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The Moreleta Kloof is a small (92 ha) natural area in the suburb of Moreleta Park, SE Pretoria. As an isolated oasis for some of the shyer species to be found in the Pretoria region, the kloof's amazing diversity of habitats hosts a range of interesting species. It is an excellent place for novice birders to come to grips with some of the commoner birds, while experienced twitchers will always find something interesting. Some 180 species have been recorded in this small area, and a summer morning outing may produce up to 80 species. A winter trip should produce around 50 species. In addition, a variety of habituated large mammals can also be seen at close quarters.

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Specials

Marsh Warbler, Little Rush-Warbler, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, and Garden Warbler, Fairy Flycatcher, Brown-backed Honeybird, Black-throated Canary, Jameson's Firefinch, African Firefinch, Red-chested Flufftail, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Desert Cisticola, Orange-breasted Waxbill.

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Habitats

The eastern section of the Kloof is dominated by a medium-sized wetland, where the topography flattens out to form a floodplain drained by the Rademeyer Spruit. The remainder of the Kloof is basically a narrow valley and the stream is flanked by mature riverine forest, while mixed thornveld grows on the southern hillsides, and protea woodland on the northern hillside. Isolated patches of broadleaved woodland, open grassland and exotic plantations are also to be found.

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Facilities

Secure parking is available at the entrance gate in Helios Street. A visit to the Moreleta Kloof could be combined with brunch at the highly recommended Rademeyer's Restaurant situated about 200m from the entrance gate. Toilets are available adjacent to the Rademeyer's Restaurant. The reserve is criss-crossed by three trails of varying length (map available at entrance gate).

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Birding

The birding section is divided into a detailed walk:

Starting at the main entrance gate the grasslands on your left and right and towards the spruit host Zitting Cisticola, Desert Cisticola, White-winged Widowbird, Red-collared Widowbird, Spotted Thick-knee, Crowned Lapwing, African Wattled Lapwing (look for chicks in spring), Greater Striped Swallow and White-rumped Swift. Take the trail leading off to the right immediately from the entrance gate which winds its way through some dense moist Acacia caffra woodland where Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Red-faced Mousebird, Crested Barbet, Black-collared Barbet, Brubru (rarely), Willow Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Southern Masked-Weaver and Cape White-eye can be found. Continue straight downwards through the gap in the trees towards the spruit.

If your visit is in summer you will be treated at the T-junction here with wonderful displays of various weavers, bishops and widows. Look for Thick-billed Weaver, Red-collared Widowbird and Cape Weaver. This area also hosts Marsh Owl, while African Grass-Owl has been spotted just a little downstream. Common Quail and Black-shouldered Kite sometimes occur.

Walk westwards parallel to the stream, keeping an eye open for Cape Grassbird (common throughout the reserve) and in summer, African Reed-Warbler. Turn right at the bridge over the stream (which is a good spot to look for Red-chested Flufftail, Little Rush-Warbler, Orange-breasted Waxbill and Great Reed-Warbler). Black-collared Barbet and Southern Grey-headed Sparrow nest in the dead branches around the bridge area. Turn left after crossing the bridge.

You are now entering an area of beautiful riverine forest with the dominant tree being Celtis africana. Hadeda Ibis and Red-eyed Dove breed in this patch. Fairy Flycatcher and Garden Warbler occur, the former in winter and the latter in summer. Garden Warbler is notoriously difficult birds to find because of their dense habitat, dull appearance and soft murmuring voice. They are often found near trees with small berries. Red-chested Cuckoo, Black Cuckoo and Diderick Cuckoo call loudly in early summer. Levaillant's Cisticola can also be seen from here. Steppe Buzzard and Ovambo Sparrowhawk might be seen overhead. Continue straight on the trail (bypassing two tracks leading off to the left) until you reach the dam. This area is good for Pied Kingfisher, Malachite Kingfisher, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Little Grebe, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, Common Waxbill, Reed Cormorant, African Black Duck and sometimes Little Egret or Green-backed Heron (depending on water level). Orange-breasted Waxbill roost in the reedbeds here at night.

From the dam, one can either walk further upstream into similar wooded habitat, or follow the 'Maintenance Road' trail back to the gate along the stream. Mixed woodland along the trail is a superb spot for Black Cuckooshrike, Golden-tailed Woodpecker, Cardinal Woodpecker, Marsh Warbler, Speckled Mousebird, Black-throated Canary, Jameson's Firefinch, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Cape Robin-Chat and Long-billed Crombec. To find the warblers, walk silently between December and early April, listening for a soft bill snap, and a low, growling "churrrr". They are much commoner than generally realized.

Open protea or broadleaved woodland is the best area for Black-crowned Tchagra, while Brown-backed Honeybird can really occur anywhere. Southern Boubou, Bar-throated Apalis and African Paradise-Flycatcher occupy the riverine forests. Cape Sparrow and Common Fiscal can be found in the grassland. Moreleta Kloof's rarities have included Bat Hawk, Little Sparrowhawk and Black Sparrowhawk.

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General

Access is only possible at the main gate in Helios Street, which is open from 06:00-18:00 (May-Aug) and 05:00-19:00 (Sept-Apr). For ladies, pensioners or younger birders walking in a group is safest, and also be aware that the introduced Ostriches can become aggressive when breeding!

From the N1 / N4 junction travel south and take the Rigel offramp. Turn left and then left again at the second robot into Hans Strijdom Drive. Continue past Denel on your left and then at the Lois Ave/ Rubenstein/Hans Strijdom crossing turn right towards Moreleta Park. Go down Rubenstein drive and through the dip. Moreleta Kloof is on your left. Take the first left after the dip (Helios) and drive down until you reach the main gate.

Visit the Friends of Moreleta Kloof Website for access information and notice of upcoming lectures or guided walks.

Faansie Peacock 2007



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