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Rondebult is an easily accessible wetland for residents and visitors to Gauteng, with a reputation for excellent birding. There are eight hides situated on three large pans with accessible viewing. Of the 190 odd species recorded, 60 are breeding species and 30 are migrants.

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Specials

Black-crowned Night-Heron, Little Bittern, Greater Flamingo, Maccoa Duck, African Snipe, African Wattled Lapwing, Marsh Owl, Great Reed-Warbler, Yellow Wagtail and Orange-breasted Waxbill. Large numbers of migrant waders gather in autumn.

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Habitats

The sanctuary has a broad mix of habitats, including grassland, marshland, reedbeds and three dams. In addition there are stands of Weeping willow that run along the fence line.

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Birding

1. General. Throughout the sanctuary there are patches of grassland that overlap with the reedbeds and marshland. Species include Black-headed Heron, Cattle Egret, Black-shouldered Kite, Crowned Lapwing, African Wattled Lapwing, Blacksmith Lapwing, Rock Dove, Cape Turtle-Dove, Laughing Dove, Red-eyed Dove, Marsh Owl (occasionally during the day in winter), African Stonechat, Zitting Cisticola, Cloud Cisticola, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Common Fiscal, Yellow Wagtail (short grass sections), Cape Glossy Starling, Cape Longclaw, Capped Wheatear, and Red-capped Lark. Southern Boubou and Cape Robin-Chat are often seen in the well-established undergrowth.

2. Pan One (with Hides One and Two). On walking directly straight from the parking area through the entrance and past the recreational centre you see directly in front of you hide one, which overlooks the first pan. The second hide can found along a path that cuts off the main path to the third hide. This path winds through a mix of reedbeds, grassland and mash area. It is often a good walk for Orange-breasted Waxbill, Levaillant's Cisticola, Southern Red Bishop and African Reed-Warbler. The second hide has a wider view and looks on to the deeper sections of the pool. You can expect to see more ducks, coots and moorhens here. The edges of the reeds often expose Green-backed Heron, Little Bittern, African Purple Swamphen, Black Crake and a variety of resident as well as migratory warblers.

Birds of that are seen regularly include African Snipe, Sedge Warbler, Great Reed-Warbler and of course the prolific Common Moorhen, Red-knobbed Coot, Yellow-billed Duck, Pied Avocet and Black-winged Stilt. Further birds to be seen include Hottentot Teal, Red-billed Teal, Cape Shoveler, Maccoa Duck, Black Crake, Southern Red Bishop, Blacksmith Lapwing, and many others like the Diderick Cuckoo parasitising the abundant Southern Masked-Weaver. Glossy Ibis, African Sacred Ibis and Hadeda Ibis are often seen feeding alongside each other.

In summers this pool supports large numbers of palearctic migrants and it is often advisable to bring a scope for some of the trickier aspects of species identification. Species include Ruff, Common Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stint.

In winter the pool often dries up and one can expect to see birds like African Stonechat, Cape Wagtail, Common Waxbill, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Common Fiscal and numerous dove species as well as the plovers. The reed edges still support their usual residents like the Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Levaillant's Cisticola and Little Rush-Warbler.

3. Pool Two (with hides 3-7). This pan is close to the parking area and on entering through the gate the hides are found beginning on your right, with the rest found on long the path that runs alongside the fence in a straight line. This pan has large reedbeds as well as overhanging trees. The Black-crowned Night-Heron are often seen here, as well as Purple Heron, Green-backed Heron (often engaged in their famous ‘bait fishing’ behaviour), Black Heron, Little Egret and even Cattle Egret. This area is a definite spot for the migratory Willow Warbler, which is often seen in trees that line the pathway and fence line. Birds that are seen abundantly include Maccoa Duck, Red-knobbed Coot, White-faced Duck, Fulvous Duck, Southern Pochard, Hottentot Teal, Red-billed Teal, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Great Reed-Warbler, Little Rush-Warbler, Greater Flamingo (seen often but highly mobile), Southern Red Bishop, Yellow-fronted Canary, Black-throated Canary, Common Waxbill and Orange-breasted Waxbill.

4. Pool 3 (Hide 8). This area is excellent for Black Crake, African Rail and other skulking species. During summers it is highly recommended for migratory African Reed-Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Great Reed-Warbler.

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Facilities

The wetland is well maintained with secure parking, toilet and basic picnic facilities and full-time security controlling access into the facility. The Wildlife Society has use of the offices and there is a basic educational display in the main recreational building, which also houses the toilets. The hides are comfortable and well maintained with good seating and are definitely photography friendly. Most of the hides can support between 6-8 people sitting side-by-side. For larger groups it is recommended that birders split up into smaller parties and circulate through the various hides.

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General

Rondebult is a short drive (approx. 25 minutes) from Johannesburg International Airport and within an hours drive from Pretoria. The sanctuary is open daily throughout the year from 07h00 to 17h00 and is found by heading south from Johannesburg on the N3 highway. The sanctuary is well signed posted and after turning left at the R103/R554 (Heidelberg / Alberton road) off-ramp and the sanctuary is on the right hand side of the road after approximately 9 km. The entrance is directly opposite the junction with the R554 and Forsdick road.

Ashwell Glasson 2001.



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