The Northern Gauteng birding area consists of 6,368 square kilometres and stretch from Centurion in the south to Hammanskraal in the north and Bronkhorstspruit in the east. The area is representative of two Biomes: Savanna towards the north and grassland to the south. The vegetation varies from a dense, short bushveld to a rather open tree savanna. The advantage of the geographic is that the area offers more than 400 birds species. Birding is good year round: during the drier winter months the area host bushveld species from the north, while the summer brings the arrival of migrants.
The following birding sites can be visited in Northern Gauteng.
Austin Roberts Bird SanctuaryAustin Roberts Bird Sanctuary is situated in Mucleneuk in Pretoria and was named after the well-known ornithologist, Austin Roberts (1883 – 1948). The Sanctuary was established during 1958 and visitors can walk around the sanctuary at any time. Guided walks within the Sanctuary can be organised for groups of 6 or more people. Despite the fact that the sanctuary is totally surrounded by suburbs and busy streets, it hosts some interesting bird species for example Little Bittern, Green-backed Heron and various ducks. Unfortunately some of the birds are not indigenous to South Africa and are on a regular basis released at the sanctuary.
From the N1, take the R21/ Nelson Mandela Drive. Travel north towards the Fountains Interchange then turn on the M7/ George Storrar Drive (UNISA is to the left). Travel east towards Brooklyn. After crossing M9/Florence Ribeiro Road (George Storrar is now Middel Street), Austin Roberts will be on your left hand side. At the robot at Dey road turns left and then left at the stop street into Boshoff Street. Continue until you get to the Sasol Hadeda Hide.
(Please visit the Bird Hide page for a description on the grading of the accessibility of the different Bird Hides).
Birds can be observed from the upper deck from the Blue Crane Restaurant or from the Sasol Hadeda Hide (Grade 2). Cars need to park on the pavement in the street when visiting the hide. From there the pathway that leads to the hide is quite wide and, despite the fact that the surface changes from cement to wood, it is very accessible. The hide itself appears neat with fixed benches.
Co-ordinates: 26˚ 46' 11S 28˚13' 40E
Tel: +27 (0)12 440 8316 or +27 (0)12 341 0591
Elandsvlei (also known as Dickin's Pan)
This is a well known site in the Gauteng area and renowned for the large number of waders and other water birds that can sometimes be seen on the two ephemeral pans. The pans are surrounded by agricultural lands, grasslands, reed beds and when the water levels are low extensive mudflats. Before getting to the pans a gravel road will take you through some agricultural lands. Scan the area for species such as Capped Wheatear, Namaqua Dove, Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark and Red-capped Lark.
The water levels of the pans can change very quickly – from a decent amount of water to completely dry in a short period of time. So the type of species you can expect to see will vary dramatically from summer to winter or even within a season. When conditions are right waders and water birds, for example Common Greenshank, Ruff, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Three-banded Plover, Kittlitz's Plovers, Little Grebe and Black-winged Stilt can occur in large numbers. Many duck, geese and teals can occur here for example Cape Shoveler, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-billed Teal, Cape Teal and Spur-winged Goose to name a few.
African Snipe can be seen displaying over the wetlands. Herons, Ibises and egrets are also common and you can expect to see Grey Heron, Black-headed Heron, Squacco Heron, African Sacred Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Great Egret and Yellow-billed Egret. With a little bit of luck you might be able to see Marsh Owl and African Grass-Owl that breed in the area. Other raptors that have been recorded are African Marsh-Harrier, African Fish-Eagle and Black-shouldered Kite. But be aware - many other raptors have been recorded here so keep an eye open for them.
From Johannesburg International airport turn north on the R21 and take the R25 to Bapsfontein. When reaching Bapsfontein turn right on the R50. Continue straight after the four way intersection(R25/R51) for just over 6kms till you reach a gravel road signposted Klein Zonderhout. Turn left on this road. After about 1.4 km turn left and continue on this road through the gates and onward towards the pans.
|Elandsvlei||S 25° 59' 41.10"||E 28° 27' 45.10"|
- The roads to the pans and around the pan are in good condition and can be travelled by a sedan car. There is a basic bird hide at the larger of the two pans.
- There are no toilet facilities.
The local bird clubs, Wits and Birdlife Northern Gauteng, do arrange regular outings to this venue.
Elandsvlei is situated on private land and you need to arrange permission from the land owners to visit the pans. They can be contacted
at the following numbers:
* Atholl McOnie: +27 (0)82 411 5794
* Peter Barnes: +27 (0)82 818 4300 or +27 (0)11 733 1086
Ezemvelo Private Nature Reserve
Ezemvelo is situated on the Bankenveld, which is the transition between the Highveld grassland (about 4 000 ha) and the savanna (about 1 000 ha) biomes. Telperion is largely savanna and is about 8 000 ha in extent. The birding is good all year round but is best in summer when the migrants are present and when grassland birds are in breeding plumages and calling. A scenically attractive reserve comprising grassland plains and savanna, rocky outcrops and wetlands, stocked with a variety of animals. The Wilge River bounds the reserve on the eastern side.
Visitors may walk, cycle or drive freely in the reserve and are permitted to cross the river on foot and access the area lying to the east of the Wilge River, called Telperion. Good range of Highveld and Bushveld species and the reserve list stands in excess of 200 species. In the first 12 months of the second South African bird atlas project, four lists were submitted and 145 species recorded. Specials include African Finfoot, Verreaux's and Martial Eagles and Shelley's- and Orange River Francolin. Red-winged Francolins and Cape Grassbirds are common.
Birds associated with mountainous areas such as Mountain Wheatear, Mocking Cliff-chat, Red-winged Starling, African Black Swift and Rock Martin are frequently seen here. Many lark and cisticola species are commonly found in the reserve. Search the camping and picnic area for Greater Double-collared- and Amethyst Sunbird, Familiar Chat, Yellow-fronted- and Black-throated Canary and Lesser Honey-guide. White-fronted and European Bee-eaters and whydahs, widowbirds, bishops and weavers are plentiful in summer.
This is a popular venue for day visits and weekend birding courses organised by Gauteng bird clubs. The roads within the reserve are good and usually navigable by a sedan, but take care after rain.
There is a limited amount of luxury accommodation, a good number of self-catering chalets and mountain huts, a camping and caravan park, a picnic and braai (barbecue) area, hiking trails, game drives, cave guided walks, horse riding.
Look for the sign R21 Kempton Park/Pretoria and travel north-eastwards for about 14 km to the R25 Bapsfontein turn-off. Leave the freeway and turn left onto the R25. Keep on this road for about 60 km, travelling through Bapsfontein and Bronkhorstspruit. About 5 km beyond Bronkhorstspruit, turn right at the Ezemvelo direction sign onto a gravel road and travel for about 20 km, following the signs to Ezemvelo. The reserve is approximately 90 minutes from OR Tambo International Airport.
|Ezemvelo Private Nature Reserve||S 25° 42' 36.00"||E 28° 55' 48.00"|
Tel: +27(0)13-680-1399 and +27(0)83-440-5886
Entry Fee: R40 adult (R50 high season); R30 child (R35 high season); R20 vehicle (R25 high season)
Gate opening and closing times
*Close: 17:00 summer and winter
Faerie Glen Nature Reserve
Faerie Glen Nature Reserve is a small 128ha nature reserve situated within the city limits. The reserve's vegetation is a transition zone between Bankenveld (grassland), sour mixed bushveld and sour bushveld (Acacia veldt). The perennial Moreleta Spruit flows at the foot of the Bronberg Mountains and a large part of the reserve lies within the flood plain of this spruit and is mainly covered in grassland. Tall grasses occur along the spruit with a few reed beds in the stream. The Moreleta Spruit transects the reserve. A wooden bridge was recently erected in the eastern section of the reserve to facilitate the crossing of the spruit on foot. A section of the Bronberg Mountains forms the northern border.
Residential areas border the southern and eastern sides. The footpaths are easily followed. There is also a steep concrete path that can be followed to the top of the mountain and descends through a wooded area on the eastern side. Specials that can be found in the reserve include African Black Duck, European Nightjar, European Bee-eater, Red-throated Wryneck, Brown-backed Honeybird, swallows and swifts, Marsh Warbler, Cape Grassbird, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Cape and Village Weaver. In summer the grassland holds large numbers of Southern Masked Weaver, Red Bishop, White-winged Widow and Red-collared Widow.
Grassbirds are common and Levaillant's Cisticola also occurs here. This is also the best area for swallows and swifts and a typical summer's afternoon should produce Greater and Lesser Striped and White-throated Swallow, Barn Swallow, as well as Palm, White-rumped and Little Swift. Rock Martin can also be expected, especially in winter. Tawny-flanked Prinia is common, and in late summer Marsh Warbler is guaranteed.
Other seedeaters are not common, but small groups of Bronze Mannikin and Common Waxbill are found regularly. The grassland is burnt almost every winter, and then Crowned, Blacksmith and Wattled Lapwing, as well as Spotted Dikkop can be expected. Diedericks Cuckoo is present in considerable numbers in summer. African Black Duck is regularly found flying along the stream. Lesser Swamp Warbler is resident and Cape and Village Weavers breed in isolated spots.
In the Acacia thornveld, Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler, Long-billed Crombec, Rattling Cisticola, Black-chested Prinia and Neddicky occur in considerable numbers with Crimson-breasted Shrike also present. In summer these species are augmented with Willow Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher. Also look out for Cut-throat and Red-headed Finches. Amongst seedeaters Yellow-fronted and Black-throated Canaries are the most common, especially in the morning. Helmeted Guineafowl keep to the grassland in the thornveld. During winter the Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird moves into trees with mistletoe.
The mixed woodland houses various birds, of which Red-throated Wryneck, White-bellied and Amethyst Sunbird and Streaky-headed Seedeater can be expected with every visit. Acacia Pied Barbet, Cardinal and Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Brown-backed Honeyguide, Black Cuckooshrike, Arrow-marked Babbler, White-throated Robin-Chat (in denser areas), White-browed Scrub-Robin, Brown-crowned and Black-crowned Tchagra (the latter especially along the hillsides), Orange-breasted Bush Shrike, Violet-backed and Cape Glossy Starling, and Bokmakierie are almost always present in small numbers and can be found anywhere.
In summer Red-chested and Black Cuckoo often call from denser trees and during caterpillar outbreaks in late summer, Striped Cuckoo can be expected. The thick bush is the best spot for Southern Boubou and Bar-throated Apalis and in summer African Paradise Flycatcher is regularly seen here. The hills sometimes produce something rare, such as a rock thrush or Striped Pipit, but generally not much happen there. On the side of the kloof there are dead trees that are often used in summer as perches for European and White-fronted Bee-eaters.
Raptors are scarce in FGN. Black-shouldered Kites can be expected from time to time, and in late summer Yellow-billed Kite and Steppe Buzzard may occur. Now and then a sparrowhawk, or even a young African Harrier-Hawk can be seen. The best time for birding is in summer, especially in the morning or late afternoon. Up to 75 species can be expected on a summer morning, but 40 species are guaranteed, even on a winter's afternoon. About 150 species have been recorded, including very rare birds such as Corncrake and River Warbler.
Take the R21 from OR Tambo International Airport to Pretoria and turn off onto the N1-North to Polokwane shortly before you reach Pretoria and then the
Lynnwood/WNNR off-ramp Turn right at the traffic light, cross over the freeway and follow the road for ± 3km. Turn right at the (5th) traffic light onto the M33 (General Louis Botha Drive). ± 1km further there is a sign indicating the Faerie Glen Nature Reserve/Plumbago Tea Garden on your left. It takes approximately an hour from OR Tambo International Airport.
|Faerie Glen Nature Reserve||S 25°46'27"||E 28°17'29"|
Tel: +27(0)12-348-1265/6 (8462)
There is no charge but you must sign in at the gate. Security at the gate and in the reserve has lately been upgraded but it is not recommended that you visit the site alone.
There are no facilities within the reserve but the Plumbago Tea Garden is situated at the entrance.Gate opening and closing times
*Summer (Sep-Apr) 06H00 19H00
*Winter (May-Aug) 08H00 18H00
Pretoria Botanical Gardens
The Pretoria National Botanical Garden is a 76ha urban oasis where birding is in a relaxed and safe atmosphere with up to 50 species of birds to be seen in a morning's birding. The best way to observe the birdlife is to walk the undemanding trailsthat criss-cross the gardens. The garden consists of various habitats including woodland, acacia thickets, lawns and a few small ponds with a 35m high quartzite outcrop running down the centre. Some of the special species that can be seen here include Thick-billed Weaver (also nesting in the gardens), Fairy Flycatcher in winter, Brown-backed Honeybird, Red-throated Wryneck, Orange-breasted Bush-shrike as well Crimson-breasted Shrike.
More common species include Cape Robin-Chat, Neddicky, Amethyst Sunbird, White-bellied Sunbird, Southern Boubou, Black-backed Puffback, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Karoo and Kurrichane Thrush. Crowned Lapwing is very common on the lawns and can be seen in summer sitting on their nests. Blacksmith Lapwing and Spotted Thick-knee also occur here.
At the ponds Common Moorhen and Egyptian Goose can be seen as well as breeding bishops and weavers during the summer months. This is not a place known for raptors but the occassional Verreaux's Eagle and African Harrier-Hawk can be seen flying over the gardens. Mammals include Rock Dassies, Common Duiker, Slender Mongoose and Scrub Hare.
From Johannesburg International Airport take the R21 north to Pretoria. Take the off-ramp at the intersection with the N1 north to Polokwane shortly before you reach Pretoria and then the Lynnwood/WNNR off-ramp. At the top of the off-ramp turn right and immediately after crossing over the highway turn left into Meiring Naude. Continue until you reach a T-junction with Cussonia. Turn left into Cussonia and you will find the entrance to the gardens immediately on your right.
|Pretoria Botanical Gardens||S 25° 44' 24.00"||E 28° 16' 35.00"|
There are ablution facilities as well as a restaurant within the gardens. A second restaurant is accessible from the parking area of the gardens. Both restaurants are open 7 days a week. Please note that on weekends the gardens host concerts – so it is best to go birding as soon as the gates open in the morning. Toilet facilities at the Garden entrance, restaurant and Tea Garden are adapted for physically challenged people. No overnight accommodation is available.
A bird checklist can be bought at the entrance.
The Garden is open 7 days a week from 08:00 to 18:00. No entry after 17:00.
- Adults R25
- Students R12
- Children R7
- Children under 6 years Free
- BOTSOC members Free
- Pensioners Free - Tuesdays only
Tel: +27 (0)12 843 5172/3/4
Fax: +27 (0)12 804 4992
Tel: +27(0)12 804 1714
Fax: +27(0)12 809 0573
Tel: +27(0)12 804 5840/1
Rietvlei Nature Reserve
This reserve is a favorite birding spot for many birders due not only to the interesting variety of birds that can be found here, but also because of the excellent facilities as for example the 40kms of roads (30kms tarred) and three well maintained bird hides. The reserve also has a number of mammal species including Rhino and Hippopotamus. Please note that you are not allowed to leave your vehicle while driving around in the reserve.
A variety of habitats can be found in the reserve. The Rietvlei dam and other water bodies host numerous waterbirds while the reserve is also well known for its vleis, grasslands and woodland areas. During summer you can expect to see near to hundred species in a day's birding. About 500 meters from the entrance is the Coot Corner's hide which will provide you with excellent views over the dam. Numerous waterbird species can be seen from this hide including Reed Cormorant, African Purple Swamphen, Great Crested Grebe, Common Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coot and African Darter. Lesser Swamp-Warbler can be heard calling from the reed beds while other warbler species might be heard in summer including African Reed-Warbler.
A number of pipits and larks occur in the reserve and your identification skills of LBJs will be tested on a regular basis. Look out for Plain-backed Pipit, African Pipit, Spike-heeled Lark, and Rufous-naped Lark. Cisticolas are common in the grassy areas so listen in summer for the display calls of Zitting Cisticola, Desert Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola and Cloud Cisticola. Levaillant's Cisticola is common in the vlei areas.
A hide that must be visited is the Marais dam picnic spot. This is another good spot to see a number of waterbirds including Reed Cormorant, Yellow-billed Duck, White-breasted Cormorant, Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen and Egyptian Goose. Also scan the edge of the water for Black Crake and African Purple Swamphen. Warblers can be heard calling in the reeds next to the hide as for instance Lesser Swamp-Warbler and Little Rush-Warbler.
Other special birds for the Gauteng areas that occur at Rietvlei are Capped Wheatear, Temminck's Courser (irregularly) and Northern Black Korhaan while Secretarybird has bred in the reserve and can sometimes be seen strolling through the reserve searching for food. Grass Owl and Marsh Owl also occur in the reserve but you will be extremely lucky to see the Grass Owls, although not impossible. Dark-capped Yellow Warbler has also been recorded recently.
Other more common birds to be seen in the wooded areas are Thick-billed Weaver, Cape White-eye and Southern Boubou, Cape Glossy Starling, Chestnut-vented Tit-Babbler and Fiscal Flycatcher. Scan the sky regularly for swallows, martins and swifts for example Brown-throated Martin, Banded Martin, Sand Martin, White-throated Swallow, Greater-striped Swallow and African Palm Swift. Rietvlei is also a good spot for raptors for example Greater Kestrel, Rock Kestrel, Amur Falcon, Steppe Buzzard and Black-shouldered Kite.
From Johannesburg International take the R21 towards Pretoria. Before reaching Pretoria take the Irene/Nellmapius Drive off-ramp. At the top of the off-ramp turn right and drive to the first four-way stop and then turn right towards Olifantsfontein. After about 1.5 km (after crossing the Sesmylspruit) you will see the sign Rietvlei Nature Reserve. Turn left and follow the road to the main gate.
|Rietvlei Nature Reserve||S 25° 52' 59.00"||E 28° 15' 48.00"|
The reserve offers a number of other activities as for example night drives, overnight facilities and horse-riding trails. There is a nice picnic spot with braai facilities. Ablution facilities are available in the reserve.
(Please visit the Bird Hide page for a description on the grading of the accessibility of the different Bird Hides).
Coots Corner Hide (Grade 3) is the first hide you will find on your left after entering the reserve. It overlooks Rietvlei Dam and a number of waterbirds can be seen form here. The hide is surrounded by reeds which make it excellent for watching weavers, warblers and shy species such as Little Bittern. The parking area and pathway consists of a grassy area and the surface is somewhat rough. The rest of the pathway consists of a boardwalk with quite a steep gradient. The benches are fitted to the floor of the hide and the shelves and viewing slots are also quite high.
Co-ordinates: 25˚ 25' 45S 28˚ 16' 05E
Fern and Fountain Hide (Grade 3) is located on the Vlei Route and overlooks the vlei area of the reserve. The area in front of the hide has been cleared of reeds and provides the opportunity to see waterbirds as well as warblers. This is a well maintained hide. Due to the elevation difference between the road and the hide, there is quite a gradient to be traversed to enter the hide which makes the hide not accessible to people who are mobility impaired. The benches are fixed to the floor of the hide and the viewing slots are also quite high.
Co-ordinates: 25˚ 52' 58S 28˚ 18' 31E
Marais Dam Hide (Grade 2) is located next to the Marais Dam in the centre of the reserve. The hide overlooks the dam where a large number of waterbird species can been seen. The hide is located next to the main picnic spot in the reserve. The pathway to the hide is built of cement and is smooth. However the gradient of this pathway is extremely steep.
Co-ordinates: 25˚ 54' 25S 28˚ 18' 30E
Islands View Hide (Grade 2) overlooks Rietvlei Dam and a small island in the dam. From the hide a number of waterbirds can be observed. There is a small breeding colony of White-breasted Cormorants and Reed Cormorants on the island. The surface of the parking area consists of gravel and patches of grass. The entrance pathway is made of cement but the second halve of the trail is a wooden structure.
Co-ordinates: 25˚ 52' 35S 28˚ 16' 49E
Summer: September to March 05:30 - 17:00 (You may remain inside until 19:00 when the gates close).
Winter: April to August 06:00 - 16:00 (You may remain inside until 18:00 when the gates close).
Tel: +27 (0)12 345 2274
Roodeplaatdam Nature Reserve
This very popular 795 ha reserve consists of a mix of open savannah, grassveld, dense savannah woodland as well as the Roodeplaatdam. During a morning's birding you can expect to see a nice variety of water and terrestrial birds. About 80-100 species can be recorded in a few hours' birding. You can drive through the reserve using a number of roads (most of them good enough for a sedan car) or you can walk the trail that runs through the reserve. The reserve has a number of well maintained and strategically well placed hides.
After entering through the gate turn left at the sign "Zeekoeigat". After about 2km you will reach the Zeekoeigat complex. Enter here and continue till you see the "Bird Hide" sign and follow the track to the bird hide. At the bird hide a nice variety of water birds can be seen namely Grey Heron, African Sacred Ibis, White-faced Duck, Glossy Ibis, African Darter, Green-backed Heron, Little Egret and occasionally Black Heron. Lesser Swamp-Warbler and Little Rush-Warbler can usually also be heard in the reeds next to the hide.
Returning to the main road you will soon pass some office buildings. It is always worth your while to stop here and scrutinize the trees and grass surrounding the offices for species such as Crimson-breasted Shrike, Fiscal Flycatcher, Speckled Pigeon and in recent years Burnt-necked Eremomela. Cape Penduline-Tit has also been recorded here – although irregularly.
Travel through the parking area next to the office buildings onto a gravel road that will take you to the second bird hide. From the offices to the hide is about 1.8km. At the hide look out for waders such as Three-banded Plover, African Jacana and Wood Sandpiper. Other species you might come across are Bearded Woodpecker, Pied Kingfisher, Black Heron, Acacia Pied Barbet and numerous bishops and weavers.
Go back to the main road and turn right. After a few hundred meters you will reach the turnoff to the picnic spot. The picnic spot is situated between large trees and as the picnic spot borders the dam a number of water birds can be seen including large numbers of Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe, White-breasted Cormorant, Reed Cormorant, Grey-headed Gull, White-winged Tern and Whiskered Tern. Black Cuckooshrike has been recorded in the trees next to the picnic spot. Always expect the unexpected as vagrant species, such as Black-headed Gull, have been recorded here in the past.
Go back to the main road and turn left. Scan the roadside and listen for the characteristic call of Coqui Francolin which sometimes feed on the edge of the road - right in the open. Continue to the T-junction and turn left at the gravel road, pass the Aqua Social club and continue on the gravel road but beware the road can sometimes be very wet and bumpy. Flycathcers, barbets, woodpeckers, nightjars and many other birds can be seen here.
Take the R21 from Johannesburg to Pretoria and turn off onto the N1-North to Polokwane shortly before you reach Pretoria. Continue a few kilometers and take the Zambesi off-ramp from the N1 and turn right. Continue on the Cullinan R513 for about 5.5km and take the Kameelfontein turnoff to the left. After 3.6km you will get a board "Roodeplaat Reserve" - turn left and continue on this road for a few hundred meters to the entrance of the reserve.
Roodeplaatdam Nature Reserve
|S 25° 38' 59.00"||E 28° 21' 48.00"|
The reserve has a number of bird hides, a picnic site with ablution facilities, a hiking trail, chalet accommodation and conference facilities. Apart from birds there are also a number of mammal species including Burchell's Zebra, Kudu, Waterbuck, Warthog and Impala.
(Please visit the Bird Hide page for a description on the grading of the accessibility of the different Bird Hides).
Zeekoeigat Hide (Grade 2) is maybe the most important bird hide in terms of size as well as the possibility to see some interesting waterbirds. The entrance to the hide and the walkway is wide enough for a wheelchair. There are a number of benches in the hide that are all permanently fitted to the base of the hide. There is no specific space for a wheelchair, although the one side of the hide can be used for this purpose, but it is not ideal. The height of the shelves and viewing space is about 870 mm but no leg or knee clearance is provided.
Co-ordinates: 25˚ 39' 06.45S 28˚00'29.6E
Wildlife View Hide (Grade 3) was built in 2011. The hide seems more orientated to watching mammals visiting the water hole in front of the hide. However, with time the vegetation might improve and this could provide opportunities to see some interesting birds. The entrance to the hide is very wide and provides ample space for wheelchair users. Unfortunately the first few meters of the entrance is quite steep and not aligned with the ground. The benches are fixed and no space is provided for wheelchair users. The shelves and the viewing spaces are also quite high
Co-ordinates: 25˚ 38' 43.25S 28˚21' 12.2E
Picnic Site Hide (Grade 4) is situated next to the picnic spot in the reserve and overlooks Roodeplaatdam but does not provide much more viewing than can obtain from the picnic site. Access to the hide is limited: the pathway to the hide, is not accessible to wheelchair users and the first few meters of the hide is also very steep which would make it difficult for most people who are mobility impaired to enter the hide without assistance. The benches are fixed to the floor of the hide. No space is provided for wheelchair users. The shelves and viewing slots are also quite high. The hide is furthermore quite far from the parking area to the hide (nearly 200 m).
Co-ordinates: 25˚ 38' 09.9S 28˚ 20'55.8E
Eastern Bird Hide (Grade 3) looks out over a quiet area of Roodeplaat Dam. With some luck egrets, ducks and some waders can be seen. In the past this was a great spot to see Great-crested Grebe. The area in front of the hide was recently still covered with water hyacinth, but has now been sprayed and cleared. There is a "step" to the entrance of the hide and the benches are fixed to the floor of the hide. There is a space that can be used by wheelchair users, although no leg clearance is provided. The shelves and viewing slots are also quite high
Co-ordinates: 25˚ 38' 19.52S 28˚ 22'36.75E
A nominal entrance fee is payable.
The gates are open from 06:00-18:00.
Contact numbers: +27 (0)12 808 5131/ 5174 / 5624
Rooiwal Water Treatment Works
This water purification facility offers excellent birding for waders and water birds. It consists mainly of settling ponds and dams, but adjacent irrigated grassveld also offers good birding. Water purification works usually provide ideal habitats for water birds and the permanent dams and settling ponds ensure that water birds are present throughout the year. Ploughed fields and grasslands, adjacent to the purification plant, are regularly irrigated with treated sewage water from the works and provide excellent habitat for waders and lapwings.
BirdLife Northern Gauteng has been visiting Rooiwal since 1971 and has recorded 258 species. Birding is mostly water birds however on early summer mornings the lawns between the lower settling ponds often produce several Yellow Wagtails. Winter and summer regulars are Comb Duck, large flocks of White-faced Duck, Red-billed Teal, Little Grebe, Reed Cormorant, Black-headed and Grey Heron, Cattle Egret, Sacred Ibis, Yellow-billed Duck, African Black Duck, Southern Pochard, Red-knobbed Coot, Crowned- and Black-winged Lapwings, Black-winged Stilt, Cape and African Pied Wagtails, Squacco Heron and Brown-Throated Martin and White-throated Swallow. Long-crested Eagle and Black-breasted Snake-Eagle are regular visitors.
Birding is best during summer with a variety of waders as well as flocks of White-winged Terns and Barn Swallows. A large number of Amur Falcons
may also be spotted on the power lines. Winter birding is also excellent as many duck species frequent these dams during the winter months.
Rooiwal Water Treatment Works are situated north of Pretoria. From OR Tambo International Airport, take the R21 north to Pretoria. After approximately 40 km on the R21, take the N1-North off-ramp to Pretoria/Polokwane. Remain on the N1-North and take the Pyramid / Wallmannsthal off-ramp and then turn to the left. Continue on this road for 6.5 km until you reach a T-junction with the R101. Turn right onto the R101 for 1.5 km. Turn right onto the Rooiwal / Mabopane road (this turn off is directly opposite the power station). Follow the road as it circles left, taking you onto a bridge, crossing the R101 and wetlands. Turn right at the t-junction. Continue past the entrance to Rooiwal Power Station until you reach the entrance gate to Rooiwal Water
Treatment Works on the left. The site is approximately 80 minutes from OR Tambo International Airport.
- A permit must be obtained in advance.
- Contact Mari Wolmarans during office hours at Pretoria: +27(0)72 190 3474 or 27(0)72 190 3474 for a permit to be faxed.
- There is no entrance fee but advanced booking is required.
- Standy operator: +27 (0)82 320 1701
Rust de Winter Nature Reserve and Dam
The 1650 ha nature reserve surrounds the 500 ha dam. Broad-leaved woodland, mixed woodlands, rocky woodland slopes, alluvial acacia veldt, marshy areas and open water. Thanks to the variety of habitats in this NR, 400 bird species have been recorded. The tarred road leading to Rust de Winter town often yields species not normally found in the NR like Meyer's Parrot & Red-billed Buffalo-Weaver. The dirt road leading to the gate is also a good place to bird and you can expect birds like Lesser Grey-, Red-backed- & Long-tailed Shrike & Red-breasted Swallow. Look out for Striped Kingfisher at the entrance gate. Drive slowly along the shore until you reach a gate just where the angling area ends. Go through the gate and walk to the water to find water birds like White-faced, Comb, Yellow-billed & African Black Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Spoonbill & Spur-winged Goose. Also look for African Fish Eagle, Glossy Ibis, Purple Heron, Yellow-billed Egret, Little Bittern, African Rail, White-winged Tern, Pearl-breasted Swallow and Brown-throated Martin. Thornveld species like Violet-eared Waxbill, Arrow-marked Babbler, Melba Finch, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Burchell's Starling, Pearl-spotted Owlet, Grey- & Yellow Hornbill, Little Bee-eater, Purple Roller and Grey-headed Bush-Shrike can be found here. The road goes around the dam and you can drive, stop and bird for a couple of kilometres. Where it is possible, walk to the dam.Over weekends and holidays the reserve may be packed with fishermen and their families. Boats are allowed on the dam. The road next to the dam may become impassable after heavy rain. Be aware of snakes. Birding is good all year round.
Take R 21-North towards Pretoria. Shortly before reaching Pretoria turn onto the N1-North towards Polokwane. Turn off at the Rust de Winter / Pienaarsrivier off-ramp. Turn right and continue for ± 21km towards Rust de Winter town. Turn right at the Rust de Winter Dam sign onto a dirt road and drive for 4km to the entrance of the reserve. Allow for approximately and hour and a half travelling time from OR Tambo International Airport.
|Rust de Winter Nature Reserve and Dam||S 25° 14' 10.00"||E 28° 30' 57.00"|
Contact number for site: +27(0)12-723-014
Rates for day visitors
Children & pensioners: R5
Gate opening and closing times
Summer: 06H00 18H00
Winter: 06H00 18H00
Tswaing (meaning place of salt in Setswana), features mainly a 220 000 year old meteorite impact crater approximately 70 meters deep and 1,3km in diameter. There is a variety of ecosystems, a wetland and the remains of a factory that produced soda ash and salt at the beginning of the 19th century. The 1 946 hectare conservation area comprises mostly acacia bushveld, broad-leafed and riverine vegetation. Over 240 bird species have been recorded, the bulk being typical Acacia Bushveld birds, including Golden-tailed and Cardinal Woodpeckers, Acacia Pied Barbet, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, African Grey, Yellow-billed and Red-billed Hornbills, Lilac-breasted Roller, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Black-headed Oriole, Marico and White-bellied Sunbirds, Green-winged Pytilia, Jameson's Firefinch and Common Waxbill. Fairy Flycatchers, one of the intra-South African winter migrants, are frequently seen.
Waterfowl and waders are found on the shoreline in the crater as well as at the river to the northeast. Both Cape and Whitebacked vultures frequent the area. There is a resident, breeding pair of African Hawk-Eagles. Other raptors include Wahlberg's Eagle as well as various Hawks, Buzzards, Goshawks, Falcons and Kestrels. Be on the lookout for the melanistic form of Gabar Goshawk. Owls to be found are Barn, White-faced, African Scops and Pearl-spotted Owlets. Spurfowl and Francolins abound, with the most common being Swainson's and Natal. Red-crested Korhaan is more often heard than seen. In summer many swallows and swifts can be found over the crater and higher lying bushveld. A day visit is not really long enough to explore this exceptional reserve and at the very reasonable tariffs, it is worthwhile spending a few days discovering the secrets that it has to offer. Birding is good all year round.
Take the R21-North to Pretoria (Tshwane). After ± 40km turn onto the N1-North to Polokwane. After 30km exit at the Pyramid/Wallmannsthal off-ramp and turn left towards Pyramid. Turn right onto the R101 when you reach the t-junction. After ± 6.5km turn right at the Rooiwal/Mabopane sign and follow the road to the left to pass over the bridge. Continue on this road until you reach a t-junction (M35). Turn right and keep straight on the M35 (you will pass through the residential area of Kudube/Hammanskraal) till you see a sign on your left to Tswaing, which is just before Soutpan Trading Store. The
entrance is ± 2.4km further on you right. Allow for one and a half hours of travelling time from OR Tambo International Airport.
|Tswaing Nature Reserve (Entrance)||S 25° 24' 56.76"||E 28° 5' 58.68"|
Picnic and camping site with ablution block and ample parking.
Group accommodation (max. 64 people) in Kgotla comprising four units in three ethnic styles, each sleeping 16 people clustered around a central "boma" with kitchen and ablution facilities. Only mattresses are provided. All bedding, utensils and food must be brought along.
Reservations are essential.
- Four hiking / biking trails between 7 and 10km long; amongst them the 7,2km crater trail, the only one of its kind in the world.
- Guided crater walks with Tswaing staff by prior arrangement.
- Displays of Tswaing's natural and cultural history.
- With prior arrangement it can be arranged to drive around instead of walking.
Reception Office: +27(0)83-207-7198
Day visitors: Adults R15.00, Children R10.00.
Guided trail walks: Standard admission fee plus R80.00 per guide.
Camping: R25.00 per night excluding admission fees.
Overnight accommodation: Adults R35.00, Children under 12 R23.00 pp per night.
Gate opening and closing times
Open every day of the year except December 25th and January 1st.
Summer: 07H30 16H00
Winter: 07H30 16H00
Wonderboom Nature Reserve
The 200 ha Wonderboom Nature Reserve is situated to the north of Pretoria and straddles the Magaliesberg Mountains. It is famous for its magnificent specimen of Ficus salicifolia, a wild fig called the "Wonderboom" that is more than 1 000 years old. At the top of the Wonderboom Hill are the ruins of the Wonderboom Fort, one of four forts built by the former Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek at the end of the 19th century.
Most of the reserve consists of broad-leaved woodland covering the rocky slopes with some open grasslands. At the bottom of the hill is a picnic spot with some lawns and large trees. The Apies River can also be accessed from the western-side of the reserve.
Birding is done by foot. There are a number of trails and making the effort to climb the hill can be especially rewarding birding wise. Some of the species that can be seen are Verreaux's Eagle, Rock Martin, Bar-throated Apalis, Fiscal Flycatcher, African Grey Hornbill, Spotted Thick-knee, Cape Glossy Starling, Southern Boubou, Black-backed Puffback, Neddicky, White-bellied Sunbird, White-throated Robin-chat and White-browed Scrub-robin to name a few. In summer a number of Cuckoo species can be heard or seen including Klaas's, Red-chested, Diderick and Black Cuckoo. If you are lucky you can see Striped Pipit at the top of the hill. Scan the fruiting trees for the beautiful African Green Pigeons. About 50 species can be seen during a few hours birding.
Take the R21 from Johannesburg to Pretoria and turn off onto the N1-North to Polokwane shortly before you reach Pretoria. Continue a few kilometers and take the Zambesi off-ramp from the N1 and turn left into Zambesi drive and continue for 8-9kms and turn left into Lavender. After a few 100 meters the road splits – keep to Lavender and watch for the reserve entrance on the left.
|Wonderboom Nature Reserve||S 25° 41' 10.00"||E 28° 11' 28.00"|
There are a picnic spot, ablution facilities and a boardwalk under the massive wild fig. The picnic spot can become crowded, especially over weekends.
Wonderboom Nature Reserve Gate: +27 (0)12 543 0918
07:00 to 18:00 (entrance to the reserve only until 16:00)
An entrance fee is payable.