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The 3200 ha Polokwane Nature Reserve is home to well over 200 species and it is possible to see over 70 species on a visit. The special of this reserve is the endemic Short-clawed Lark.

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Facilities

The reserve is open throughout the year and there is a picnic site with braai facilities, a guided hiking trail and a network of drives that cover all habitat types in the reserve.

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Birding

The Short-clawed Lark is usually found in the grassland around "Aloe Ridge", and at the crossroads near the Warthog picnic site.

One of the most prominent features of the reserve is an "Aloe forest" on a small koppie. This area is particularly rewarding for birds such as Southern Black Tit, Ashy Tit, Acacia Pied Barbet, Black-collared Barbet, Crested Barbet, Marico Flycatcher, Coqui Francolin, Natal Spurfowl, Marico Sunbird, Barred Wren-Warbler and Crimson-breasted Shrike are all common here.

The open grassland areas to the south support Northern Black Korhaan, a resident pair of Secretarybird, Short-clawed Lark and Rufous-naped Lark, Ant-eating Chat, Lilac-breasted Roller as well as Desert Cisticola and Zitting Cisticola.

The acacia woodland is good for the various cuckoos in summer, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Long-billed Crombec, Magpie Shrike, Brubru, Red-backed Shrike, various barbet species, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Cardinal Woodpecker, Violet-eared Waxbill and Black-faced Waxbill. The picnic site is excellent for White-browed Sparrow-Weaver, Red-throated Wryneck, Lesser Honeyguide, Scaly-feathered Finch, Black-headed Oriole, Arrow-marked Babbler and Kalahari Scrub-Robin.

Raptors and Accipiters are well represented with Verreauxs' Eagle (near the picnic site), Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Booted Eagle, Wahlberg's Eagle, Shikra and Cape Vulture are all frequently reported.

A recent newcomer to the reserve is the Red-billed Oxpecker. This species has avoided the Polokwane Plateau in the past and only occurred there as a vagrant. However, they appear to be doing well and all game, particularly giraffe and zebra, should be scanned for this species.

Suggested alternative Short-clawed Lark localities:

1. The turnoff to the Polokwane Nature Reserve.
2. Past the reserve entrance.
3. Along the R71 which skirts the SE part of Polokwane.
4. The granite outcrops on the way to Tzaneen (R71).
5. Before the entrance to Percy Fyfe Nature Reserve.
6. The Shell Ultra city just south of Polokwane.


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General

To reach the reserve, drive in a southerly direction in Dorp Street until the intersection with the Tzaneen/eastern by-pass (R71). Cross the intersection and drive approximately another 1km. The entrance to the reserve and to the Union Caravan and Camping site is on the right. A small entrance fee is charged. Contact tel 015-2902331.

Derek Engelbrecht 1997.



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