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Sundays River Estuary Hot

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Throw-net fisher by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick.jpg

The Sundays River Estuary lies on the outskirts of the town of Colchester and within 3kms from the entrance to the Matyholweni Camp of the Addo Elephant National Park. The impressive Alexandria Dune Fields border the estuary mouth that flows into Algoa Bay. Little, Damara and Caspian Terns patrol the estuary and at low tide large flocks of waders feed on the exposed invertebrate rich mudflats.

Wading bird species that may be viewed includes Terek Sandpiper, Redshank, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Sanderling, Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Ruff, Grey and Ringed Plovers and Whimbrels. Greater Flamingoes and Great White Pelicans also arrive on occasion. The riparian thickets that line the riverbanks are alive with birds including Southern Tchagra, Olive Thrush and Amethyst and Greater Double-Collared Sunbirds. Osprey and African Fish Eagles are also regular visitors.

Greater Flamingoes at Sundays River by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

1 of 7: Greater Flamingoes feeding in the estuary of the Sundays River.

Water thick-knee by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

2 of 7: Water Dikkop.

Common Tern by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

3 of 7: Common Tern hunting.

Sundays River signage by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

4 of 7: Sundays River Estuary signage.

Terek Snadpiper by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

5 of 7: Terek Sandpipier.

Sundays River Estuary by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

6 of 7: Sundays River and dunes.

Little Tern by wildlife and conservation photographer Peter Chadwick

7 of 7: Little Tern.


Best Time to Photograph
Wading birds and the Little Terns and Damara Terns are best photographed on the outgoing tide when mudflats become exposed. The birds that inhabit the riparian thickets are best photographed at dawn when many will climb to prominent positions to sun themselves and also call.
Type of Photography
Best Time of Year
  • Spring
  • Summer
Photographic Tips
The tern species patrol up and down the river and estuary and it is best to try and find a narrow shallow section where the birds make repeated feeding forays. This will mean driving slowly up and down the first couple of kilometres of the estuary a few times to see where activity is at is best. Wader activity is best closer to the estuary mouth.
Recommended Gear
Long telephoto lenses are a must for photographing the birds in this area. Hand holding the camera that is set to a high ISO and allows fast shutter speeds is advisable together with using image stabilization. Mid-range zoom lenses are also useful for photographing the fishermen activity around the estuary mouth.


Season and Weather
The Sundays River lies in a malaria free area with unpredictable but largely summer rainfall, where temperatures can reach within the 30 degrees. Winters are mild and temperatures seldom drop below double digits. Be well prepared at all times and carry liquids, sunscreen, a hat and warm clothing.


Peter Chadwick
Author: Peter ChadwickWebsite: http://www.peterchadwick.co.zaEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
As a dedicated conservationist, Peter Chadwick has 30 years strategic and operational conservation experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He has worked within all of the major biomes in southern Africa as well as having provided expert conservation advice at a global level. His conservation and wildlife photography is a natural extension to his conservation work where he has numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. Peter’s photography is internationally recognized, with this work appearing globally in a wide range of print and electronic media.