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Introduction

 

The Waterberg-Nylsvley Birding Route covers the vast Waterberg mountains and the surrounding areas.  It contains the largest inland flood plain in South Africa, the largest Cape Vulture breeding colony in the country, four provincial reserves and over 150 000 hectare of other private reserves.  This area is the only place in the Limpopo Province where you can see the rare Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, as well as the Blue Crane, Barrow’s Korhaan and Stanley’s Bustards, while enjoying vast wide open spaces and spectacular scenery.  The area has the added attraction of being close to Gauteng and the O.R.Tambo International Airport, and it is in a Malaria-free part of the province.

Pearl Spotted
The key attraction of the WNBR is the spectacular Nylsvley floodplain when it is in flood. This 16 000 hectare floodplain, which floods every 3 to 4 years, has been registered as a RAMSAR site due to the importance it has for waterfowl in South Africa.  Of the 365 bird species recorded in the Nylsvley area, 104 are water birds and, of those, 87 breed here in the wet years.  Specials to look out for include Little; Dwarf and Eurasian Bittern, 15 species of duck and goose, Allen’s Gallinule, Lesser Moorhen as well as seven species of Crake and Rail, to mention a few.  Besides the waterbirds, the bushveld surrounding the Nylsvley also offers great birding, with 8 species of Owl being recorded and a chance of seeing the spectacular Orange-breasted Bushshrike and Crimson-breasted Shrike amongst the 200 other bushveld species found here.

The Waterberg Mountains hold a host of suprises for birders with White-backed Night Heron and Finfoot found along the Mogol and Phalala rivers, as well as Blue Crane, Barrow’s Korhaan, Stanley’s Bustard and Eastern Clapper Lark being found on the Plateau.  There are over 485 breeding pairs of Cape Vulture in the Marakele National Park and Gurney’s Sugarbirds, Buff-streaked Chat and Striped Pipit on the top of the highest peak in the Waterberg that is accessible to sedan vehicals via a concrete road.
The north-eastern escarpment of the Waterberg has the most spectacular scenery on the route and the Masebe Provincial reserve and the Telekishi community trail in this area offer the best chance of seeing Verraux’s Eagle, African Hawk Eagle, Lanner Falcon and Rock Kestrel as well as Short-toed Rock Thrush. 

The south-western part of the route is the main stake-out for Yellow-throated Sandgrouse in the country.  The hundreds of kilometres of Limpopo River along the Botswana border are largely unexplored and hold Pied Babblers, Sociable Weavers, Black-cheeked Waxbill and a host of other birds usually only encountered in the western part of Southern Africa.  There are also Pel’s Fishing Owl, Meyer’s Parrot,  Great Sparrow and a host of other surprises for birders in this vast and unexplored area.

The Mokolo dam, Doorndraai dam and D’Nyala Provincial reserves are also interesting, unexplored birding sites to add to the host of other fantastic birding sites of the route, adding wetland habitats amongst the vast bushveld areas of  the Route.


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