Birding in Plettenberg Bay

Habitat Diverstity and bird species sightings variety are exceptional

Favorite for birders across South Africa

Plettenberg Bay is a well known and favourite area for bird watching enthusiasts, offering a diverse range of habitats that support a rich variety of bird species. The immediate area has incredible wetlands, forests and nature reserves including some protected areas. The area is quite unique, offering wetlands, rivers, beaches, forests, mountains and grasslands. You will enjoy all af these habitats in a single trip.

Bitou River and Wetlands

The Bitou River and its surrounding wetlands are excellent for spotting waterbirds and waders. Apart from the area being part of the Cape Floristic Kingdom and an incredible valuable ecological resource, it is an incredibly beautiful and diverse heritage site that measures 654 hectares. The Bitou river wetland has been identified as a priority biodiversity area.

The Bitou river is 23km long that links to the Keurbooms estuary which is itself ranked as the 18th most important conservation system in South Africa. Wether you are on foot or in a kayak, you are very likely to spot a host of common species which include African Fish Eagle, Malachite Kingfisher, African Marsh Harrier, and various herons and egrets.

Robberg Nature Reserve

Robberg Nature Reserve offers coastal and cliffside habitats for a host of sea birds. The coastal fynbos also hosts a variety of terrestrial birds like the Cape Bulbul and Southern Double-collared Sunbird. Spotting species such as the African Black Oystercatcher, Cape Cormorant, and White-fronted Plover are commonplace in the reserve. You will also have excellent views from the trails in the reserve if sharks and seals in the waters below.


Images gallery courtesy of Birdlife Plett

Some of the other favourite areas and Habitats to go birding in Plettenberg Bay

Harkerville Forest and Kranshoek

Keurbooms lagoon

Goose Marsh

Farming areas in and around Plett

Tsitsikamma National Park

The Crags

Nature’s Valley

Birds of Eden

Located just outside Plettenberg Bay, Birds of Eden is the world’s largest free-flight aviary and bird sanctuary. It houses over 3,500 birds from around the world, including many local species in a natural forest setting. It is not a “wild” environment but a well managed and much revered haven for these bird species, some of which are protected species.

The list of species is far too long to show here so we have included a bird list for download.

Download Birds of Eden bird list

Birders to the area are very likely to spot the following birds in their natural “wild” habitats.

The African Fish Eagle, known for its distinctive call and striking appearance is often spotted in the area.

The Knysna Turaco is a striking green and red bird commonly found in forested areas.

The Malachite Kingfisher is a small, vibrant blue and orange kingfisher is often seen along water bodies.

The African Black Oystercatcher is a coastal bird with a distinctive black body and bright red beak, often found along rocky shores.

The Southern Double-collared Sunbird is a small, colorful bird frequently seen in fynbos and gardens.

Cape Cormorant a common along the coast, these birds can be seen in large flocks on rocks and in flight over the ocean.

The Pied Kingfisher is often seen hovering over water before diving for fish, this black and white bird is a common sight along rivers and lakes.

Images gallery courtesy of Birdlife Plett

Rare bird sightings in Plettenberg Bay

Levaillant’s Cisticola

White-faced Whistling Duck

White-Backed Duck

African Swamphen

African Jacana

Purple Heron


Southern Giant-Petrel

African pied wagtails

Tips for Bird Watching in Plettenberg Bay

The best Times to start your bird watching in Plettenberg bay are early morning and late afternoon which are generally the best times for bird watching, as birds are most active during these periods. Be sure to always have your binoculars and species guide book or birdwatching app at the ready. There will be local bird field guide to help with identifying species available from Plett tourism. Move quietly and patiently, birds are more likely to reveal themselves in a calm and quiet environment. A camera with a good zoom lens can help capture sightings for later identification so be sure to have a few memory cards to capture as many sightings as possible. Plettenberg Bay offers a rich bird-watching experience, with its diverse habitats and abundant birdlife providing plenty of opportunities for both novice and experienced birders.

Why stay at Emily Moon for your birding adventure

Emily Moon is built along the banks of the Bitou river with each room facing the river with beautiful unobstructed views of the Bitou wetland. Even birders like to stay in bed a little late on occasion and you will be able to get your early morning start right from your balcony while enjoying good hot coffee and room service in your luxury suite all at the same time. Directly from the hotel you have access to the wetland and river which you can walk or hire a canoe to paddle along the beautiful river. Paddling the river provides an unmatched experience to spot the variety of birds in the are. Emily Moon River Lodge is the ideal spot to enjoy the varied habitats and see the maximum number of bird in and around