Owing to the fact that Knysna is such a fusion of diverse natural habitats, a wide variety of birds call Knysna home, making it a genuine birding hotspot. The Knysna estuary and the big blue ocean it meets sustain many beautiful bird species. So, if you have a penchant for our winged creatures and your prized possession is a ticked and tattered copy of a Roberts Birds of Southern Africa, then one of our Marine Eco Tours should certainly be one adventure to tick off on your birding bucket list.
Our tours depart daily from the trendy Thesen Harbour Town jetty and our vessels pass various spots along the lagoon where large numbers of birds congregate. The estuary’s thriving salt marshes and intertidal mud banks are a smorgasbord of critters that lure many wading birds such as sandpipers, stints, sacred ibis, herons, purple gallinules, spoonbills. Another species that is wonderful to see is the African black oystercatcher, which despite its name, doesn’t eat oysters at all but rather mussels and limpets. This is the second most endangered coastal bird in the country but statistics show that conservation efforts are paying off and their numbers are on the increase, so it is always heartening to see them.
On the western bank of the estuary very often the feathered fishing pros – the various kingfisher species – can be seen in action. Also spotted often is lovely Knysna loerie and Knysna warbler, which spend time in the coastal undergrowth found rising up from this iconic estuary.
Every day on our trips a wide variety of sea birds can be seen flying overhead or perched on sandstone outcrops of the Knysna heads such as gulls, herons, terns and the various cormorant species. And once out in the big blue other fascinating species are encountered. And when there is lots of shoal fish in our waters the sky is literally peppered with hundreds of beautiful species like dive bombing gannets.
Aside from having the opportunity to see many endemic species on these trips, we also get to see several migratory birds, which, much like the people we call ‘swallows’, spend much of the year chasing summer.
Pelagic birds are so remarkably adapted to the dynamic conditions of the sea. One our Marine Eco-tours, there is the occasion to sometimes see albatrosses, shearwaters, petrels and even the feisty Sub Antarctic skua.
Whilst the focus of our tours centres on the marine mammals seen in our waters, such as whales, dolphins and seals, the trip will delight many a ‘twitcher’ out there.