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New bird hide at Rooisand Nature Reserve - bordering Arabella Spa near Betty's Bay

27/5/10: Marje Hemp, Birding Africa's Cape birding specialist, attended the inauguration of the new bird hide and board walk. She excitedly reports back about constructing with alien timber, watching Osprey and visiting the Biodiversity Festival. To book a guided day trip to Rooisand, please email or phone 021 531 9148.

Osprey seen from Rooisand Nature Reserve © Jonathan Hemp
On Friday 28 May 2010, Birding Africa attended the launch of the new bird hide and a 400m wheelchair-friendly board walk at Rooisand Nature Reserve. Alien timber cleared from nearby reserves was used, and people from nearby informal settlements were trained and employed to construct this birding site. Funded by the Arabella group, the hide was designed by architect Vernon Head, Chairman of the Cape Bird Club and Vice Chairman of Birdlife South Africa. The Arabella Starwood Hotel is the first five-star hotel in South africa to be granted birder-friendly status by Birdlife South Africa.

Prize sightings for the afternoon were Greater Flamingo, African Spoonbill and Great White Pelican in the Bot River Lagoon, African Fish Eagle, African Marsh Harrier and an Osprey. It is not certain if this Osprey is overwintering or possibly breeding in the area. Over 100 species can be spotted here. Also seen was part of a herd of 23 wild horses that roam freely in this area.

Part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (UNESCO-registered), and along the Overberg Birding Route, Rooisand is easily reached from Cape Town airport (63 km) or Hermanus (14 km). It's situated on the Bot River estuary (also known as the “Botriviervlei”), bordering Kleinmond Estuary and the Arabella Western Cape Hotel & Spa. Open 7:30-19:30, access is free of charge.

To book a guided day trip that includes Rooisand, contact Birding Africa. This visit can include other key birding sites in the Overberg: Rooiels, Harold Porter Botanical Garden at Betty's Bay and the African Penguin colony at Stoney Point. Please email or phone 021 531 9148 to book.

Marje also attended the Overberg's Biodiversity Festival 2010 at Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens in Betty's Bay. Visitors enjoyed free biodiversity lectures, guided hikes, a bird identification course and educational exhibits, such as those by SANBI, Cape Nature Conservation, Cape Bird Club, Dyer Island Trust, Overberg Bird Route and the Whale Coast Marketing.

The board walk is 400 m long and wheel-chair friendly. The bird hide is designed by Vernon Head and allows viewing in 4 different directions. © Marje Hemp

African Fish Eagle seen from Rooisand Nature Reserve © Jonathan Hemp

Rooisand Nature Reserve is managed by Cape Nature (

About Birding Africa

Birding Africa is a specialist birding tour company customising tours for both world listers and more relaxed holiday birders.  We combine interests in mammals, butterflies, dragonflies, botany and other natural history aspects and will guide you to Africa's and Madagascar's most diverse birding destinations. Our guides' knowledge of African birds and birding areas is our greatest strength and together we have rediscovered species, shared exciting observations with the birding community and had a fun time exploring our home continent.  We've even written two acclaimed guide books on where to find Southern Africa's and Madagascar's best birds. Birding is more than our passion, it's our lifestyle, and we are dedicated to making professional, best value trips filled with endemic species and unique wildlife experiences. Since 1997, we've run bird watching tours in South Africa and further into Africa for individual birders, small birding groups and top international tour companies. We've run Conservation Tours in association with the African Bird Club and work with and consult for a number of other top international tour companies and the BBC Natural History Unit.

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