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Bronkhorstspruit Dam Nature Reserve is a haven for waterfowl and the surrounding grassland attracts a number of interesting grassland endemics. Over 200 species have been recorded in the reserve and it is an excellent place to get to grips with some of the more common inland waders and grassland LBJ's. Visiting birders can expect to see some 70 species in a morning outing.

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Specials

Red-chested Flufftail, White-backed Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Orange River Francolin, Spike-heeled Lark and Red-capped Lark, Lesser Kestrel, Amur Falcon, Blue Korhaan, Caspian Tern, a variety of reed warblers, Wing-snapping Cisticola, Cloud Cisticola and Marsh Owl.

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Habitat

The centrepiece to the reserve is the large Bronkhorstspruit Dam itself and surrounding reedbeds. When the water level drops some areas of exposed muddy shoreline provide good wader habitat. Copses of exotic trees (mostly Eucalyptus) occur and grasslands make up the rest of the reserve.

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Facilities

The reserve is very popular with anglers, and an early start is recommended. Weekends and public holidays may be very busy. A relatively good dirt road runs from the entrance gate to the end of the dam, sometimes passing close to the shore and at other times going through the grasslands. There is a hide near the entrance gate and one can walk anywhere in the reserve. There are a number of camping sites along the shore, each with limited toilet facilities and a concrete braai area.

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Birding

Approaching the reserve, check the bridge area for Giant Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Greater Striped Swallow, White-throated Swallow, South African Cliff-Swallow, Little Egret and Hamerkop. This is a good area to spend half an hour waiting for waterbirds.

The next area to visit is the direct vicinity of the entrance gate. The exotic trees here are home to Bokmakierie, Fork-tailed Drongo and Red-throated Wryneck.

After paying the entrance fee at the gate, turn right and head down to the (currently dilapidated) hide. The hide itself is not particularly good for waterbirds, but the reedbeds are full of Southern Masked-Weaver, Cape Weaver and Southern Red Bishop in summer, and Little Rush-Warbler, African Reed-Warbler and Lesser Swamp-Warbler are not uncommon. The general vicinity of the hide is sometimes good for Red-chested Flufftail and White-backed Duck, and Little Bittern is spotted from time to time. Patches of aquatic and marginal vegetation occur all along the shoreline, and are well developed where smaller streams enter the dam or where there are shallow depressions. The reedbeds and sedge beds and the grassland adjacent to them are good for Yellow-crowned Bishop and White-winged Widowbird in summer. They are also around in winter but are a lot harder to identify in non-breeding plumage. Other species that are often seen in such habitats are Marsh Owl, Common Waxbill, Orange-breasted Waxbill and Levaillant's Cisticola.

It is sometimes possible to drive upstream to the south of the entrance gate on a series of tracks ' please check with the staff at the entrance gate whether road conditions allow this.

Waterbirds are common along the road parallel to the shoreline. In summer large numbers of Palearctic waders occur. Common Ringed Plover are present at times, and Kittlitz's Plover can be abundant when conditions are right. Others that are often found include Curlew Sandpiper, Three-banded Plover, Common Greenshank, Marsh Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Little Stint. Larger waterbirds often congregate either in rafts on the open water or in flocks on the shore. White-breasted Cormorant and Reed Cormorant are common and African Darter occur close to reeds or other cover. Grey-headed Gull are usually around and visitors should keep an eye open for Lesser Black-backed Gull in summer. White-winged Tern and Whiskered Tern are usually to be found and Caspian Tern visits in winter. Osprey is also sometimes sighted. Great Crested Grebe are unusually common on the water in-between the Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Egyptian Goose and Yellow-billed Duck. Herons are also common; look for Grey Heron, Purple Heron, Black-headed Heron, Cattle Egret, Squacco Heron, Little Bittern, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Great Egret, Yellow-billed Egret and the occasional Black Heron. Also to be seen on the exposed shoreline are African Quailfinch coming to drink.

The grassland areas are home to a range of interesting LBJ's. Cisticola are common and of the smaller ones, Zitting Cisticola, Cloud Cisticola, Wing-snapping Cisticola and Desert Cisticola can be identified by their species calls. Northern Black Korhaan and Swainson's Spurfowl have similar crowing calls and can be heard in the early morning. Blue Korhaan are recorded annually. Long-tailed Widowbird are conspicuous in summer and Crowned Lapwing, African Wattled Lapwing and Blacksmith Lapwing are abundant. Rufous-naped Lark, African Pipit, Cape Longclaw and Red-capped Lark are the most commonly confusing species, but Pink-billed Lark and Spike-heeled Lark, Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark and Lark-like Bunting are sometimes present.

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General

The reserve incorporates the southern section of the dam and the entrance is from the Bronkhorstspruit / Delmas about 40 minutes' drive from Pretoria. Take the N4 east and turn off at the Bronkhorstspruit / Delmas offramp. Turn right onto the R42 towards Delmas. After 3.8 km turn left to Delmas (R42). The entrance road to the reserve is found on the right after 13.7 km.

An entrance fee is payable at the gate.

Faansie Peacock 2007



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