Happy Valley is a small kloof on the Shark River which flows from behind the old Boet Erasmus Stadium rugby ground to the sea at Humewood. It is a dodgy area but there are usually security guards and there haven't been any reported incidents for years.
It is a nice cameo outing, taking a couple of hours of slow birding. Park behind the City Lodge Hotel and walk up the river. Five species of kingfisher have been recorded (Half-collared, Brown-hooded, Pied, Malachite and Giant). The usual bush birds and the occasional forest bird like White-starred Robin are present. African Dusky and African Paradise Flycatcher both nest in summer. There are lots of Southern Masked Weavers breeding and Cape Canary is regular. African Palm Swifts can be seen overhead.
Follow the road uphill past the last dam for about a kilometre on a gravel track. At the top is an impoundment with permanent water, though often covered with water hyacinth. Water birds seen here include African Fish Eagle, Grey Heron, Black Crake and Yellow-billed Duck. Bush birds at this impoundment include Southern Tchagra, Brimstone Canary, Common Waxbill, Pin-tailed Whydah, Bronze Mannikin and Black-bellied Starling. On one occasion a male Yellow Weaver out of range was seen. The bush around the stadium is drier and denser than in the valley itself so birds like Karoo Scrub Robin occur. Spend half an hour birding at this impoundment as the birding is good. As far as is known security is okay here but being aware.
In the rank bush around the impoundment, listen for three species of woodpecker (Knysna, Olive and Cardinal). It is the best place in Port Elizabeth for the latter. Black Saw-wings breed in the earthen banks alongside the gravel track to the impoundment. At one stage there was a Red-chested Cuckoo resident in summer. A Buff-streaked Flufftail called here a couple of times in the early morning.
Knysna Woodpecker – Matthijs Ravensberg
The best bird at Happy Valley is African Wood Owl which breeds every November. Occasionally one sees adults and chicks about 600 metres from the mouth. Black Sparrowhawks also breed here annually.
African Wood Owl – Corné Erasmus
When we had the irruption of African Openbills in the Eastern Cape in 2010 nine of these birds were seen at the little impoundment mentioned.