The Alexandria, Boknes & Ngciyo area is also known as the “Golden Birding Route” due to its excellent birding opportunities.
Directions for roadside birding in Alexandria, Boknes & Ngciyo
From PE turn off the N2, just before the town of Alexandria at the “Beyond Adventure” sign. On the right is open field where, in summer, both the Long-tailed and Fan-tailed Widowbirds often occur.
Drive through the boom on the gravel road, turn left approximately 2 km further on and follow the “Woody Cape” sign for another 8 km until reaching the offices of the SA National Parks Board. (GPS S33.701242. E26.365496) This is the Alexandria Forest, characterized by tall Coral trees, Yellow-woods, Wild Plum and many more forest giants which provide the ideal habitat for many forest species including Narina Trogon, Knysna Turaco, Trumpeter Hornbill, African Olive Pigeon and many more. The staff at the office will be able to direct you to some of the many forest walks.
It is the best place locally for forest birds. There is also an excellent overnight place the Langebos hut, where you can see Narina Trogon, Chorister Robin-Chat, White-starred Robin and Trumpeter Hornbill. In the grassveld before and after the forest you can see birds like Black-winged Plover and Fan-tailed Widowbird and Long-tailed Widowbird. On one occasion there were two Southern Ground Hornbills near the office.
The drive through the forest to the coast leads to dairy-farming country high above the sand-dunes of Woody Cape and the blue ocean of Algoa Bay, with Bird Island in the distance. Also look out for Black-winged Lapwings along this stretch.
A few kilometres further on, after passing through another boom, turn right to the coastal resort of Boknes. Park on the beachfront where the lagoon enters the sea. This birding hot spot offers excellent viewing of 5 different species of hereon / egret, including Goliath, numerous species of duck, a large variety of migrant as well as local resident waders, plus an assortment of terns and sea birds.
From Boknes, continue back to the N2. A few kilometres before the N2, is a pan (Diaz dam) on your right-hand side, where good water birds can also be seen. African Snipe and Painted Snipe were seen here from time to time. (GPS: 33.699,26.606)
Continue to the N2, turn right to Ottersvlei at Bushman's River Mouth. Ottersvlei is reached by turning right at the “Beachcombers Horse Trail” sign just before Bushmans. A pair of Pygmy Geese was here for a while in August 2016.
Ngciyo Pans (GPS 33.655, 26.574)
Approximately 16 km beyond Alexandria on the R72 towards Port Alfred turn left on a gravel road sign posted Ngciyo/l. After crossing the bridge over the Bushmans River look to the right for sign depicting pans. Park at the road edge, from where you can scan the pans.
These pans rely on heavy rains for water and in drought conditions may be dry. However when there is water, migrant waders and waterfowl are plentiful.
Birds that have been seen here are: Greater Flamingo, Cape Teal, Southern Pochard, Kittlitz’s Plover, White-faced Duck, African Snipe, Whiskered Tern and on occasions Southern Ground Hornbill.