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This nature reserve is one of Gauteng’s best kept secrets, with around 270 bird species recorded. Diepsloot Nature Reserve, which is about 1600 hectares in size, was proclaimed as a nature reserve in 1960 as a green belt around the northern Wastewater Treatment Works. The part of the reserve that is most visited is the northern section, more commonly known as northern Farm.

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Specials

Resident birds include Black-crowned Night-Heron, Great Crested Grebe, Goliath Heron, Little Bittern, Cape Longclaw, Red-capped Lark, African Fish-Eagle, Long-crested Eagle, Ovambo Sparrowhawk, Black Sparrowhawk, African Purple Swamphen, Green-backed Heron, African Black Duck, African Spoonbill, African Snipe,African Rail, Red-chested Flufftail, Cape Grassbird and Comb Duck, African Grass-Owl, and Dark-capped Yellow Warbler. Cuckoo Finch is recorded occasionally. There are also several species present that are difficult to find in urban Johannesburg, including Cape Crow, Marsh Owl, Arrow-marked Babbler, Kurrichane Thrush, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Giant Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher and Half-collared Kingfisher. Summer migrants include Yellow Wagtail, Common House-Martin, Sedge Warbler, Great Reed-Warbler, Diderick Cuckoo, African Paradise-Flycatcher, Amur Falcon, and Steppe Buzzard.

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Habitats

The reserve has abroad mix of highveld habitats. It includes grassland areas which are heavily grazed by cattle, reedbeds and grassland areas, agricultural fields, and cattle kraals. The wetland habitat is represented by farm dams and irrigation canals, with riverine vegetation along the Jukskei river. There are stands of exotic trees, particularly poplars, throughout the reserve, which providing breeding habitat for a number of raptor species.

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Facilities

At the entrance there is a picnic area with lapa and braais, and an education centre. Currently there is one hide at one of the large dams with more being planned. The dirt road network is comprehensive and has routes that cover all the dams and habitats in the reserve. It is advisable to obtain a map when you purchase your entrance ticket.

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Birding

Early morning birding is recommended in summer, as summers are generally too hot for birding at midday. In winter a later arrival with a longer stay is recommended. Optimal times of the year for birding are autumn and early summer with the arrival or departure of migrants.

1. The dams and reed areas provide excellent birding all year round. It is advisable to bring a scope, as several of the dams have visible mixed heronries and raptor nests. These areas have high densities of Southern Red Bishop, Southern Masked-Weaver, Egyptian Goose, Yellow-billed Duck, Spur-winged Goose, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard, Red-knobbed Coot, Common Moorhen, Reed Cormorant and White-breasted Cormorant, and Little Grebe, to name a few. The reed areas should produce Black Crake, African Purple Swamphen, Purple Heron, Little Bittern (both races), Goliath Heron, Common Waxbill, Orange-breasted Waxbill, and a variety of warblers dependent on the season, including Great Reed-Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, and Little Rush-Warbler.

2. In summer, the grassland and cattle kraal areas often have Yellow Wagtail, Amur Falcon, Greater Kestrel and Lesser Kestrel, African Pipit, Pied Starling, Cape Longclaw, Cape Grassbird and both Red-capped Lark and Rufous-naped Lark. Nomadic birds like the Capped Wheatear are seen regularly, and numbers of Long-tailed Widowbird and White-winged Widowbird can be expected.

3. Hirundines are well represented, and in summer up to 8 species can be found, including South African Cliff-Swallow, Common Ostrich and Sand Martin.

4. The reserve is known for its raptors with Long-crested Eagle, Black Sparrowhawk and Ovambo Sparrowhawk breeding in the extensive poplar stands, while Black-chested Snake-Eagle and Lanner Falcon are also observed frequently. Specials such as Osprey, African Marsh-Harrier, and Black Kite are also known to occur, and European Honey-Buzzard is recorded annually. This is the only known locality in the greater Johannesburg area where African Fish-Eagle breeds regularly.

5. The remnant woodland areas with Rhus and acacia species are excellent for resident Fiscal Flycatcher, as well as migratory Fairy Flycatcher. Willow Warbler, Cardinal Woodpecker, Arrow-marked Babbler, and Green Wood-Hoopoe are commonly seen in the woodland areas, especially alongside the Jukskei river. Birds that are often seen in a variety of habitats include Bronze Mannikin, Tawny-flanked Prinia, Common Waxbill, African Stonechat, Cape White-eye and Kurrichane Thrush.

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General

This reserve is approximately 45 minutes from Johannesburg International Airport and about 30minutes from central Pretoria. The best access is off the N1 at the R511William Nicol turnoff. You head north towards the Fourways Shopping Centre, turn left onto the R564 Witkoppen Road, and right into Cedar Road. Travel approximately 11 kilometres until you reach a T-Junction, turn right onto theR114 and travel for approximately 6-8 km before you see a dirt road and the entrance to northern Farm on your left. It is not well sign-posted so keep an eye open for the entrance on the left.

Entrance tickets are R12 per person (or R120 for 20 entries), with tickets purchased from SATrails, situated 2.7km from the entrance towards the T-junction with Cedar Road.

Open times:
06h30to 17h30 - 1 April to 31 August
06h00 to 18h00 - 1 September to 31 March.

For more information contact André Marx, Cell: +27 83 411 7674, .

Nothern Farm Website



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