Free State (East) – Loch Lomond

About the Birding

The Loch Lomond Pan offers fantastic birding, specifically for species associated with water and wetlands. As an example, most of the duck and teal species occurring in South Africa can be located here in under an hour, this includes Yellow-billed-, African Black-, White-faced Whistling-, Fulvous Whistling-and the rather rare Maccoa Duck, Cape Shoveler, South African Shelduck, Cape-, Hottentot-, and Red-billed Teal, with even one record of a Knob-billed Duck.

Both Whiskered- and White-winged Terns are present in large numbers in summer, with Caspian Terns irregular visitors to the pan. African Darter, Reed- and White-breasted cormorants also frequent the area.

Depending on the water levels and season, several wader species are present here, with large numbers of Ruff present, as well as Wood- and Marsh Sandpipers, Common Greenshank, Pied Avocet, Black-winged Stilt, Little Stint, Three-banded- and Kittlitz’s Plover, and occasionally Curlew Sandpipers, Common Ringed Plovers. Recently Grater Painted-snipes spent a season here and also bred on the floodplain.

Also dependent on water levels and the season the pan attracts both Greater- and Lesser Flamingos, with flocks of up to 600 Lesser Flamingos present at times.
Sometimes the African Marsh Harrier can be seen as it hunts over the reed beds. Depending on the season the reed beds are home to various warbler species like the resident Lesser Swamp Warblers and Little Rush Warblers and migrants such as Great Reed-, African Reed- and Sedge Warblers.

The grassland surrounding the pan holds all the regular eastern Free State grassland species like African Pipit, Eastern Clapper-, Red-capped- and Spike-heeled Larks, various cisticolas such as, Levailants-, Cloud-, Wing-snapping- and Desert Cisticola.

This site is possibly one of a very few sites in South Africa where all four Ibis species can be seen foraging together; i.e. African Sacred-, Glossy-, Hadeda-, and Southern Bald Ibis.

After heavy rains the grassland adjacent to the pan floods and creates a haven for egrets, herons, spoonbills and many other species. Large flocks of mixed species can be seen hunting together, these include Black-headed-, Grey-, Purple- Black-crowned Night-, Black- and Goliath Herons, Yellow-billed-, Little- and Great Egrets, with several African Spoonbills joining in. These floodplains also hold very large concentrations of Blacksmith Lapwings.

The area with short grass at the water’s edge became locally famous for the annually returning Western Yellow Wagtails. In some seasons several individuals of different sub-species can be present. Once 22 individuals were counted here on the same day.

The pan has delivered its fair share of out-of-range records, such as a Slaty Egret, a juvenile Lesser Moorhen, and Black-chested Snake Eagle.

Key species:

Western Yellow Wagtail, Maccoa Duck, Southern Pochard, African Black Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Goliath Heron, Purple Heron, African Marsh Harrier, Southern Bald Ibis and Caspian Tern

About the Birding Site

Loch Lomond Pan (-28.191313°, 28.309553°) is located just north of Bethlehem town. This area is municipal property with free access on a dirt road, usually in good condition, but can become a bit muddy after heavy rains. The area used to be a public resort, but has been abandoned for many years. Many people however still utilise the area to fish and picnic. The old resort area is located on the opposite side of the pan from the local township, called Bohlokong.

Key species:

Western Yellow Wagtail, Maccoa Duck, Southern Pochard, African Black Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Goliath Heron, Purple Heron, African Marsh Harrier, Southern Bald Ibis and Caspian Tern

Other Related Information

Recommended accommodation nearby:
No BirdLife Recommended Accommodations are currently available in the area.

Local guide information:
No BirdLife Recommended Tour Operators or local guides are currently available in the area.

Other related information:

Text prepared by:
Martin and Melanie Potgieter
Martin Benadie | Specialist Birding Guide

Key species:

Western Yellow Wagtail, Maccoa Duck, Southern Pochard, African Black Duck, Fulvous Whistling Duck, Goliath Heron, Purple Heron, African Marsh Harrier, Southern Bald Ibis and Caspian Tern

Contact details:

N/A

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