South-eastern Wetlands and Grasslands – Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

About the Birding

Taking the one-way circular drive is the best way to cover a variety of habitats. This is a good reserve for highveld species such as Red-collared Widowbird and Yellow Bishop. Larks which occur include Spike-heeled, Red-capped, and Eastern Long-billed, whilst Pipits include African, Long-billed, and Plain-backed. The paved walk behind the information centre may yield Sentinel Rock-Thrush (winter), Red-throated Wryneck, African Red-eyed Bulbul and Bokmakierie.

Mountain Wheatears are numerous in the higher areas of grassland where Wing-snapping Cisticola and Grey-winged Francolin are also found. Red-winged, Grey-winged, and Orange River Francolins also occur whilst other cisticolas occurring in the reserve are Zitting, Desert, and Cloud. Capped Wheatear may also occasionally be seen, especially in fields which have been recently burnt. Summer raptors include Amur Falcon and Steppe Buzzard with resident raptors including Secretarybird, Black-shouldered Kite, and Jackal Buzzard. Numerous Canary species such as Cape, Yellow, Yellow-fronted, Streaky-headed and Black-throated occur within the reserve. The best time to visit is in early summer when larks and cisticolas are calling and Widows and Bishops are in breeding plumage. In addition to the birding attraction the reserve also holds larger game species such as Zebra, Red Hartebeest, Black Wildebeest, Springbok, Eland, Kudu, and Chacma Baboon.

Key species:

Red-winged and Grey-winged Francolin, Yellow Bishop, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Melodious Lark, Sentinel Rock-thrush (winter), Fairy Flycatcher (winter), Malachite Sunbird, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Bunting

About the Birding Site

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve is approximately 13 337 ha in extent and is at an altitude of between 1 545 and 1 917 metres above sea level. The reserve is accessed by a 67 kilometre circular tarred road and there are various walks available ranging from the short paved walkway at the back of the Interpretive Centre to the 10km and 11.5km Bokmakierie hiking trails.

There is a large diversity of vegetation types including highveld grassland (some over 1800 metres), sheltered kloofs and valleys, Broadleaved woodland, Acacia Savanna, stands of Protea caffra and stands of Aloe marlothii.

Key species:

Red-winged and Grey-winged Francolin, Yellow Bishop, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Melodious Lark, Sentinel Rock-thrush (winter), Fairy Flycatcher (winter), Malachite Sunbird, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Bunting

Other Related Information

Access and facilities:
The reserve is extremely popular amongst cyclists and so it is advised for birders to visit during the week so as to not have to worry about the increased traffic and added noises, especially if they are wanting to solely bird the circular route. There are ablution facilities at the main offices once entering, and also at the picnic site (covid restrictions-dependant).

Other related information:

Directions:
From O.R. Tambo International Airport, take the R24 towards Johannesburg. Shortly after the R24 merges with the N12, branch left off onto the N3 south towards Heidelberg and Durban. Continue along the N3 for approximately 35km and take the R550 (R554) Nigel / Lenasia offramp, turning right towards Lenasia at the offramp intersection. After approximately 8 kilometers the reserve entrance is signposted on the left-hand side of the road. There is also a secondary entrance to the reserve is available from the west via the R557 Karee Road which is also the entrance to the Kareekloof Resort. The approximate travelling time from the airport is 45 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on traffic conditions and the time of day.

Main Entrance GPS coordinates: S 26°27’17”, E 28°13’22”
Weekday Times: 07:00 – 16:00 (exit by 18:00)
Weekend Times: 06:00 – 16:00 (exit by 18:00)
Entrance Fees: R40 per adult, R30 per pensioner/child, R30 per vehicle. Only card facilities are available.

Text prepared by:
John Kinghorn and Toni Geddes

Key species:

Red-winged and Grey-winged Francolin, Yellow Bishop, Eastern Long-billed Lark, Melodious Lark, Sentinel Rock-thrush (winter), Fairy Flycatcher (winter), Malachite Sunbird, Jackal Buzzard, Cape Bunting

Contact details:

N/A