Cape Peninsula – Rondevlei Nature Reserve

About the Birding

This small city-run wetland reserve is situated close to the False Bay coastline. The best birding is done from the numerous bird hides, connected by a paved trail. There are two elevated towers that provide a panoramic view of the entire reserve. Although the summer months offer the best birding, the reserve is good all year round.

After passing through the reserve entrance, begin by birding the adjacent picnic area. Fiscal Flycatchers, and both White-backed, and Red- faced Mousebirds are regular, as is a cheeky Small Grey Mongoose. Scan the dense patches of vegetation for other common species.

From there you head towards the first lookout tower. Both this, and the more distant tower, provide a good elevated position to scan the vlei for aerial feeders such as African Black, White-rumped, Little and Alpine Swifts, Barn and White-throated Swallows, and Rock and Brown-throated Martins. Also look for African Marsh Harriers hunting low over the reed beds. African Fish Eagles are also seen from here. Water Thick-knee can be seen close to the small concrete pool next to the education building. The resident Hippopotamuses are sometimes visible from these viewpoints.

Make your way to the first of the hides or the veranda of the Tearoom. Patient birding can produce Cape Shoveler, Great-crested Grebe, both Blue-billed and Red-billed Teal, and Malachite Kingfisher, in addition to a wealth of other waterbirds. Secretive species like Little Bittern, Black Crake and Burchell’s Coucal are possible, with the latter two more often heard than seen. Both African and Greater Painted Snipes occur, but are only likely when the water levels start to drop in mid- to late-summer.

Work your way birding from hide to hide. White-backed Mousebird, Cape Bulbul, Yellow Bishop, Levaillant’s Cisticola and Cape Grassbird are common in between hides. Be sure to check the flood lamps of the neighbouring sports field for Rock Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon and Black-winged Kite. Pay close attention to the Sand Fynbos vegetation as Cape Dwarf Chameleons, and Painted Reed Frogs are present. At the second tower, scan the distant heronry in spring for breeding Grey, and Purple Herons, Sacred, and Glossy Ibises, and Black-crowned Night Herons.

The Scotto Hide (the most distant hide) is often the most productive. You can see Great White Pelican, Caspian Tern, Kelp and Hartlaub’s Gulls sitting together on a sandbank in front of the heronry. These are occasionally joined by other waterbird species: African Spoonbill, South African Shelduck and White-breasted Cormorants. Late summer mornings (when the vlei levels are low) are known to reward lucky birders with views of either African Rail or Baillon’s Crake.

Key species:

African Snipe, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, Great White Pelican, Blue-billed Teal, Great Crested Grebe, African Marsh Harrier

About the Birding Site

Rondevlei is a wetland reserve situated in Grassy Park and is part of the larger False Bay Nature Reserve. There is a series of hides overlooking the water as well as two lookout towers that provide panoramic views. The hides are connected by a path that passes through coastal sand fynbos. The birding can be excellent, especially for newer birders trying to become more familiar with wetland species, as around 70 species can be seen on a summer morning.

The total reserve list is over 200 species. It is also popular with photographers.

Key species:

African Snipe, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, Great White Pelican, Blue-billed Teal, Great Crested Grebe, African Marsh Harrier

Other Related Information

The reserve entrance gate/public parking is located at the corner of Fisherman’s Walk and Perth Roads, Zeekoevlei/Grassy Park (-34.0581, 18.4993). There is also secure parking behind a gate if you ask at the entrance office.
Entrance is free
The reserve is open from 7:30 to 17:00.
The paths are well maintained but aren’t always wheelchair accessible.
A reserve map is available on the Cape Bird Club website: https://www.capebirdclub.org.za/rondevlei-site-guide/rondevlei-map-detail/

Key species:

African Snipe, Little Bittern, Purple Heron, Malachite Kingfisher, Great White Pelican, Blue-billed Teal, Great Crested Grebe, African Marsh Harrier

Contact details:

Rondevlei Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)21 400 9593
Email: rondevleinaturereserve@capetown.gov.za
zeekoevleinature.reserve@capetown.gov.za

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