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Mondplaas Ponds is the name given to a series of pans on the Gamtoos River floodplain. This is one of the best birding spots near Port Elizabeth for water birds and the number and variety of birds seen depends on the amount of water present. Access is easy, but no facilities exist.

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Specials

African Jacana, Black Crake, Hottentot Teal, Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal, Fulvous Duck, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Little Bittern, Caspian Tern, Sandwich Tern, Whiskered Tern, African Marsh-Harrier and Cape Longclaw,

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Habitats

Perennial and seasonal pans, cultivated lands, planted pastures.

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Birding

1. The map shows three access roads - part of the system is also visible from the main road. African Rail is always present in the reed beds. African Jacana, Black Crake, Hottentot Teal and Black-crowned Night-Heron are permanent residents. Little Bittern are seen from time to time and courtship display has been seen. One of the pans (the only one which dries up totally at times is often used as a bathing and loafing place by Kelp Gull, Caspian Tern, Swift Tern and Sandwich Tern which move across from the ocean just over a kilometer away. The reed beds are also home to breeding Southern Red Bishop, Cape Weaver and Lesser Swamp-Warbler. Ducks always present include Cape Shoveler, Cape Teal and Yellow-billed Duck. In recent years both Fulvous Duck and White-faced Duck have been recorded. African Marsh-Harrier has been seen more frequently in recent years.

2. The ponds are surrounded by cultivated lands, planted pastures for dairy cattle. There is, however, very little natural bush present. Zitting Cisticola, Common Starling and African Pipit are common in this habitat. Crested Guineafowl, Crowned Lapwing and Cape Longclaw are also frequently seen. Birds of prey are infrequent visitors. Jackal Buzzard and Black-shouldered Kite are seen the most.

3. In summer Barn Swallow are plentiful and these are joined by White-throated Swallow. Other migrants included many waders such as Wood Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper and an occasional Common Sandpiper. White-winged Tern and Whiskered Tern may stay for shorter or longer periods, the length of stay depending on conditions. The Osprey has been recorded once.

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General

The ponds are just off the N2 highway about 50 km west of Port Elizabeth, some 30 km east of Humansdorp. Take the Mondplaas offramp and turn inland. Part of the ponds can be viewed from the barrier on the first left turn in the road. Local farmer's permission should be obtained if you wish to wander around the pans.

Dave Brown 1998.



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