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The Island Forest Reserve Birding

The Island Forest is a 500 ha reserve within one hour’s drive from Port Elizabeth.


Indigenous coastal forest

Entrance Fee:

An Entrance Fee is levied. (Free for BirdLife members – your membership card must be provided)


The birdlife basically consists of forest birds. There is a water feature which is most productive when the reserve opens at 8.00am. A wide variety of forest birds drink and bathe at the water feature. The star (excuse the pun) of the show is the White-starred Robin which is quite tame and when bathing and a regular sighting. Of late a Chorister Robin-Chat has been seen there too. Lemon Doves are also a regular sighting (another special). Grey Sunbird, Tambourine Dove, Terrestrial Brownbul, Blue-mantled Crested-Flycatcher, Dark-backed Weaver, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, and Olive and Knysna Woodpeckers have all been recorded at the water feature. Forest Canary, Black-bellied Starling and Knysna Turaco commonly come to the water.


Knysna Turaco – Matthijs Ravensberg

The best technique for seeing the birds is to sit quietly at a bench near the water feature and wait patiently for the birds to come in. If you wait long enough you should be rewarded.

There are trails through the forest. The best is from the side of the ablution block down and right, coming out at the far side of the office. Brown Scrub-Robin can be called up on this stretch. The centre of the reserve is a picnic area consisting lawns with lapas and braai areas, surrounded by thick forest. African Emerald Cuckoo, Klaas’s Cuckoo and Balck Cuckoo are reliably seen here in spring each year. An African Wood Owl was once flushed from a dead tree cavity on a trail.


 Brown Scrub Robin – Keith Joubert

Klaas’s Cuckoo – Keith Joubert

Black Cuckoo – Keith Joubert

It is preferable to go birding at The Island during the week when it is quiet. There are often noisy crowds at the weekend.

How to get there:

To reach it drive along the N2 west from Port Elizabeth and turn left at the Sea View turnoff. Drive to Cow's Corner and then on towards Sea View. Turn left at a sign marked “The Island”. Drive in and pay and park in the picnic area. Entrance is free if you present your BLEC or BLSA membership card. Another route is along the Kragga Kamma Road and turn left onto the Sea View road at Cow's Corner.

From the Mount Pleasant area drive on the M9 towards Sea View. At Sea View turn right onto Sea View Road. The island is signposted to your right.

View the complete bird list here.

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.