For a great day in the open with the right binocular and scope, it is a worthwhile experience to wander along the enchanted Desert Bird Trail and marvel at the diversity of the birds the Karoo has on display.
On the 9th of December 2010, the new 900 m Desert Birds' Trail at the Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden was launched. The trail was officially opened by Mike Bosazza who represented the Rowland and Leta Hill Trust that generously sponsored the trail. The trail was created to meander through the cultivated section of the Garden, where one can see the widest variety of the 95 bird species recorded thus far.
The Desert Bird Trail takes less than an hour to complete at a comfortable pace. It starts at the Garden Office and ends at the upper parking area. The best time for birding is from March, when the bulbs start flowering, until end November when the schotias attract sunbirds with their sweet nectar. An abundance of birds can still be seen in summer, but it can get unpleasantly hot during the day.
Along the trail there are ten colour storyboards covering topics such as migration, feathers, flight, and climate change. Additional information is provided about specific bird species such as the LBJ’s, Bokmakieries, Raptors and Mousebirds which are a common sight in the Garden. Upon arrival tourists visiting the Garden are immediately attracted to the bright and colourful signage which leads them to the Desert Bird Trail. Responses from tourists and the public have been very good as the information is easy to understand.
“The launch of this self-guided Bird Trail will be a great asset for everyone with a keen interest in birding. We are also hoping to attract more school groups” Says Lize Wofsaardt who is an interpreter at the Karoo Garden. A brochure and booklet will be created which will have copies of the signage with interesting activities intended to stimulate children whilst learning.
Situated at the foot of the Hexriver Mountain range and 120 kilometers north of Cape Town, this 154 hectare Garden is one of SANBI’s nine National Botanical Gardens. The Garden is located in SKEP’s Central Breede River Valley priority region. This region has approximately 1500 species of plants of which 115 are endemic. Of the endemics, 77% are succulent species.