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Situated between Middelburg and Belfast, these shallow pans offer a good selection of typical Highveld waterbirds. Their close proximity to the main N4 highway means they are a worthwhile stop on a trip through to the Kruger Park, increasing the potential number of species which could be seen on such a trip.

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Specials

Greater Flamingo, White-backed Duck, Maccoa Duck, Cape Shoveler, African Marsh-Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Black-necked Grebe, Chestnut-banded Plover and African Grass-Owl

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Habitats

The pans are situated in Highveld grassland, much of which has been transformed by agriculture. Remnants of grassland are protected in moist, marshy drainage lines.

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Directions

Continue on the N4 highway from Middelburg towards Belfast. About 45 km out of Middelburg, at one of the few places where the highway has a row of lights between the two carriageways, take a right turn onto the Wonderfontein road (also signposted as "Carolina"). Head south on this road for about 10 km, and just beyond a sing reading "Klip Pan" is the first and largest of the three pans. The other two pans are a few hundred metres further down the road.

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Birding

A good selection of Highveld waterbirds can be seen. The first and largest pan is usually the spot for Greater Flamingo, but apart from large roosts of Spur-winged Goose, Egyptian Goose and other waterfowl, there is not too much of variety. This is also the least accessible of the pans. Pan 2, on the left-hand side of the road, usually has good numbers of Red-knobbed Coot and Little Grebe, and a few Black-necked Grebe and Great Crested Grebe, Maccoa Duck, Glossy Ibis, Whiskered Tern, White-winged Tern, Grey-headed Gull and the occasional African Marsh-Harrier. Montagu's Harrier also quarter the adjacent grasslands in summer, and Pallid Harrier will surely one day turn up as well. Pan 3 is usually the busiest of the three, having a number of waterfowl such as Cape Shoveler, Red-billed Teal, Southern Pochard, White-backed Duck, South African Shelduck, and wading birds such as African Spoonbill, Squacco Heron, Great Egret and Yellow-billed Egret, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Marsh Sandpiper, Common Greenshank, Kittlitz's Plover, Three-banded Plover and the occasional Chestnut-banded Plover. Brown-throated Martin and Banded Martin forage over the pans and adjacent grassland. The marshy grasslands around Pan 2 have Yellow-crowned Bishop, Southern Red Bishop, Fan-tailed Widowbird, African Quailfinch, Levaillant's Cisticola and occasionally small flocks of Orange-breasted Waxbill. Also look out for Marsh Owl and the very occasional African Grass-Owl here.

Warren McClelland 2001.

Komati Gorge Lodge
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