The small village of Rooi Els (sometimes spelt Rooiels or Rooi-Els, meaning Red Alder) is situated 5 km north of Pringle Bay, next to the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve on the eastern shore of False Bay.
The R44 coastal road to Rooi Els, Clarence Drive, is a spectacular drive in itself and in the winter months June to October, is quite good for spotting Southern Right Whales that come into False Bay to calve.
Rooi Els is famous in birding circles for being one of the most accessible places to see the endemic Cape Rockjumper. This should be visited together with visits to Stony Point penguin colony and Harold Porter Botanical Garden, all close by, for a really good day out birding.
Cape Rockjumper is the bird to see here. Several pairs inhabit the boulder strewn and rocky slopes, but other good species are Ground Woodpecker, Cape Rock Thrush and less often Sentinel Rock Thrush. Sunbirds are represented by the endemic Orange-breasted Sunbird along with Southern Double-collared and Malachite Sunbird.
Another often seen endemic is the Cape Siskin, usually in small parties, foraging in the coastal fynbos of the rocky slopes. Look out also for Cape Sugarbird and Cape Grassbird.
Verreaux’s (Black) Eagle has in the past bred on the cliff face above the gravel track. Other raptors are Rock Kestrel, Jackal Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and White-necked Raven (an honorary raptor).
Fires, a natural occurrence in fynbos, at times sweeps through the mountain ranges along this stretch of coast. Birds do disperse in these conditions but once the vegetation regenerates they will return.
The village (Town) is not all that big, although housing development has increased considerably of late. There is a small ‘town square’ with parking and some amenities, the Rooi Els Grill, Eco Centre, coffee shop and café for visitors.
To reach the gravel road birding spot from the R44, one crosses the bridge over the Rooi Els river and estuary, it is worth scanning the sand banks here for roosting terns and gulls. Then the next turn right, which one drives past, is to the village square. Just after this, take the tarred/bricked road right and drive to the gate (the last section of the road is gravel) and the best birding habitat. Park on the right hand side and walk from here.