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The eastern part of the Witwatersrand, known as the East Rand, and extends from Germiston in the west to Springs in the east, and south down to Nigel, and includes the towns of Boksburg, Benoni, Brakpan, Kempton Park, Edenvale, and Bedfordview. The natural vegetation of this region consists of Highveld grassland on gently rolling terrain. It also includes the catchment of several rivers, seasonal wetlands and permanent pans which ensure a high diversity of waterbirds.

Grootvaly Wetland Reserve


sbr-home1The Grootvaly Wetland Reserve is part of the Blesbokspruit system and forms the northern section of the Blesbokspruit Ramsar Site. The reserve site covers 350 hectares and is a high altitude wetland consisting ofopen water, reedbeds and marshy areas with grasses and sedges which are sometimes flooded. There are areas of short grass attracting Capped Wheatears in winter.

Water birds and waders are the main attraction depending on water levels and the reserve is a good area for duck species including White-faced, Fulvous and Yellow-billed as well as Hottentot Teal and Cape Shoveler. Winter visitors include Sentinel Rock-Thrush and Capped Wheatear and South African Shelduck are occasional visitors. In the grassy areas a variety of bishops and widows occur as well as finches and waxbills such as African Firefinch, Red-headed Finch, Orange-breasted and Violet-eared Waxbills. The information pamphlet produced for this reserve and adjoining Marievale Bird Sanctuary lists 267 species.

Mine water discharged into the Blesbokspruit constitutes a threat to the wetland as it raises water levels particularly in the dry season and contains pollutants. There is an environmental centre used by schools. The centre is also available for conferences. There are two hides and three lapa's where visitors can braai or picnic. Early summer and summer are the best times to visit the site. However more saline conditions prevail during winter when species such as Pied Avocet and Cape Teal may be present.

Bird Hides

Grootvalley2res(Please visit the Bird Hide page for a description on the grading of the accessibility of the different Bird Hides).

Sensory Trail Hide – SAPPI Hide (Grade 2) is a beautiful hide overlooking some open spaces in the Blesbokspruit. A number of waterbirds and swallows can be seen from this hide. This hide has been developed with the aim of making it universally accessible. To get to the hide you must use a short board walk providing an opportunity to see some warblers and weavers in the reeds flanking the board walk. A great feature of this hide is the way the benches have been designed to make provision for both wheelchair users and non-wheelchair users. This is done by providing benches with hinges that can be lifted up when a wheel chair user wants to use the hide.

GrootvalleyRaised Hide (Grade 4) is a new hide has recently been built at the reserve. The hide has been raised quite high to provide a view over the Blesbokspruit. From here the vlei area can be viewed. The steps leading up to the hide are extremely steep and care must be taken climbing up and down the steps. The benches inside the hide are fixed.
Co-ordinates: 26˚ 13' 09S 28˚28' 59E

Directions

From OR Tambo International Airport take the R21 south then the N12 Witbank freeway towards Springs. Take exit 457 marked Springs/Etwatwa, turn right at the intersection and proceed south towards Springs for 6,7 kilometres. The entrance to the reserve is sign posted Grootvaly/Blesbokspruit at the gate on the left side of the road. The site is approximately 40 minutes from OR Tambo International Airport.

Additional Information

Gate opening and closing times
Summer: 06H00 19H00
Winter: 07H00 17H00

Korsman Bird Sanctuary


sbr-home6Korsman Bird Sanctuary is approximately 4 ha in extent, and comprises a large dam bordered by margins of grassland and reedbeds and dotted with a number of reedbed islands. The Sanctuary is completely enclosed but can be safely overlooked from the 2 kilometers of road that circle the site and from the two hides accessed from the road. Despite its urban location the birdlife is prolific and large numbers of Grey Heron, Black-headed Heron, African Sacred Ibis, Glossy Ibis and African Spoonbill breed in the reedbeds.

Water levels fluctuate and this can change the dynamics of the Sanctuary with low water levels exposing large areas of mud to attract waders at the right time of year. Regular visitors include Greater Flamingo, Goliath Heron and Great Crested Grebe whilst African Purple Swamphen is resident. Water birds include large numbers of Red-knobbed Coot, Little Grebe and Yellow-billed Duck with fairly regular visits by Southern Pochard, Maccoa Duck and White-backed Duck.

When water levels are low and the season is right the banks should be checked for waders including Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Ruff and Black-winged Stilt. The small rocky islet on the western side normally holds a small population of African Darter, White-breasted and Reed Cormorants. During the summer months African Reed-, Lesser Swamp- and Little Rush- Warblers call from the reedbeds and large numbers of swifts and swallows hawk for insects over the dam. If you are very fortunate you may see the illusive Little Bittern or even an occasional visiting African Marsh-Harrier.

Directions

From Johannesburg Airport take the R21 South towards Boksburg. After approximately 5 kilometres exit left onto the N12 Witbank road and proceed for a further 4 kilometers to the M43 Atlas Road off ramp. Turn right onto Atlas Road and after four kilometers left onto Race Course Road which has a Total petrol station on the corner. Proceed through the security boom, keep right on Sunnyside Avenue and after 2 kilometers turn left onto Pan Road. Pan Road leads onto the The Drive which circles the Bird Sanctuary. Approximate travelling time from the airport 20 to 30 minutes depending on traffic conditions and the time of day.

GPS Co-ordinates

Location Latitude Longitude
Pan Road Entrance   S 26° 11' 42.60"   E 28° 17' 44.00"

Facilities

The Bird Sanctuary has no ablution facilities. There are two hides over-looking the pan.

Additional Information

Korsman Bird Sanctuary is maintained and overseen by the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and the Friends of Korsman Group. Access is from public roads and the Sanctuary can therefore be viewed at any time.

Entrance Fees: None

Marievale Bird Sanctuary


sbr-home12Marievale Bird Sanctuary is approximately 1 000 ha in extent, is located at the southern end of the Blesbokspruit RAMSAR site and is a designated Important Bird Area (IBA SA021). The reserve is accessed by approximately 12 kilometers of rough dirt roads that can become impassable during long periods of wet weather. The reserve consists of large expanses of marsh with extensive reedbeds interspersed with open patches of water and mudflats during drier periods. There are areas of natural grassland and farmland surrounding the wetlands. Waterbirds are the main attraction with large populations of Reed Cormorant, Red-knobbed Coot and Yellow-billed Duck. It is probably the best location in Gauteng to see Goliath, Black, Squacco and Purple Herons alongside the commoner Grey and Black-headed. African Spoonbill and African Darter are relatively common and Greater and Lesser

Flamingos occur from time to time. Ducks include Cape Shovelor, White-faced, Red-billed Teal, Hottentot Teal, Southern Pochard and even the occasional Cape Teal, Fulvous Duck, South African Shelduck and White-backed Duck. During migration and low water levels waders include large numbers of Ruff, Curlew Sandpiper, African Snipe, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt and Little Stint. Wood and Marsh Sandpipers occur regularly. During summer months the reedbeds are alive with Lesser Swamp, Little Rush and African Reed Warblers with the occasional Greater Reed and Sedge. African Purple Swamphen and Black Crake are fairly commonly seen but the African Rail is more difficult to locate. Little Bittern are regularly seen from the Otter and Flamingo hides. African Marsh Harriers are frequent and Western Marsh Harriers turn up from time to time. In winter Marsh Owls can be seen quartering the nearby farmland and grasslands. Marievale is renowned for the rarities than turn up on occasion, these include in recent years Slaty Egret, Baird's Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Yellow Wagtail. The best time to visit is early summer when the grass is short and the birds are breeding and during migration for the waders, but the reserve is always worth visiting at any time of the year.

Directions

From Johannesburg Airport take the R24 towards Johannesburg. Shortly after the R24 merges with the N12, branch left off onto the N3 south towards Heidelberg and Durban. Continue along the N3 for approximately 35 kilometers and take the R550 (R554) Nigel / Lenasia offramp, turning left towards Nigel at the offramp intersection. Continue along this road for approximately 20 kilometers until reaching the T-junction with the M63 where you turn right towards Nigel. Proceed through Nigel (the road becomes the R42 after the traffic light intersection with this road) and just after the Vorsterkroon industrial area turn left onto a side road signposted Marievale Bird Sanctuary (Union Carriage & Wagon Works are on the corner). After approximately 5 kilometers at a fork in the road, take the right gravel road and the reserve entrance is reached after a further 1 kilometer and a sharp bend to the right.

A second entrance to the reserve can be reached by continuing along the R42 towards Delmas. After crossing the Blesbokspruit River and passing several large pans on the left the entrance to the reserve is signposted to the left. Approximate travelling time from the airport 1 to 1.5 hours depending on traffic conditions and the time of day.

GPS Co-ordinates

Location Latitude Longitude
Main Entrance              S 26°21'47"     E 28°30'22"
Secondary Entrance S 26°23'06" E 28°30'61"

Facilities

The reserve contains a picnic spot with braai and ablution facilities. There are five hides over-looking the pans four of which have chemical toilets nearby.

Overnight accommodation is available at either Goldfields Lodge Hotel in Nigel or at the 2 chalets on the reserve, which can be booked through Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve.

Bird Hides

(Please visit the Bird Hide page for a description on the grading of the accessibility of the different Bird Hides).

Duiker Hide (Grade 2) is the first hide you will reach after entering the gate to the northern part of the reserve. It overlooks an area that in previous years had many mud banks suitable for waders and deeper water for stilts and other waterbirds. Unfortunately, due to the high water levels, this has now become more of a dam than a vlei and very few birds can be seen. Even so, it is a beautiful hide and with improved conditions the birds will quickly return to the area. The surface of the hide is cement based and smooth. Benches are not fixed and can be moved to make provision for wheelchair users. The viewing slots and shelves are at an acceptable height.
Co-ordinates: 26˚ 20' 43S 28˚ 30' 52EMarievale 1

Flamingo Hide (Grade 2) is located at the picnic spot and overlooks a vlei/dam where a number of waterbirds can be seen, as well as weavers, waders and swallows. Due to reed encroachment and high water levels, much of the habitat for waders has been lost. The floor of the hide consists of cement. Benches are fixed and the space between the benches is too narrow for a wheelchair. On the one side of the hide there are viewing slots with no benches and this can be used by a person in a wheelchair. Unfortunately from this viewpoint you will not be able to see the whole water body. There is no leg clearance.
Co-ordinates: 26˚ 21' 25S 28˚ 30' 55E

Hadeda Hide (Grade 1) is the first hide you reach after entering through the main gate. The hide has a wonderful view over a large area of water and many hours can be spend here watching waterbirds, weavers, warblers and sometimes even flamingos and elusive crakes. The parking area is on grass and a cement pathway leads to the hide making it easily accessible. The benches are fixed, but there is a space between the benches for a wheelchair but with very little leg space. The floor consists of cement and is smooth.

Otter Hide (Grade 3) is located on the main cause way that runs through the reserve. It is a smallish hide overlooking a body of water with lots of water birds, waders and other species. There is no parking area and cars need to park on the causeway that is also used by heavy vehicles like trucks. This is not ideal at all and can even be dangerous. A pathway consisting of paving leads to the hide which might create difficulties for people who are mobility impaired. The floor of the hide consists of cement and is level without hindrances. The benches are bolted to the cement floor and cannot be moved.
Co-ordinates: 26˚ 21' 32S 28˚ 30' 27EMarievale

Shelduck Hide (Grade 3) is the last hide that you will find on the road travelling through the reserve. Just as the Duiker Hide, it overlooks a large dam area with a low number of birds. This is also due to rising water levels. From the parking area a long pathway consists of gravel/stones leads to the hide. Due to rising water levels, the pathway is also becoming damp. This might change if water levels recede. The construction of the hide is the same as for this hides described above.
Co-ordinates: 26˚ 20' 17S 28˚ 30' 21E

Additional Information

Gate times:

Summer: 05H30 19H30
Winter: 06H30 18H00

Entrance Fees: None

Rondebult Nature Reserve

Rondebult Nature Reserve is located near Germiston. The reserve consists of a number of pans and vleis. The reserve mostly hosts waterbirds that can be viewed from the available hides. Unfortunately the condition of this reserve has deteriorated considerably during the last few years. This is mostly due to impacts from outside of the reserve, such as urbanisation, but also due to a lack of management. There is, for example, no control of exotic plant species at this reserve.

Bird HidesRonderbult

(Please visit the Bird Hide page for a description on the grading of the accessibility of the different Bird Hides).

On the positive side, the local municipality has upgraded the pathways in the reserve to paving and the parking area has also been upgraded. The pathways now link most of the seven hides (Grade 2) that's located along the northern and eastern boundaries of the sanctuary. The hides are easily reached on foot from the parking area. Shortly after the pedestrian gate the path splits – three hides lie to the right and four hides lie to the left. Due to security problems at the reserve, security gates have been installed inside the doors and the keys to the hides must however be obtained from the caretaker as all hides are locked.
Co-ordinates: 26˚ 17' 44S 28˚12' 39E

Additional information

  • Access is controlled by means of a manned security gate.
  • Gate time: 7:00 – 16:00 on weekdays; 7:00 – 18:00 on weekends
  • Toilets are located in the office building in the picnic area.
  • Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality Tel: +27 (0)11 874 6207

Directions

Travel south on the N3 from Johannesburg to Durban. Take the R554/R103 Heidelberg road (98 Germiston) offramp and turn left at the crossroads. Continue east towards Brakpan. Cross a railway bridge and turn right at the traffic light at the R53 towards Vosloorus. Immediately turn right onto a dirt road to reach the entrance.

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