Located between mountain and sea and with nature reserves in and around the greater Hermanus area, bird watchers can delight in spotting an astonishing number of different birds. You can walk along the cliff paths, hike in the Fernkloof nature reserve or just sit in your garden and you’re sure to see a large number of our avian residents.
Species most likely to be seen include the Cape Sugar Bird, Sunbirds, Rock Thrush and Rock Jumper. Raptors include the Jackal Buzzard and a pair of Black Eagle, the latter feeding mainly on dassies. Limited areas of thick scrub and forest alongside streams support numbers of seed and insect-eating species such as the Rameron Pigeon, Canaries, Flycatchers and White-eyes. The summer months herald the arrival of migrants of which the swallows and cuckoos are the most obvious. Some birds are adapted to feeding on fynbos species such as proteas and ericas, and in this way play a vital role as pollinators.
Fynbos is one of seven floral kingdoms in the world and is endemic to the Western Cape. These extraordinary flowers grow on the roadsides and in private gardens but you can see many of the hundreds of different species in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve and along the Hermanus Cliff Path.
FERNKLOOF NATURE RESERVE
One of the most beautiful aspects of life in Hermanus is that even when you’re in the centre of the village nature is just a few meters away. Fernkloof Nature Reserve covers 1800 ha in the Kleinrivier Mountains above Hermanus and ranges in altitude from sea level to 842 m.
The reserve lies on the northern side of the town with a 60 km network of trails.These provide the opportunity for people of all fitness levels to go out and enjoy some exercise and fresh air. A display of some of the flowers that can be found in the veld is permanently maintained at the Fernkloof Visitors’ Centre. The various trails offer magnificent and unequalled views of Walker Bay, the Hemel en Aarde Valley and Maanskynbaai.
In late 1957, the Reserve was proclaimed by the Provincial Council of the Cape. It protects coastal and fynbos and a small patch of evergreen forest. Parts of the coastal area including the Cliff Path Nature Area, the Mossel River valley and the area from De Mond to Kettle Point, including the mouth of the Vogelgat River and part of the Klein River lagoon have recently been incorporated in the Fernkloof Nature Reserve.
This means that the coastal area with its unique fynbos – different from that on the mountain slopes – as well as the sensitive lagoon area, are now being included, and for the first time mountain and coastline will be linked.
There is no other place on earth where so many different species can be seen growing in such close proximity. In Fernkloof 1474 species have thus far been collected and identified. The name of the principal vegetation type of this region is derived from the Dutch word ‘fijn bosch’ which is the collective name for a myriad of evergreen shrub-like plants with small firm leaves, often rolled – but also includes woody plants with hard leathery leaves, usually broad, often rolled.
Grey rhebok, Cape grysbok, klipspringer, baboon,mongoose and dassie are present in small numbers. Others such as porcupine, genet and hare are nocturnal and these mammals are seldom seen.
There is a popular Farmers Market every Saturday morning where a variety of local produce and craft can be purchased. Fernkloof also has a nursery where you can buy indigenous plants and hosts a Wild Flower Show in September each year.