Free State (Central) – Soutpan
About the Birding
When traveling on the R700 from Bloemfontein towards Bultfontein, one passes Soetdoring Nature Reserve on the left just before crossing the Modder River. Take the first turn off onto a gravel road to the left approximately 1 km after crossing the Modder River at the Florisbad sign. This road leads to the famous Florisbad, which is a natural spring believed to be a fountain of youth in the previous century.
About the Birding Site
Soutpan is a small town situated approximately 45km from Bloemfontein. The town is surrounded by a number of small and large pans. The town’s name comes from the salt refineries surrounding the pans which have been producing salt for over a century. During wet years the numerous gravel roads surrounding the pans make for excellent birding in summer. In drier years this area is great year-round for grassland species associated with the arid central grasslands of the Free State.
Other Related Information
Turnoff to Soutpan off the R700: -28.798806, 26.108917
Wetland area (also the same location for Chestnut-banded Plover at saltworks). Wetland is south of coordinates and saltworks to the north): -28.762194, 26.052667
Turnoff after the Soutpan Police Station that transects the main pan: -28.719182, 26.062287
Wet years: Baillon’s Crake, African Crake, African Rail, Greater Painted-snipe, Dwarf Bittern, Lesser Moorhen, Black-necked Grebe, Black-winged Pratincole, Common Ringed Plover, March Sandpiper and numerous other waders and waterfowl
Dry Years: Easter Clapper Lark, Melodious Lark, Large-billed Lark, Pink-billed Lark, Red-breasted Swallow, Rufous-eared Warbler, Desert Cisticola, Ludwig’s Bustard, Sickle-winged Chat, Pririt Batis and African Quail-finch