North West – Roodekoppies Dam

About the Birding

Roodekoppies Hengeloord:
This fishing resort is located in the south-central portion of the dam, and gives you access to arguably some of the most productive shoreline of the dam. The fishing resort covers quite a large portion of the dam, providing easy access to the majority of the water birds, and some excellent acacia thornveld birding surrounding the dam. After signing in at the offices (see details below on where this is located ‘Other Related Information), proceed to the dam’s shoreline at the picnic site/day visitors’ facilities. This is a great area to park, and explore the resort on foot.

Starting with the waterbirds, a number of species are regular on the dam, and while they do move around, you should be able to find Grey, Goliath, Black-headed and Squacco Herons, Great and Little Egrets, African Spoonbill, Yellow-billed Stork, African Fish Eagle, African Jacana, White-faced Whistling Duck, Yellow-billed Duck, Red-billed Teal, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard, Knob-billed Duck and Spur-winged Goose. Scarcer species to watch out for are Fulvous Whistling Duck, Western Osprey, Greater Flamingo and Great Crested Grebe. In summer, when water levels drop exposing patches of shoreline, watch out for the likes of Ruff, Common Greenshank, Wood and Marsh Sandpipers and Little Stint. Grey-headed Gull and Whiskered Tern are resident on the dam, and White-winged Tern visit during the summer months. Caspian Tern are a scarce visitor. Numbers of Pied Kingfishers work the dam, as do smaller numbers of Malachite and Giant Kingfishers. Rare water birds have been recorded over the years, such as Pectoral Sandpiper, Allen’s Gallinule and African Skimmer, and it is worth keeping an eye out for any odd birds.

The thornveld surrounding the dam is especially productive, and common species usually include Southern Yellow-billed Hornbill, Brubru, Chinspot Batis, White-browed Scrub Robin, Marico Flycatcher, Long-billed Crombec, Burnt-necked Eremomela, Blue Waxbill and Golden-breasted Bunting, amongst others. Some of the specials to keep an eye out for include Crimson-breasted Shrike, Ashy Tit, Cape Penduline-tit, Southern Pied Babbler, Purple Indigobird and a variety of colourful seedeaters such as Violet-eared and Black-faced Waxbills. In summer, many migrants move into these areas, and arguably the most common is Woodland Kingfisher – which become dime-a-dozen, while various warblers such as Marsh, Icterine and Olive-tree Warblers and Common Whitethroat are all present as well, although knowledge of their calls helps immensely in tracking them down. Other common migrants include Spotted Flycatcher, Willow Warbler, Red-backed Shrike, and a variety of cuckoos – Red-chested, Diederik, Jacobin, Levaillant’s and Black all regularly occurring. Kurrichane and Groundscraper Thrushes often work the shaded portions of the picnic site, along with Arrow-marked Babbler, Black-headed Oriole and Black-backed Puffback. With some searching, Pearl-spotted Owlet can also be readily found as well.

Emanzini Fishing & Camping:
While this resort covers a much smaller section of the dam, almost all of the same waterbirds as mentioned above for the Roodekoppies Hengeloord can be found here as well, although this portion of the dam is usually less conducive for waders. Nonetheless, the waterbirds do still stream in thick and fast from this location. Exciting woodland birding can be had here – especially on the entrance road from the gate to the offices, you pass through productive dry acacia thornveld, and a denser patch of woodland. The acacia thornveld birds do not differ much from those mentioned above for the Roodekoppies Hengeloord mentioned above (as the two sites are in very close proximity to one another), however this denser woodland adds various species such as Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Bearded and Golden-tailed Woodpeckers, White-throated Robin Chat, Southern Boubou, Grey Tit-flycatcher and Southern Black Flycatcher, amongst others. This is also a good area to search for migrant warblers in the summer (such as Icterine and Marsh Warblers). It is recommended to park at the offices, near the dam’s shoreline, and explore the area on foot.

Roodekoppies Dennekruin:
Situated on the opposite shoreline to the Emanzini Fishing & Camping Resort, the Dennekruin resort covers a relatively small area, and can easily be covered in a short space of time. You can park at the offices, or alternatively closer to the dam, and cover this area easily on foot. This area is more sparsely populated with acacia trees, allowing for more open country birds to move in. Keep an eye out for the likes of Namaqua Dove, Swainson’s Spurfowl, Sabota Lark, Desert Cisticola, African Pipit, African Quail-finch, Scaly-feathered Finch (Weaver), Black-throated Canary, and if you’re lucky Great Sparrow. It is always worth searching for scarcer species such as Temminck’s Courser and Chestnut-backed Sparrow-Lark – the latter two especially after fires during the winter. Many of the same waterbirds, as mentioned for the Roodekoppies Hengeloord can be seen here as well, and this is another productive patch of shoreline, especially with waders – and additional species to search for include Black-winged Stilt, Common Greenshank, Kittlitz’s, Common Ringed and Three-banded Plovers and Water Thick-knee. White-fronted Bee-eaters nest nearby and are often in evidence near the water’s edge here. Despite the small size of the Dennekruin resort, this is a very productive spot and a high list of birds can easily be seen here alone.

Key species:

Fulvous Whistling Duck, Knob-billed Duck, Purple Heron, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Ashy Tit, Scaly-feathered Finch (Weaver), Purple Indigobird, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Black-faced Waxbill

About the Birding Site

This large dam is a very popular fishing location, and a number of different fishing resorts are located around the edge of the dam. As all of the land surrounding the dam is privately owned, these fishing resorts are effectively the only areas allowing access to the dam, and where you can bird from. The dam itself has suffered for many years with excessive water hyacinth presence – an invasive water plant.

The areas surrounding the dam are mixed between productive acacia thornveld and agricultural farmlands. This is a birdy area, and even during winter days, it is easy to surpass 100 species in a few hours of dedicated birding.

Key species:

Fulvous Whistling Duck, Knob-billed Duck, Purple Heron, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Ashy Tit, Scaly-feathered Finch (Weaver), Purple Indigobird, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Black-faced Waxbill

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
Roodekoppies Dam is best accessed from either (or all) of the following three fishing ‘resorts’ (please note that access may not be possible if there are fishing competitions ongoing):

Roodekoppies Hengeloord
The office is located at precisely here (25°25’20.5″S 27°35’27.6″E, or -25.422353, 27.590993), accessed via the small village of Kameeldrift, just off the R511 some 30km north of Brits. Note this site covers mainly the south-centre portion of the dam. Ablutions facilities are present.

Other related information:

Access and facilities:
R50 per person per day, or part of a day
Children under 12 – half price
Children under 6yrs – free

R100 per night for a stand with electricity (max 4 persons per stand)
R70 per night for a stand without electricity (max 4 persons per stand)

R30 per car once off
R40 per canoe or blowup boat once off
R70 per boat once off

Gate times:
Monday-Thursday 06h00-18h00
Friday 06h00-20h00
Saturday 05h00-19h00
Sunday 05h00-19h00

Emanzini Fishing & Camping:
The gate is located at precisely here (25°25’51.5″S 27°36’19.4″E, or-25.430972, 27.605395) – the office on the dam shoreline, accessed via the small village of Kameeldrift, just off the R511 some 30km north of Brits. Note this site covers mainly the south-east portion of the dam. Ablutions facilities are present.

Day visitor rates:
R20, per person per day, or part of a day
R40, for electrical point
R10, per tent/gazebo
R15, per caravan
R10, per car once off
R10, per canoe or blowup boat
R25, per boat

Overnight rates:
R30, per person per day, or part of a day
R50, for electrical point
R20, per tent/gazebo
R30, per caravan
R20, per car once off
R20, per canoe or blowup boat
R30, per boat

Gate times:
06:00 – 18:00

Roodekoppies Dennekruin
The gate is located at precisely here (25°25’43.2″S 27°38’13.2″E, or -25.428679, 27.637001) just off the R511 some 30km north of Brits. Note this site covers mainly the south-east portion of the dam. A day visitor fee is payable at the offices (ask for the current rate). Ablutions facilities are present.

Recommended accommodation nearby:
There are three rustic camping sites present on the shores of Roodekoppies Dam (see details above) – these camping sites also form the base for the birding to be had on the dam, and as such, need to be visited.

A wide range of lodges, game farms and camping sites can be found in the surrounding area (such as around Beestekraal, and to the east of Roodekoppies Dam) to suit all budgets.

Two BirdLife Recommended Accommodations are found on the southern shoreline of the nearby Vaalkop Dam (30mins away):
Mziki Safari Lodge
Finfoot Lake Reserve

Local guide information:
Birding Ecotours operate day tours to the area

Text prepared by:
Dylan Vasapolli (Birding Ecotours)

Key species:

Fulvous Whistling Duck, Knob-billed Duck, Purple Heron, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Crimson-breasted Shrike, Ashy Tit, Scaly-feathered Finch (Weaver), Purple Indigobird, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Black-faced Waxbill

Contact details:

Roodekoppies Hengeloord
Tel: +27 (0)82 704 6629
Website: https://www.facebook.com/Roodekoppies-Hengeloord-148994905300971/?ref=page_internal

Emanzini Fishing & Camping
Tel: +27 (0)83 755 4440
Email: chante_7@live.com
Website: https://www.facebook.com/emanziniroodekoppies.fishingcamping/

Roodekoppies Dennekruin
Tel: +27 (0)63 944 2097
Website: https://www.facebook.com/dennekruinhengeloord/?ref=page_internal

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