Due to it’s altitude of around 2,000 metres, Dullstroom enjoys a unique birding environment. It is a prime spot for grassland birding – and although it lacks a great diversity of species, this is more than made up for by the presence of some local specials, indicated below, and by the ease with which grassland endemics are observed.
Specials: Ground Woodpecker, Sentinel Rock-Thrush,
Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Southern Bald Ibis, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Wattled and Blue Cranes, Red-chested and
White-winged Flufftails, Denham’s Bustard, Pale-crowned Cisticola, Black-winged Lapwing, Cape Eagle-Owl,
Yellow-breasted Pipit and Buff-streaked Chat.

Best Season: September to January

Birding: A great place to start birding is around the wetlands, municipal dams and campsite adjacent to town – turn left off the R540, pass the Dullstroom Inn, and follow the signs northward of town. Explore the marshy areas around the dams for African Rail, Red-chested Flufftail, Dark-capped Yellow Warbler and Yellow Bishop. From the camp site a steep footpath up to the rocky outcrops above the dam – a well-known haunt of the Cape Eagle-Owl. While in the area of the dam, you may also bump into Red-winged Francolin, Mountain Wheatear, Long-billed Pipit, Cape Grassbird, Wailing Cisticola and Cape Bunting.

For those who wish to venture out of town for birding drives, there are a couple of excellent birding loops that take in
different habitats:

  •  Upland sponges and adjacent grasslands – Wattled Crane, Grey-crowned Crane, Denham’s Bustard, Southern Bald Ibis, Secretarybird, Yellow-breasted Pipit, Pale-crowned and Wing-snapping Cisticola, Grey-winged Francolin, Black-winged Lapwing and Eastern Long-billed Lark
  • Rocky outcrops – Sentinel Rock-Thrush, Buff-streaked Chat, Mountain Wheatear, Long-billed Pipit and Ground Woodpecker
  • Protea stands – Gurney’s Sugarbird and Malachite Sunbird
  • And always be alert for arial hunters over the grasslands – Rufous-chested Sparrowhawk, Jackal Buzzard, Long-crested Eagle and Rock Kestrel

There are several good birding loops both north and south of Dullstroom, all offering great birding potential, but some
requiring high-ride vehicles.
Escarpment Bird Club – formed recently, not only as a birding club, but as a BirdLife SA appointed conservation steward of birding environments, we would be happy to offer membership or birding advise to any Dullstroom visitor.
Please contact George Skinner (Chairman) for further information [email protected] or 082 600 5962.

A full checklist for Dullstroom and surrounds is available at Zest Offices in the Cherry Grove complex.

Article by Alan Hatton. First appeared in the “Discover Dullstroom” –  Issue 39 – May 2016

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