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The Seringveld Conservancy, registered in 1997, includes some of the finest stands of broad-leafed woodland in Gauteng and boasts a requisite array of specials.

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Specials

Stands of tall Boekenhout, Burkea and Terminalia trees hold the gems of this area, namely Tinkling Cisticola, Green-capped Eremomela, Yellow-bellied Eremomela. Pale Flycatcher, Flappet Lark, Fawn-coloured Lark, Bushveld Pipit, Brown-backed Honeybird and African Cuckoo Hawk are also regularly encountered.

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Habitats

The predominant habitat is broad-leafed woodland on sour veld, dominated by Boekenhout, Burkea (Wild Syringa) and Terminalia (Silver Clusterleaf). Several rocky ridges traverse the area, as do the Boekenhoutskloof- and Krokodilspruits, both of which have some vleis and small irrigation dams along their courses. Some patches of mixed acacia woodland are also found in the area, as well as fragments of natural grassland and old cultivated lands. The environment is largely unspoiled, although some sand quarries and cultivated lands are encountered and alien vegetation is problematic along the watercourses.

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Facilities

All of the land in the conservancy is privately owned and much is uninhabited. Birding is therefore confined to along the roadsides and properties for which access has been arranged. On the other hand, landowners are generally very well disposed to birders and are very accommodating. Roads within the area are generally poor although passable with sedan vehicles. The advantage is that these roads tend to be very quiet and are generally conducive to pleasant birding.

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Birding

While the conservancy boasts a list of some 260-odd species, a visitor to the area may expect to find between 100 and 150 species in a day if all habitats are visited. Priority areas are the broad-leafed woodland in the central parts of the conservancy, particularly those along Rinkhals and Mambaweg. This is where one has the best chance of ticking the area’s specials, plus a range of other species such as the very vocal but shy Coqui Francolin, large raptors such as African Hawk-Eagle, Black-chested Snake-Eagle and Brown Snake-Eagle, Ovambo Sparrowhawk and Lizard Buzzard, African Cuckoo in spring, Black Cuckooshrike, Yellow-throated Petronia and Red-headed Weaver. Striped Kingfisher, Black-crowned Tchagra, Yellow-rumped Tinkerbird, Brubru and Pearl-breasted Swallow are virtually guaranteed at any time of year.

The Krokodilspruit has several good reedbeds and shallow pans along its course. Red-chested Flufftail are commonly heard, Southern Masked-Weaver, Village Weaver and Cape Weaver nest in the reedbed where Mambaweg crosses the spruit next to the Sandra Maria group facility. Cape Grassbird are found in the rank vegetation in the upper reaches of the valley. Comb Duck and White-backed Duck may be found in the pans just southeast of the R573, and a colony of South African Cliff-Swallow roosts under the bridge at this spot. The Boekenhoutskloofspruit is home to Giant Kingfisher and the occasional Half-collared Kingfisher. Purple Heron, African Purple Swamphen, Little Bittern, Black Crake and African Jacana frequent the dam where the river crosses the R573.

Kloof shop and the bush at the foot of the rocky crags behind it are good for a range of species, notably Striped Pipit, Lazy Cisticola and Mocking Cliff-Chat. Storeowner Piet Rademan will readily allow access. Traffic noise from the KwaMhlanga road does tend to spoil the ambience at busy times, however.

The northern part of the conservancy is also dominated by Burkea and Boekenhout woodland on sandy soils, and shares many of the species mentioned above. On rocky ground Cape Rock-Thrush and Short-toed Rock-Thrush can be expected, whilst Shelley's Francolin call in the early mornings but can be difficult to locate. Adams Arms has an active bird table in the garden, plus a Brown Snake-Eagle which regularly perches on the cell phone tower.

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General

The conservancy is reached by taking the Zambezi Drive offramp off the N1, turning right towards Cullinan (R513), and then left at the Kameelfontein turning. This brings you to the eastern reaches of Roodeplaat Dam, which is worth a stop to scan around for waterbirds. The Seringveld proper begins some 6 or 7km further on, at the “Bynespoort” turnoff.

Little established tourism infrastructure exists within the Conservancy.

Further information can be obtained from Pete Irons, 012 808 5432 (h), email . Pete will also guide groups on request.

Pete Irons 2002.




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