Greater Johannesburg and Environs – The Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary and Delta Park

About the Birding

Apart from the normal array of bird species typical of the surrounding gardens, Delta is known for its raptors with both Ovambo-, and Little Sparrowhawks having been recorded nesting in the Park, and Black Sparrowhawk hunt in the Park on a fairly regular basis. Up to four (depending on rodent numbers) Steppe Buzzards are usually present in the Park during summer and a variety of other raptors have been recorded as irregular visitors or vagrants.

Another major draw card is the pair of Spotted Eagle Owls which nest annually in a nest box on the Delta Environmental Centre building. The nest box is located on the western side of the office tower and the best position from which to view it is from the raised mound to the north of the Centre building. The owls usually nested in spring, but in recent years they have started nesting much earlier (even in June), and it is worth checking for activity from this time. Other attractions are the large flock of European Bee-eaters that are usually found hunting over the bottom of the Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary and along the Braamfontein Spruit during the summer months (October to April), as well as a variety of weavers, bishops, canaries and waxbills. All three of the local Lapwing species Crowned-; Blacksmith- and African Wattled- occur, as well as a small population of Spotted Thick-knees. The exotic Rose-ringed Parakeet has nested and is regularly sighted. Starting in the carpark next to the Delta Environmental Centre, explore the SASOL Sensory Trail and WaterWise Garden and then head south-west towards the top end of the Park. Your route will take you past three small dams which offer a variety of waterfowl, plus the odd kingfisher or Striated Heron. From the top dam head north towards the Standard Drive carpark, scanning the lawns for Red-throated Wryneck, and then continue along the track below the Delta School. Lesser Honeyguide has a regular call site in the large Black Wattle on the bank below the school and further along, seeding Guinea Grass (Panicum maximum) attracts large numbers of seedeaters during mid-summer. Now turn eastwards, heading down-slope through an area of natural veld grasses which is good for African Stonechat and both Zitting, and Levaillant’s Cisticola. The stand of tall Eucalyptus trees on your right has been used for nesting by both Little and Ovambo Sparrowhawks and is worth checking out particularly in late spring. Head south-east towards the observation mound overlooking the main dam in the bird sanctuary and spend some time scanning the water and reeds for a variety of waterfowl, rails, herons etc. before heading left towards the lower hide. Depending on season/water levels the reedbeds of the lower dam play host to large numbers of nesting Southern Red Bishops as well as small numbers of Thick-billed Weavers. Continue towards the bottom of the sanctuary and then turn right (east), heading towards the Braamfontein Spruit. Continue in a southerly direction checking the river and the power lines overhead for anything new before taking the narrow track between the bird sanctuary and the Girl Guide camp (Trefoil Park) to reach the second hide – which overlooks the main sanctuary dam. Complete the circuit by continuing along the sanctuary fence, over the water inflow and back up to the carpark next to the Centre.

Key species:

Ovambo and Little Sparrowhawks, Spotted Eagle Owl, Spotted Thick-knee, African Wattled Lapwing, African Olive Pigeon, Greater and Lesser Honeyguide, African Reed Warbler, African Stonechat, Thick-billed Weaver

About the Birding Site

Delta Park is a large 104 ha suburban park amidst the hustle and bustle of suburban Johannesburg, which also incorporates the Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary. Habitats include open lawns; areas of Hyparrhenia hirta grassland, several small dams, and areas of exotic woodland. The Braamfontein Spruit runs along the eastern boundary of the Park and serves as a movement corridor for various species of birds and mammals.

Key species:

Ovambo and Little Sparrowhawks, Spotted Eagle Owl, Spotted Thick-knee, African Wattled Lapwing, African Olive Pigeon, Greater and Lesser Honeyguide, African Reed Warbler, African Stonechat, Thick-billed Weaver

Other Related Information

Directions:
From the center of Johannesburg, head north on Jan Smuts Avenue, turning left into Empire Road below the University of the Witwatersrand. After passing the Yale Road entrance to the campus, keep left and take the fly-over leading to Emmarentia/ Barry Hertzog Ave. Continue north on Barry Hertzog Ave. [Route M71] until you find an open area with power lines on your left. Barry Hertzog Ave. becomes (briefly) Rustenburg Road at this point.

Other related information:

Directions:
Continue on Rustenburg Road over a small bridge located on a left-hand bend and up the hill to the second set of traffic lights (at the Engen Garage). Turn right here into Road No. 3 and continue for 850 meters to the main entrance (directly opposite the end of Road No. 3). Once inside the Park, turn left to the Delta Environmental Centre car park.

Access and facilities:
Main Entrance GPS coordinates: S 26° 7′ 40.00″, E 28° 0′ 36.00″
Times: 04:30 – 21:30
Entrance Fees: No entrance fees.

Text prepared by:
John Kinghorn and Toni Geddes

Key species:

Ovambo and Little Sparrowhawks, Spotted Eagle Owl, Spotted Thick-knee, African Wattled Lapwing, African Olive Pigeon, Greater and Lesser Honeyguide, African Reed Warbler, African Stonechat, Thick-billed Weaver

Contact details:

N/A

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