New Agatha Bat Hawk Nest Site

Where is the Bat hawk Nesting Site

The New Agatha Bat Hawk nest site is about a 30 minute drive from Magoebaskloof Birders Cottage. Google maps link Keep a look out for the SAFCOL Woodbush Plantation (Agatha) signboard. Turn right onto the dirt road. Drive under a avenue of massive gum trees then a gap and then a second avenue of gum trees. In the fifth tree of the second set of gum trees you will find the Bat Hawk nest first discovered in 1967.

The Bat Hawk nest is on a branch facing the opposite side of the road, about 25m up. Note the metal frame that underpins the nest.

Usually you will find one or both of the birds sitting quietly on a branch high up in one of the adjacent gum trees. Early morning and early evening will probably find the birds off on a hunt.

History of the Bat Hawk Nest Site

The New Agatha Bat Hawks were first noticed by Dave Steyn in 1967 whilst collecting Eucalyptus seeds in the course of his work for the Department of Forestry. Over the next few years Archie van Reenen and Peter Williams noticed that the Bat Hawk nest was never completed. Even a slight wind would blow the nest down. Probably because gum trees have very smooth bark and they had chosen a very wide fork in the tree.

Agatha Bat Hawk Nest Site

Frank van Reenen, Archie’s 10 year old son, was hauled up 25m to the branch in a mielie-meal bag. In the picture he can be seen attaching a platform of chicken wire to the branch. He was hauled up a second time to place some sticks that had previously fallen off the nest on the wire platform.

Agatha Bat Hawk Nest putting up the platform

Within two days they continued building the nest and 1969 was the first year the birds had a successful breeding season. Bat Hawks have been breeding at the same site ever since.


Birding in Magoebaskloof

Birding in Magoebaskloof has resulted in over 300 species of indigenous birds sighted and recorded to date. Bird sightings on Dragonwyck Farm itself, has recorded 107 bird species to date. Many of these can be seen from the birders cottages on the farm.

Birding in Magoebaskloof - African Firefinch Trogon feeder
African Fire-finch Trogon

These include Black-fronted Bush-Shrikes, Olive Bush-Shrikes, Narina Trogons, Yellow-streaked Greenbuls, Olive Thrushes, Orange Ground-Thrushes, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warblers, Green Twinspots, Mountain Wagtails, Forest Buzzards, Scaly-throated Honeyguides, White-starred Robin-Chats, Chorister Robin-Chats, Blue-Mantled Crested flycatchers, Barrats Warblers and Black Saw-wings. Birding in Magoebaskloof is a huge attraction for bird lovers.

Birding in Magoebaskloof

Within a 50km radius of woodbush there are a number of different vegetative types. Birding in Magoebaskloof district covers forests, grassland, dry thornveld and riverine habitats, all within easy driving distance of Magoebaskloof. Walking trails from the Birders Cottages are also situated right next on the farm.

Birding in Magoebaskloof – Walking Trails

  • Swartbos Trail is an excellent 3km trail which passes through a mistbelt forest.
  • Woodbush Forest is one of the premier birding spots in South Africa, and is a short drive away in the adjacent valley.
  • Haenertsburg Common (or Louis Changuion) is a 10km trail which passes through grassland and forest patches of the Haenertsburg Common.
  • Serala Drive takes you through the Haenertsburg rain shadow characterised by dry thornveld before climbing up into the Wolkberg Mountains. This spot offers wonderful views of the Wolkberg Wilderness area from the Serala picnic site.
Birding in Magoebaskloof

Whether you are an avid birder or a casual birdwatcher, Magoebaskloof Birders Cottages provide ideal accommodation surrounded by indigenous plants, providing the ideal habitat for many birds and animals. Wildlife visitors include Honey Badgers, Bushbucks, Bushpigs, Civets, Genets, Porcupines and Mongooses. See images captured on our camera traps here.

Enjoy birding in Magoebaskloof early in the mornings with your coffee, along the walking trails, and in the evenings from your self catering accommodation, and soak up both the sounds and the silence of this special place.