North West – Rockwall Dam

About the Birding

Rockwall Dam:
Lying adjacent to the village of Ga-Luka, north of Phokeng, lies the small Rockwall Dam. The ‘main entrance’ is located precisely here: 25°30’32.1″S 27°12’18.0″E, or -25.508921, 27.205011 (but note that there are a number of small tracks leading down to the dam – if you’re unfamiliar with them, stick to this main track).

This small dam can comfortably be covered in the space of a few hours. A number of various waterbirds can be found here, and a number of more ‘western’ species and those that favour more saline conditions can be found during the winter/spring/early summer periods – depending on the water levels of the dam. Species that are almost always present include White-faced Whistling Duck, Hottentot and Red-billed Teal, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard, Egyptian Goose, Little Grebe, Greater Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, Pied Avocet, Kittlitz’s and Three-banded Plovers, Grey-headed Gull, Caspian and Whiskered Terns, Yellow-billed Stork, Reed and White-breasted Cormorants, Glossy Ibis, African Spoonbill, Grey Heron, Great and Little Egrets, Hamerkop and Pied Kingfisher. Lesser Flamingo and Cape Teal (and more Pied Avocet) move in during drier conditions. The dam is a great wader/shorebird location, due to the mudflats that are almost always present, and in summer the resident species (such as Black-winged Stilt, Kittlitz’s Plover) are joined by many species such as Ruff, Common Greenshank, Marsh, Wood and Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stint and Common Ringed Plover. Greater Painted-snipe is fairly regularly seen as well. Keep an eye out for various other ducks, herons and egrets, as species such as South African Shelduck, Goliath and Black Herons and Intermediate Egret do move in from time to time. Additionally, the dam has proved a reliable area to find the rare Lesser Black-backed Gull in recent years (carefully scan through the gulls and terns), and other rarer species such as Ruddy Turnstone have also been seen. Excellent acacia thornveld surrounds the dam and supports a wide range of species. In particular, search for the likes of Greater Honeyguide, Acacia Pied Barbet, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Cape Penduline-tit, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Barred Wren-Warbler, Kalahari Scrub Robin, Marico Flycatcher, Great Sparrow, Violet-eared Waxbill and Yellow Canary. Below the dam wall, a reed-lined stream is present which houses various warblers such as Little Rush and Lesser Swamp Warblers, along with Common and Orange-breasted Waxbills. A number of tracks run along the shoreline of the dam, and it is worth exploring all of these. Note that this is a popular recreational dam, and the weekends can be busy with fishers and paddle-boaters.

Key species:

Cape Vulture, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Lesser Flamingo, Pied Avocet, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Half-collared Kingfisher, Southern Pied Babbler, Barred Wren-Warbler, Cape Penduline-tit

About the Birding Site

Situated just north of the Magaliesberg Mountain range, the large town of Rustenburg is a perfect base to cover a number of sites that lie just to its north. A wide variety of excellent birds and birding is possible in this area, with extremely productive dry acacia thornveld dominating the region, however mixed woodland, open grasslands, agricultural fields and rich dams all add further diversity and boost the birdlife.

The routes described below are all ‘driving’ routes, along public roads – as such please note that facilities are few and far between. These sites are best done as day trips, and all the routes described above can be covered in a single day, comfortably. However, as with all birding, the more time spent in an area, the more birds seen. Birding can be excellent here, and a wide range of species is possible. A summer day trip, taking in all the main habitat types can produce a list exceeding 150 species!

Key species:

Cape Vulture, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Lesser Flamingo, Pied Avocet, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Half-collared Kingfisher, Southern Pied Babbler, Barred Wren-Warbler, Cape Penduline-tit

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
The routes described above are all off public gravel/tar roads. The roads are regularly maintained and a small sedan vehicle is sufficient to cover the area. Most of the land, away from the roads is private, and please seek permission before venturing off the road.

This is a very birdy area, and a high daily total can be expected. This area is regularly incorporated into routes for various teams in their Birding Big Day attempts.

Other related information:

GPS Coordinates:
Rockwall Dam starting point: 25°30’32.1″S 27°12’18.0″E, or -25.508921, 27.205011. Lies adjacent to the village of Ga-Luka, north of Phokeng.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
No BirdLife Recommended Accommodations are currently available in the area. However, a diverse array of accommodation options are available in and around Rustenburg, to suit all budgets and requirements.

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

Text prepared by:
Dylan Vasapolli (Birding Ecotours)
Shaun McGillewie (Birdlife Rustenburg)

Key species:

Cape Vulture, Pale Chanting Goshawk, Lesser Flamingo, Pied Avocet, Yellow-throated Sandgrouse, Southern Carmine Bee-eater, Half-collared Kingfisher, Southern Pied Babbler, Barred Wren-Warbler, Cape Penduline-tit

Contact details:

N/A

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