Free State (North) – Vaal Dam/Deneysville/Heilbron
About the Birding
The area is very good for terns and other waterbirds, pipits, canaries, bishops, weavers and specials such as Banded Martin, Orange River Francolin, Blue Korhaan and Pink-billed Lark are not unusual. Other larks found in the area include Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark (normally much more common in winter), Red-capped Lark, Spike-heeled Lark (also more conspicuous in winter), Eastern Long-billed and Eastern Clapper Larks. Recently two very exciting additions to the list were Great White Pelican, Grey-crowned Crane, Sickle-winged Chat (typically winter) and Karoo Scrub Robin. The spectacular and elegant Caspian Tern is a regular sighting.
About the Birding Site
The Vaal Dam area around Deneysville and the dam shores might seem a bit sterile and uninviting, but still have much to offer visiting birders. Habitats in this area range from aquatic fresh-water, riverine/shore woodland, grassland, agricultural pastureland, patches of acacia savanna, broadleaved woodland, urban gardens, ephemeral and permanent wetlands. The normally flat, undulating stretches of land are interspersed with hills and koppies, providing additional habitat.
Other Related Information
Access and facilities:
Access is easy on the public gravel roads. During and after heavy rains, it is advisable to bird with a high-clearance vehicle. If one encounters landowners, they are initially (and understandably) suspicious, but immediately open up when informed about your purpose.