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Barberspan and environs

Modified: 2008/10/09 08:41 by admin - Categorized as: North-West Province
Barberspan is in the south-east of the Northwest Province, near the towns of Sannieshof in the east and Delareyville in the west. Since most of the birding is done on private land, you must get permission from farmers before you enter farms. Permission can also be obtained from the Nature Conservation Officer at Barbers Pan to enter the conservation areas where the public is not allowed.



Habitats around Barbers Pan consist mainly of wide open grassveld interspersed with mixed acacia. Barbers Pan, with the adjacent Leeu Pan, are two of several pans in the area. Although Leeu Pan dries up during dry years, Barbers Pan and some of the other pans have water throughout the year. The clumps of acacia consist mainly of Sweetthorn (Acacia karoo) and Camelthorn (Acacia erioloba), plus the occasional White Stinkwood (Celtis africana) and Karee (Rhus lancia). The grassveld is short to very short. There are several vleis and waterholes where the Harts River dissects the area from east to west. The area is so flat that the Harts River pushes its water into Barbers Pan after good rains and water from the pan sometimes flows into the river. The areas where the sandy soils are dominant are used for maize farming and the areas with hard and rocky soils are used for grazing.



Specials include waders and water birds at the pan itself. Because of the aridity of the region, many birds flock to the pans. The pans are also major stopover points for migrating waders and several of the rarer species occasionally turn up at Barbers Pan. The surrounding short grassveld is the ideal habitat for larks and pipits, coursers and korhaans and several raptor species. Some of the species of the dry west are often seen out here, including Fawn-coloured Lark, Grey-backed Sparrowlark, Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark, four species of pipit, Double-banded Courser, Temminck's Courser and Burchell's Courser, the occasional White-bellied Korhaan, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Ashy Tit, Osprey, Pink-backed Pelican, Great White Pelican, Great Crested Grebe, thousands of Red-knobbed Coot, Common Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit. The easternmost nesting site for Sociable Weaver also occurs here.



The Wesvaal Bird Club and the Dutch Government have built a portable hide that can be moved around to good birding spots. The present ranger there, Sampie van der Merwe will be able to tell birders where the hide is. Another new development is that the old ornithological research station is now open to anyone who wants to do bird related research there. The laboratories are fully equipped and two research assistants are still on the reserve, ready to work. The buildings are also available for birders to stay in at a small donation. This can also be arranged with Sampie.



The best times to visit Barbers Pan and environment is September-October and March-April. There is a distinct difference between the birds of wet and dry years.

1. The Barbers Pan Nature Reserve: Located on the shores of Barbers Pan. From the hotel, drive back to the Leeu Pan dirt road. Turn left and drive north about two kilos. Turn left into the reserve at the Bluegums and the ranger's house. Drive down to the water and walk along the shore. Another two kilos on the Leeu Pan road will bring you to the entrance of the old Ornithological Research Station. Just before you reach the station, you cross a stream. Look out for Greater Painted-snipe, African Snipe and Lesser Moorhen. Drive down to the water and walk along the shores. A telescope always comes in very handy. While driving, keep an eye out for larks, pipits, chats and coursers. It is best to visit the first location in the mornings and the second location in the afternoon, thus keeping your back to the sun. Take precautions against mosquitoes, biting gnats and the sun. Another good place to visit is the area between the hotel and the mouth of the Harts river. You can reach it by either walking from the hotel or by driving towards Delareyville. Just before you cross the Harts river at the point where the steel girded train bridge is, turn north into the reserve. Drive down to the water's edge and keep your eyes peeled for breeding plovers: White-fronted Plover, Chestnut-banded Plover, Kittlitz's Plover, Three-banded Plover, Caspian Plover and Grey Plover are often seen here. Caspian Tern and other terns are also seen in this area.

2. Circular route through the area: This route is ideal for a day or half day trip. All the birding can be done from the road. Temperatures can be extremely high in summer. Start at the hotel and turn right on the Leeu Pan road. Go past the two entrances to the reserve and take the next turn to the left between Barbers Pan and Leeu Pan. The huge flocks of Lesser Flamingo and Greater Flamingo on Leeu Pan are spectacular. Stop on this road, before you hit the bottom of the hill and play the call of the Rufous-eared Warbler. They are in the shrubs on the left-hand side of the road. Follow this road for four kilos and turn right at the T junction. Follow this road back to the main road between Sannieshof and Delareyville (R47). Turn left towards Sannieshof for one and a half kilometers, over the river and turn right over the railway line onto a dirt road. Look out for finchlarks on this road, as well as Pink-billed Lark and Red-capped Lark. Blue Crane are often seen on the fallow maize fields. Pallid Harrier and Montagu's Harrier have been seen over the vleis where the road crosses the Harts river after 3km. Go straight on this road for 8km, all the time looking for larks, pipits and coursers. Stop at the occasional clump of trees and walk around. Turn left on the tarred road at the T-junction. Two or three kilos down this road is a farmhouse on the right. There are several Sociable Weaver nests in the Camelthorns around the house. Ask the farmer permission to view the nest from up close. Stay on the tarred road for 5km and turn left just before you cross the Klein Harts River. Stay next to the river for 5km. This is the ideal spot for all three coursers, as well as larks and pipits. Stop at the drinking troughs, dams and windmills on the way and scrutinize the birds coming in to drink. After 5km you turn away from the river. There are several lanes of huge Bluegums on this road. This is where the differences between Blue-cheeked Bee-eater and European Bee-eater can be studied at leisure. Amur Falcon and the rare Red-footed Falcon are often seen on the power lines and at the Bluegums. Turn right at the T-junction after 4km, cross the Harts River and you will be back on the road towards Barbers Pan. Cross the railway line and turn right on the Delareyville-Sannieshof road towards Sannieshof. The turnoff to the hotel is after 1.5km. The slower you go on this route, the more birds will be seen. Take your time to study the birds, use your identification keys and you will not be disappointed.


Other Pans

Just outside Delareyville, on the road to Ottosdal, are two pans where waders and plovers can be studied. On the road between Delareyville and Geysdorp are several permanent pans that can be seen from the road. If you go north from the hotel on the Leeu Pan road, you will reach an area where there are several pans on the left-hand side of the road. Get permission from the farmers if you want to get closer to the pans.



Accommodation is available in the area.

Babers Pan Bird Sactuary
Contact: Ms Gloria Letlonkane
Tel: +27 53 948 1854
Fax: +27 53 948 0101
Cell: +27 82 443 9777

North West Tourism Website

To reach Barberspan take any number of routes to Delareyville. The pans are located 17 km north west of Delareyville on the N14 to Sannieshof, 307 km from Johannesburg or an easy 3 hour drive.

Tariffs: Adults R10,00

Sam de Beer 2001.

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