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Swartkops Estuary, Saltpans & Tippers Creek Aloe Reserve Birding

This vast area has been known to yield sightings of some 200 species. The best time to visit would be at low tide.


The Aloe Reserve has revealed sightings of Southern Tchagra, Grey Tit, Grey-winged Francolin, White-throated and Brimstone Canary, Goliath Heron and Great Egret. 

The tidal banks in the river have yielded White-breasted Cormorant, African Sacred Ibis, Grey Plover, Sandwich, Common & Little Terns while on the saltpans Black-necked Grebe, lesser & Greater Flamingo, Common Greenshank, Curlew Sandpiper Ruff & Common Whimbrel have been seen.

Numerous rare waders can be seen at low tide if you walk up the middle of the estuary up the mudbanks to the end. A very muddy walk but waders include all the rare ones. A variety of very rare waders have pitched up over the years as well, like Common Redshank, Pacific Golden Plover, Lesser Sand Plover, White-rumped Sandpiper and Broad-billed Sandpiper.

Between Swartkops Village and Redhouse you drive past the Chatty Saltpans. Good for both flamingos as well as Hartlaub's Gull, Pied Avocet, Black-necked Grebe and White-winged Tern. Once a Red-necked Phalarope was also spotted. Painted Snipe have been seen at a vlei near the old power station.

Hartlaub’s Gull – Keith Joubert


Greater Painted Snipes – Corné  Erasmus

How to get there:

The area which is well signposted from the N2 towards Grahamstown from Port Elizabeth consists of tidal banks, saltpans and salt Marshes.

The saltpans can be seen along the road to Redhouse/Uitenhage which is signposted from Swartkops while Tippers Creek Reserve can be found by travelling through Swartkops across the single lane bridge & taking the first road to the right to Amsterdamhoek.

The Aloe Reserve is at the top of the road linking Amsterdamhoek to Bluewater Bay near the N.G. Church. Access to the river is gained by turning right at any street after entering Swartkops Village.

Warning: This is an excellent birding area but a bit dangerous. Go in groups and be aware.


Through the club's monthly e-newsletters and bi-annual magazine, the Bee-Eater, we aim to stimulate continued interest in birds and their habitats.