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Page History: Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary

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Page Revision: 2008/10/10 09:16


The Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary was established in 1958 and offers visitors a good opportunity to see some of the more common birds up close. The sanctuary is situated in Muckleneuk, and is a great place for a Sunday afternoon family outing or a short tranquil walk. Around 170 species have been recorded and birders will see around 40 species in a short morning visit. The main attraction is the dam where an excellent hide is situated. There are also woodland patches and exotic trees in the sanctuary. The Blue Crane restaurant and adjacent trim and recreational park offers further attraction.

Please note that the sanctuary area has a perimeter fence and one must view the birds from outside this fence. Some birders have been disappointed by the lack of access and limited birding opportunities. Ed.

Birding

The first area that visitors should investigate, is the area around the Blue Crane restaurant and the dam. Good views of the dam and adjacent reedbeds can be obtained from anywhere along the perimeter fence and from the top deck of the restaurant. A bird feeding area (food available from the restaurant) attracts Blue Crane and Grey Crowned Crane which were originally kept in the area by having their wings clipped regularly. However, they now move around in the recreational park and sometimes fly around over the sanctuary. Be sure to warn small children about the crane's sharp beaks! Doves and Pigeons are also common, Rock Dove, Speckled Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Red-eyed Dove and Cape Turtle-Dove being abundant. Egyptian Goose also join the feeding frenzy and catfish gratefully gobble up morsels fed to them. Also easily spotted here are Reed Cormorant, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, Cattle Egret, African Sacred Ibis, Hadeda Ibis, Pied Kingfisher and sometimes something more exciting like a Little Bittern or Green-backed Heron.

Advance to the bird hide. The building on your left used to have an excellent exhibition on the movements of larger waterbirds around Pretoria, but the building is locked at the time of writing and a lot of refurbishing work is currently underway all over the sanctuary. The Sasol Hadeda Hide offers excellent views of the abovementioned waterbirds. In summer, you will also be treated to the delightful sight of colonies of Southern Masked-Weaver and Thick-billed Weaver and Southern Red Bishop breeding in front of the hide. Also keep an eye open for the less conspicuous warblers – African Reed-Warbler, Little Rush-Warbler and Lesser Swamp-Warbler are the commonest species, and Marsh Warbler and Willow Warbler are also to be seen in summer. Black-crowned Night-Heron might be seen roosting in the surrounding trees.

Birders with a little more time on their hands might wish to walk the two kilometres or so along the perimeter fence. Apart from sightings of Grey Duiker and Leopard Tortoise, you should find a plethora of the commoner garden birds. Look for Streaky-headed Seedeater, Black-throated Canary, Bronze Mannikin, Common Waxbill, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, African Hoopoe, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Cape Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush, Red-faced Mousebird, Speckled Mousebird, Common Fiscal, Cape White-eye, Burchell's Coucal, Black-collared Barbet and Crested Barbet, and a variety of swifts and swallows in the skies.

General

The easiest way to reach the sanctuary is probably to start at the Fountain Circle near Unisa. Take George Storrar Drive towards Groenkloof. Storrar becomes Middle Street and take the left turn into Melk Street after passing Koningen Wilhelmina Avenue. You should reach the main entrance at the Blue Crane restaurant where the best viewpoints (and secure parking) is to be found. The sanctuary is surrounded by Middel, Dey, Boshoff and Melk Streets. Visiting Hours Summer ( September - April): 07:00 - 18:00 Winter ( May - August): 07:00 - 17:00

Bookings are only necessary for the guided walks - preferably 4 weeks in advance.

Contact information: Tel: 012 440 8316 / 012 341 0591 Fax: 012 341 0483 Email: davidb@tshwane.gov.za or audreyb@tshwane.gov.za

Website: http://www.tshwane.gov.za

Faansie Peacock 2001



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