Birding Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

Birding Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

By Johan van der Walt (find out more at Safari Link)

Last Saturday me and Billy Terre Blanche went birding at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. Quite a distance to travel for a half-day of birding, a return trip of about 280 km from my home, so we left at 05:00 to make it just after sunrise.

view over the rolling hills of the suikerbosrand nature reserve south africa
A spring view over the hills of the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, South Africa


A Red-Eye Bulbul hinting for berries at Suikerbosrand Nature reserve
A Red-Eye Bulbul hinting for berries

All in all, it was worth it as I got 3 general and 4 photographic lifers. An interesting day ticking 49 birds including birds like Familiar Chat (Gewone Spekvreter), Kalahari Scrub Robin (Kalahariwipstert), Mountain Wheatear (Bergwagter), Eastern Long-billed Lark (Grasveldlangbeklewerik), Capped Wheatear (Hoëveldskaapwagter), African Red-eyed Bulbul (Rooioogtiptol), Chestnut-vented Tit-babbler (Bosveldtjeriktik), Streaky-headed Seedeater (Streepkopkanarie), a variety of Cisticolas, Green-winged Pytilia (Gewone Melba), Mocking Cliff Chat (Dassievoël) and more.

Kalahari Scrub Robin at Suikerbosrand nature Reserve
Kalahari Scrub Robin at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

About Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve is a highveld reserve near Heidelberg and even though there are about 286 bird species listed for the reserve, one can expect to see between 50 birds up to 70 (on a very good day). The reserve is about 13,000 hectares of mainly grassland, ridges and cliffs and one can drive a circular route of 60 kilometres covering mountainous areas, montane grassland up to 1900 meters and low-lying acacia savanna thornveld. Large areas are covered with proteas (Suikerbos) which gives the reserve its name. Aloes and many Karee, as well as Kiepersol, also grow in large areas.

There are a number of large animals like Eland, Zebra and Black Wildebeest as well as smaller mammals like Black-backed Jackal.

Getting back home at about 15:00, we had an enjoyable day of birding and good conversation like always, but unfortunately, it was cloudy and the sunlight was extremely harsh, which didn’t make for any serious photography. I will surely go back soon after some good rain to find a few more lifers and hopefully, the sunlight won’t be as harsh.

You can find more bush stories by Johan van der Walt at the Safari Link Blog

Editor’s note – Suikerbosrand is a perfect companion to Marievale Bird Sanctuary or the Devon Birding Area as a birding day trip. You can spend a very pleasant morning at Marievale, have a bite to eat at the Marievale picnic site and then head across to Suikerbosrand for the afternoon. In the rainy months, especially on thundery afternoon’s keep an eye out for the elusive calling Grey wing Francolins which come into the sunlight to call.

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