Strandfontein Sewage Works

  • Alf Craul

    Hi David,
    I am visiting CT and would like to go birding at Strandfontein Sew’ Works. I am free from Sunday 4th to Wed 7th March 2012. I have the use of a car. Would you kindly advise me if you know of someone who could do some birding with me there. I am 60yrs old and have birded for 22 yrs.

    I look forward to your reply

    Regards

    Alf
    0718932500
    Alfcraul@gmail.com

    PS;I only have my binoculars with me

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