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Page History: Faan Meintjies Nature Reserve

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Page Revision: 2008/11/05 09:03


Faan Meintjies is situated 12 km from Klerksdorp. The 1000 Ha reserve includes low koppies, scattered acacia thorn trees and large areas of grassveld. There are also three seasonal dams. A 14km or 28km loop of well-maintained gravel roads offers access to all areas. There is a large picnic area and also three good quality chalets with an outstanding caravan park. The entry forms have a bird list printed on the rear. Depending on the time taken to identify the many LBJs, the reserve can be covered just comfortably in one day. Staying overnight would enable one to see the nocturnal birds and animals, as well as some very worthwhile localities within one or two hour’s drive.

Specials

South African Shelduck, Gabar Goshawk, Greater Kestrel, Burchell's Courser, Blackwinged Pratincole, Chestnutbacked Finchlark and Greybacked Finchlark, Melodious Lark, Eastern Clapper Lark, Eastern Longbilled Lark, Redbreasted Swallow, South African Cliff Swallow, Cape Penduline-Tit, Mountain Chat, Ant-eating Chat, Kalahari Robin, Grassveld Pipit, Longbilled Pipit, Buffy Pipit, Orangethroated Longclaw, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Bokmakierie, Malachite Sunbird, Great Sparrow, Scalyfeathered Finch, Violet-eared Waxbill. Nocturnal species include Spotted Eagle Owl, Barn Owl, Marsh Owl, Rufouscheeked Nightjar and Spotted Dikkop, and rarities include Pallid Harrier, Honey Buzzard and Slaty Egret.

Habitats

Habitats include open grassland, acacia thornveld, rocky koppies, dams and gardens.

Facilities

Facilities include a good network of gravel roads, accommodation and camping, and picnic sites.

Birding

1. Travelling from Klerksdorp, on the way out to the reserve there is an Engen Garage on the left. To the right is a road to Doornkruin. If you follow this (turning right to Doornkruin 1.4 km along this road), you reach Otto street. Turn left on this dead end gravel road and watch on the right for a strange coloured soil dumped there. (Coordinates S26 48.553 E26 40.79). In this soft soil Eurasian Bee-eater have burrowed nests and breed in summer. On the way back to the main road watch out for Fork-tailed Drongo. Follow the Dr. Yoosuf Dadoo road out of town. The road from Klerksorp to the reserve should be travelled slowly. Just out of town on the left is small low building. There is a Rufuos-naped Lark that displays on top of this each breeding season. To the right of the building new townhouses are being built but Melodious Lark is always present here when breeding. Of late a Yellow-billed Kite and Grey-headed Gull has been seen here as well. All along the telephone wires Black-shouldered Kite, Fiscal Shrike and Steppe Buzzard can be seen. About 4.5 kilometre along there is a low koppie to the right. Common Scimitarbill are seen here. Along the edge of the road there are many Blue Waxbill and the thorn trees have many White-Browed Sparrow-weaver. Also watch at each low culvert along the road where Red-breasted Swallow breed. Another two kilometre past the koppie is a lucerne field on the right, which has Hadeda Ibis and Abdim's Stork in summer. Just past this again is a seasonal stream, which has hundreds of breeding South African Cliff Swallow and White-rumped Swift. During wet years African Snipe give their wonderful displays with their tail feathers drumming. The next patch of thorn trees is an area for the Crimson-breasted Shrike. Also in this area Eastern Clapper Lark can be heard calling early morning. Watch for Swainson’s Francolin and Helmeted Guineafowl. The final stretch to the entrance has many Ant-eating Chat on the wire and Black-chested Prinia in the low shrubs. Later in the breeding season the road is also very good for Rock Bunting and Pin-tailed Whydah and Shaft-tailed Whydah.

2. At the entrance (Coordinates S26 44.198 E26 42.537), there is a resident Barn Owl in the thatched roof. The aloe at the office always has a breeding pair of Fiscal Flycatcher in summer. To the right of the office is a birdbath where many birds can be seen early in the morning – Common Scimitarbills, Cape Robin-Chat, Kalahari Robin, Chestnut-Vented Tit-babbler and all the finches including Violet-eared Waxbill. If the tap at the birdbath is closed, open it to let it drip and check this area out later in the day when the birds are looking for shade and water.

3. The koppies 500m to the right yield Mountain Chat, Mocking Cliff-Chat, African Firefinch lower down in the grass and Barn Owl. When the aloes flower there are Malachite Sunbird here. One kilometre past that, is the Caravan Park where Anteating Chat and Familiar Chat have become very tame. In the mornings Burchell’s Coucal and Cape Robin-chat call.

4. An old quarry is situated on a low koppie about 2 km further on the right. Here Grassveld Pipit, Longbilled Pipit and Buffy Pipit are found alongside Orange-throated Longclaw. Also seen here are the nomadic Chestnutbacked Finchlark and Greybacked Finchlark.

5. A large seasonal dam (Coordinates S26 44.212 E26 41.896) is about 1km past the quarry. African Spoonbill, Maccoa Duck and South African Shelduck arrive in summer along with many breeding Dabchick. The small bushes alongside have breeding Scalyfeathered Finch. During 2006 a Slaty Egret was seen here.

6. The road meanders through a flat grassy area for the following 8 kilometres. This is where most of the grassveld types can be found: Melodious Lark, Rufousnaped Lark, Eastern Clapper Lark, Sabota Lark, Eastern Longbilled Lark and Spikeheeled Lark. Fantailed Cisticola, Desert Cisticola, Cloud Cisticola, Northern Black Korhaans and Levaillant's Cisticola (next to the dam). During wet years there are hundreds of Common Quail and Harlequin Quail calling from the grass. Dryer years offer Doublebanded Courser and Burchell's Courser. Secretarybird stride around as well. Redbreasted Swallows breed under low culverts. During summer Blackwinged Pratincole are also seen. Keep a look out for Great Sparrow. This is a really outstanding place to see African Quailfinch. They are always along the road. Look for tiny birds that fly up as you drive along.

7. After this one reaches the picnic area. This has Brubru, Bokmakierie and Redthroated Wryneck. Also all three mousebirds species, Lesser Grey Shrike and Redbacked Shrike as well. Greater Honeyguide and Lesser Honeyguide can be heard calling.

8. From here you can cut back to the gate or continue past the picnic spot. The rest of the road (16 km) goes through a mixture of grassveld and low koppies with scattered thorn trees. Halfway through this an old windmill offers a breeding site for Pied Crows each year.

9. The area around the chalets and caravan park can be used at night to see the Spotted Eagle Owl as well as Barn Owl, Marsh Owl, Rufouscheeked Nightjar and Spotted Dikkop. A Cape Penduline Tit has bred near the chalets. Ashy Tit can be heard.

10. Raptors, migrant and nomadic species seen in the reserve are Pallid Harrier, Lanner Falcon, Greater Kestrel, Honey Buzzard, Gabar Goshawk, Redchested Cuckoo, Diederik Cuckoo, Great Spotted Cuckoo and Capped Wheatear. Grey Hornbill and Grey Lourie may also be seen at odd times.

11. Animals include Sable Antelope, Duiker, Steenbok, White Rhinoceros, Aardwolf and Aardvark.

Other sites within a day trip of the reserve:

1. The tar road continues past the reserve and leads to Eleazer and also to Potchefstroom (about 50km). This site as well as Prozesky and Boskop Dam are within an easy drive from the reserve along the road as described below. 10 km from the entrance the road becomes gravel. Just before this a small spruit crosses the road. Stop and look here for Levaillant’s Cisticola, Bokmakierie that often display in breeding time and many Red Bishop and Golden Bishop. To the right some way in is a stand of bluegums, which host Swallow-tailed Bee-eater. At the crossroads there is a huge farm dam on the left. (Coordinates S26 39.781 E26 45.846). Please phone Mr. Cronje 0827823820 for permission to go onto his farm. When the dam is not too full, there are extensive muddy areas where waders are abundant. African Spoonbill, Avocet, Little Stint, Common Sandpiper, Red Knobbed Coot, Moorhen, Dabchick, Greater Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Maccoa Duck, Cape Shoveller, Yellow-billed Duck, Egyptian Geese, Spurwinged Geese, Black-winged Stilt, Wood Sandpiper etc. are all here, as well as Levaillant’s Cisticola and Stonechat. Specials that are regular are the flocks of Blackwinged Pratincole. A further 10km along the road to Eleazer, there is a shallow pan to the left. Although quite a distance from the road, there are many African Spoonbill, White-winged Tern and Whiskered Tern, and this is also good for Blackwinged Pratincole.

2. Another round trip would be from the reserve gate and again towards Eleazer. 6.5km from the gate turn left on the road to Brakspruit. Just to the left are low koppies. Go early evening when it is warm and play the call of the Rufuos-cheeked Nightjar. Then close your windows as it will easily fly into the car! All along this road there are many breeding Cisticolas, Larks and Pipits. Listen for the various display calls of the males.

3. At Brakspruit turn right and follow the Ventersdorp road for 32 km. to the Ratzegaai turnoff. Turn left for about 15 km and turn in at the second farm board reading Kotze. Please phone Dries Kotze beforehand for permission to visit (0845122104). He is a keen birder and has wonderful birding on his farm. Specials here are White-backed Vulture, Cape and Vulture and Lappet-faced Vultures at his vulture feeding site. During summer Yellow Wagtail are found amongst his cattle. The runoff from his pig farm is specially treated at a sewage plant and attracts all the waders and birds found at an area like this. This is worth a days visit on its own.

4. Follow the tarred road back to Klerksdorp. 12km along this road to the right is Klerksdorp dam. This also has many of the usual wetland birds, but special are the Lesser Flamingo which arrive in their hundreds when the dam’s salinity is correct. When finished here, travel on to Klerksdorp and at the first traffic light turn right. Travel along this road for about 8.5km, and stop at the Schoonspruit bridge just before a four-way crossing (co-ordinates S26 56.088 E26 39.845). Park and watch from the bridge. Along this stretch of spruit there are often Green-backed Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, Reed Cormorant and White-rumped Swift. Turn right at the four-way stop and travel to Orkney. Keep straight through the lower part of Orkney till the double road becomes single lane. Turn right at Smollet Road and then left again at Hemmingway Drive. Just to the right will be an old signboard reading “No Entry” Follow the track to the left of the fence to the old Orkney Bird Park. (co-ordinates S27 00.462 E26 40.717). It is a wonderful birding area and very special for warblers. This is all along the Vaal River. Beware - do not bird alone in this area when it is getting dark. The riverine forest has many breeding birds. Village Indigobird, Lesser Honeyguide, Greater Honeyguide, Brown-backed Honeyguide, Black-collared Barbet, Pied Barbet, Crested Barbet, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Little Rush Warbler, Lesser Swamp-warbler, Brown-throated Martin, Sedge Warbler, Spotted Eagle-Owl, White-rumped Swift, African Reed-warbler, Marsh Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Willow Warbler, Garden Warbler, Icterine Warbler, African Fish Eagle, White-breasted Cormorant, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Long-tailed Widowbird, African Jacana and Little Bittern. There are breeding Cardinal Woodpecker and Golden-tailed Woodpecker. Along the river Black Stork have also been seen but are uncommon.

5. On the way back to Klerksdorp, as you leave the bird park, follow Hemmingway Drive to Scott Avenue. This takes one back along the Orkney Golf Course. A special here is Red-throated Wryneck, which can be seen by playing its call. Follow Scott Avenue till it joins Sheridan Avenue. This in turn takes you to the R30. Turn left and drive straight back to Klerksdorp, not turning off at the four-way stop along the Orkney – Klerksdorp road. Watch for Bishop Ndwandwe Road at the Checkers shopping centre. Turn left and go to the Klerksdorp Golf Club. (Coordinates R26 52.546 E26 39.357). The Schoonspruit runs through the course and is good for birding. Half-collared Kingfisher, Purple Heron, Little Egret, Great Egret and Pied Kingfisher, Blacksmith Plover and Crowned Plover are here. Often heard are Greater Honeyguide and Lesser Honeyguide. To the left of the 10th hole is a stand of blue gums. A large family of Spotted Eagle-Owl are here and often have juveniles with them. They sit tight against the trunks so look carefully. Follow the spruit on both sides of the course, as there are numerous birds to be seen. One can then either return to Faan Meintjies by returning to the R30 and turning left. Follow the road for 3 km to Dr Yoosuf Dadoo road, follow this road to the reserve. Or after turning left on the R30, turn off right Noord street (1.4 km after turning left into the R30) and follow the signboards to the PC Pelser Airfield. Here there are breeding Pied Starling in the first hangar on the left. Inside the airfield there are numerous Capped Wheatear and Northern Black Korhaan. Also many breeding Cisticolas and Pipits.

General

The road to the reserve is well signposted at all entrances to Klerksdorp. Entry is from 7am till 4pm. Residents in the chalets and caravan park may move around the park at any time. An entry fee is payable. The telephone number for the park is 018 4625700. The ranger’s name is Giel. He has a beautiful garden and one could arrange with him to bird there. Ameythist Sunbird is regular, as well as Bokmakierie, Ashy Tit, and breeding Cape Glossy Starlings.

Tony Archer 2007.



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