Settlers Park is a bird magnet, situated in the heart of Port Elizabeth, where the “birds fly free”. The Baakens River winds through 54 hectares of the park.
There are patches of forest, bush, cultivated gardens, cliffs, reedbeds and the river itself. Each has its own bird fauna.
Unfortunately, security is an issue in the reserve. It is best to go in a group and be aware. To book a ranger to go with you, which is advised, phone Nomzamo at 041 506 1799.
One of the best times to go birding in the park is in August when the coral trees are in flower. These attract a huge variety of birds. Birdlife Eastern Cape runs a public bird walk through the park on the first Saturday of every month. A ranger is also employed for safety. This is your best bet for birding in the park, with experts and fellow bird enthusiasts. We meet at the How Avenue car park at 8am in summer and 8.30am in winter.
Some of the almost 200 species found in this area include Knysna & Olive Woodpeckers, Knysna Turaco, African Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon, Grey, collared and Amethyst Sunbirds, Swee Waxbill, Half-collared Kingfisher, Cape Robin-Chat, Half-collared Kingfisher, Olive Bush Shrike and Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher.
Olive Woodpecker – Matthijs Ravensberg
Knysna Woodpecker – Matthijs Ravensberg
There are Peregrine Falcons on the cliffs at Essexvale and Black Sparrowhawks which breed every year in the park. Water birds seen are African Black Duck, Purple Heron, Black-crowned Night Heron, African Darter, and Malachite Kingfisher.
African Black Duck – Godfrey Lodge
Over the last sixty years a huge list of birds has been recorded, with some mouth-watering vagrants included. Best sightings over the years are Bush Blackcap, African Crake, Grey Wagtail and African Grass Owl. A pair each of Spotted Eagle Owls and African Wood Owls breeds in the reserve.
Many Eastern Cape birders have cut their birding teeth in Settlers Park and it continues to be an excellent venue for new birders seeking experience.
How to get there:
The main entrance to Settlers Park is from How Avenue, off Park Drive. There is another entrance from Third Avenue, Walmer. It may also be entered from the top end at Essexvale, by taking the Chelmsford Avenue turnoff left at the bottom of Target Kloof. Follow the winding road to the parking area. Another access is from Cudmore Street at the bottom of Brickmakerskloof.