This is the most westerly region of the CLBR extending from Polokwane to the Wolkberg Mountain Range. The region has an average altitude of 1300masl (metres above sea level) and is the driest area of the birding route. The habitat is characterised by open savannah with scattered Acacia and broad-leaved trees and includes the Polokwane Plateau Bushveld and Mamabolo Bushveld vegetation types. Granite outcrops and riverine thickets provide diversity in vegetation and bird species in this area.
The arid Acacia-dominated plateau around Polokwane is a prolific birding area with over 400 bird species having been recorded here. Speciality birds include Short-clawed Lark, Pink-billed Lark, Bushveld Pipit, Shelley’s Francolin, Northern Black Korhaan, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Kalahari Scrub-Robin and Black-cheeked Waxbill. The dams and associated wetlands attract a wide variety of waterfowl and shore birds and often produce regional rarities.
This once-flourishing bird sanctuary is sadly in a state of disrepair, but it is likely to produce an interesting birding surprise or two. The habitats consist of riverine thickets, open water, dense reed beds, mudflats and Acacia thornveld. Apart from a good variety of waterfowl, waders and rallids, the Acacia thickets are very productive and accommodate Grey-backed Camaroptera, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-breasted Apalis and many warbler species in the summer months, including Common Whitethroat and Olive-tree, Icterine, Garden, Great Reed and Eurasian Marsh Warblers and Thrush Nightingale. The unpredictable flow of water into the settling dams often creates mudflats and shallow pools which attract a host of waders during middle to late summer with Wood, Marsh, Common and Curlew Sandpipers, Greenshank, Ruff and Little Stint. Look out for skulking African Snipe and Greater Painted-Snipe. There is a resident pair of African Fish Eagle along with other interesting raptors, including Ovambo Sparrowhawk, African Goshawk and African Harrier-Hawk. No overnight accommodation is available here, but facilities such as picnic/braai sites, bird viewing hides and walking trails make this reserve a worthwhile spot for a few hours of birding.
Directions: The sanctuary is situated just outside Polokwane on the R521 towards Alldays. The turn-off is on the right-hand side after crossing the Sand River, just beyond a prominent filling station.
This reserve is best known as the most reliable site for the isolated eastern population of the Short-clawed Lark, it also provides excellent bushveld, thornveld and grassveld birding. The extensive road network, walking trails and bird hides expose the visitor to a variety of habitats in which over 320 bird species have been recorded. Localised species found here include: Northern Black Korhaan, Shelley´s Francolin, Burchell´s Sandgrouse (winter), Bushveld Pipit, Ashy Tit, Great Sparrow, Barred Wren-Warbler and Tinkling Cisticola. Raptors are also well represented here with African Hawk Eagle, Black-chested Snake Eagle, Secretary Bird, Wahlberg´s Eagle (summer), Greater Kestrel and Gabar Goshawk, all of which breed in the reserve. The Short-clawed Lark is best found where the main loop cuts through areas of short grassland with scattered shrubs. Listen for its high-pitched whistle and scan the tops of the broad-leaved Gymnosporia shrubs and Acacia trees. There is a camping ground, caravan park and basic chalet accommodation at the reserve´s entrance gate.
Directions: To reach the reserve from the N1 south of the city, turn onto the Louis Trichardt / Tzaneen bypass road (2km beyond the Shell Ultra City filling station). Continue on this road until just before the Peter Mokaba Football Stadium, then turn right onto the Silicon Road. The reserve entrance is about 800m further on the right. From Polokwane itself, travel along Dorp Street in a southerly direction, passing the sports stadium and golf course until the road becomes Silicon Road.
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