There are many reasons to visit the beautiful Kurland Estate, and birding is definitely one of them. Avid twitchers will know that the Plettenberg Bay area is home to a wide array of sought-after, unique bird species. In fact, on a perfect day of birding, you could expect to see up to 27 of South Africa’s endemic bird species (namely, birds found only in this particular geographic region) and near-endemic species.

Kurland’s prime position in the region, coupled with 700-hectares of magnificent natural backdrops and untouched countryside, make it an incredibly exciting bird watching destination – as ten enthusiastic members of BirdLife Plettenberg Bay discovered last month.

White-backed duck

Braving the chill of winter and the odd ominous drizzle of rain, they arrived in fine spirits, split up into two groups, and set off to start their morning bird count around the dam and surrounding polo fields. The diversity of habitats at Kurland really is a bird lover’s dream, what with the dam offering beautiful water bird and wader sightings, the polo fields presenting the perfect conditions for spotting various grassland species (like pipits), and the forest and garden exposures acting as a wild card of sorts.

Once their bird books were open and their binoculars primed, the members forgot all about the weather. All in all, they counted a total of 47 species, which is a great showing for the colder winter months when many migratory birds have already left Southern Africa and flown back to Europe to breed. In the summer months, birders can expect to see 50+ birds in and around Kurland during a typical weekend stay.

Special sightings for the BirdLife Plettenberg Bay members included Levaillant’s Cisticola, the White-faced Whistling Duck and the White-Backed Duck. And that’s not to mention the elegant African Swamphen, plucky African Jacana, Purple Heron and Hammerkop sightings which have previously been spotted on the property by a few of the regulars.

Purple Heron

African Jacana

After a beautiful day appreciating nature, the members found themselves comfortably seated inside the Kurland Homestead’s kitchen, letting the warm glow of the fireplace take hold while they chatted about their sightings and indulged in generous slices of Brenda’s signature chocolate cake and pots of steaming tea.


5 key birds to look out for at Kurland:

  1. White-Backed Duck
  2. White-Faced Whistling Duck
  3. African Jacana
  4. African Swamphen
  5. Forest Buzzard


White-faced Whistling Duck


HAPPY AS LARKS: The attending BirdLife Plettenberg Bay members were: Steve Serfontein (Chairman); Pogie Serfontein; Patrick, Barbi and Megan Raymond; Rob May; Ian Pletzer; Terry Pickard; and Anthony and Ann Mawer.

PHOTO CREDITS: Patrick Raymond, Ian Pletzer, Terry Pickard and Bruce Ward-Smith

BirdLife South Africa strives to conserve birds, their habitats and biodiversity through scientifically-based programmes, through supporting the sustainable and equitable use of natural resources and by encouraging people to enjoy and value nature. To join a birding chapter or find out more about BirdLife South Africa visit their website.