Birds of the Magaliesberg 2023


Preserve The Planet Earth Project Rotary Club Brits-Hartbeespoort, District9400





Birds of the Magaliesberg Vegetation map for the region

Zone map Directions

An explanation of the special birding habitats


Harties Aerial Cableway


Hartbeespoort Snake & Animal Park

De Wildt Adventure Trails


Mountain Sanctuary Park Birds of the Aloe Farm Gallery of special birds


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Sub areas map

N1,Wonderboom to Akasia

De Wildt Rietfontein

Hartbeespoort Skeerpoort


Rustenburg Kgaswane Vaalkop Dam & Surrounds

Cradle East

Cradle West ABOUT BIRDS OF THE MAGALIESBERG PAGE 224 Our key partners PAGE 227

Magaliesberg Association of Heritage & Culture National Association of Conservancies

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White-bellied Sunbird

Mountain Sanctuary Park is a privately owned nature reserve nestled in the Magaliesberg Mountains.These majestic Mountains, 2 billion, 3 million years old, stand proud and untouched, enveloping the most magnificent crystal-clear mountain pools and extraordinary rock formations, enticing like-minded people into a world of peace and serenity.

We pride ourselves on our well-earned reputation of being one of the quietest, most peaceful places in South Africa. We have managed to maintain this by enforcing our rules and regulations strictly, not allowing any noise/ music etc, at all, at any time. Klipspringers, monkeys, jackal, warthog and so much more can be found in and around camp as well as the remarkable beauty of flora, bird and butterfly life, making our Sanctuary an incredible experience for bird watches, botanists and hikers. We have re-introduced Zebra, Giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, Kudu, Bles-buck, Eland and more to our Sanctuary, adding a wonderful experience to the already gorgeous scenery and allowing you to hike amongst the wildlife. We have different accommodation options including log cabins, chalets, Cosy camping huts and camping sites. During your stay, you will have access to over 1000 hectares of hiking, not restricted by marked paths and guides or set routes. No day visitors are allowed, however daily guided hikes can be arranged. Our ablution facilities are well kept and offers guests the comfort of hot water showers, private toilets and washing-up facility. Our stunning swimming pool built from natural stone, overlooks the valley, and we offer braai facility, picnic area and loungers. Refreshments are available at the pool area. StasOmbs is our beautiful restaurant situated at the top of camp, at the base of the mountain, offering amazing views, really good affordable, family style food, friendly staff and a large, centered fireplace for winter. High View Chapel is a special, spiritual place, it is non denominational, and is perfect for either religious, or non religious ceremonies. The chapel is a gorgeous place to host weddings, memorials, baptisms, special celebrations, renewal of vows, retreats, yoga sessions, art galleries etc. the location is remote with amazing views and approx. 3 km from camp. We look forward to sharing our sanctuary with you! For chapel, restaurant, group bookings, special requests/ enquiries contact Stacy on: 076 020 4298

For general bookings contact: 014 534 0114 / 082 707 5538 For more information check out our website

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FOREWORD Birds, more than any other category of wildlife, are enjoyed by nature lovers almost everywhere. Within the region internationally recognised by UNESCO as the Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve, the abundance and diversity of birdlife is exceptional. More than half the total number of species that occur in South Africa can be seen within this relatively small, rugged landscape between Pretoria and Rustenburg. For many years Birds of the Magaliesberg, has provided information on how to locate, record and generally facilitate birding in this rich birding area. In this new e-book edition, the authors, Renier Balt and John Wesson, assisted by their wives, Millene and Jenny, have added important new dimensions to this valuable publication. The geographical range has been extended to include the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, Vaalkop Dam Nature Reserve, and other new localities and habitats. New species have been added to the bird list, additional maps have been drawn, and many more photographs of birds and their habitats have been included. An important feature is the printable bird list to be taken on bird outings while the electronic platform provides the ability to upload bird data from the WESSA Northern Areas Facebook page and website, NACSSA website and Birdlife Harties Facebook page as well as as well as other active links to advertisers and sponsors. Two unusual conditions explain the Magaliesberg’s rich biodiversity. The first is the geomorphology, with tiers of parallel mountain ridges extending in a shallow curve between Pretoria to Rustenburg. The highest of these is the Magaliesberg range itself. South of it lies the Witwatersberg (called the Daspoortrand at the Pretoria end) and south of that are Timeball Hill, Skurweberg and the dolomite formations of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Early Dutch settlers saw the ridges as benches or banke and named them the Bankenveld. Superficially, the ridges appear to follow a simple linear form but immense geological events over billions of years have moulded them into a wide variety of different habitats. Birding in the mountains reveals a complexity of gullies, open plains, rocky outcrops, and micro-climates supporting an enormous variety of birdlife. The second reason for such remarkable diversity is that the mountains lie at the transitional interface between two of the largest biomes in South Africa, the grasslands of the elevated southern African plateau, and the bushveld (savannah woodland) of central Africa. Grassland and bushveld each have their own representative communities of vegetation and birds and the Magaliesberg draws species from both, while patches of a third forest biome enrich the diversity further. Birds of the Magaliesberg Biosphere is a wonderful introduction to this complex environment and the authors and their wives are to be congratulated on this innovative electronic edition of their publication. Altogether this e-book is an immensely useful asset for all who go birding in this extraordinary landscape, the more so because it is being made available at no cost.

Half-collared Kingfisher. Occurs along the dam fringes and up the rivers.This Kingfisher has been recorded at the Jasmyn ponds. PHOTOGRAPH:ALBERT FRONEMAN

Vincent Carruthers 2021

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BIRDS OF THE MAGALIESBERG Following on the introduction, this Birds of the Magaliesberg electronic version, looks at the birding opportunities in the Magaliesberg biosphere reserve, which is on the doorstep of two of our largest cities in South Africa: Pretoria and Johannesburg, and in one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world, where it all began millions of years ago. The Magaliesberg (historically also known as Cashan Mountains[) is an approximately 140 km long mountain range, extending from Pretoria in the north of the Gauteng

The mountain towers over the Hartbeespoort Dam, that although being surrounded by intensive development, is still a haven for waterfowl and waders. It is quite common to see large numbers of Squacco Herons sharing their feeding grounds with African Jacanas and hundreds of Red-knobbed Coots, who feed on the alien invasive plant,Water Hyacinth. Large flocks of White-faced Whistling Ducks decorate the shallow water of the dam while White Pelicans may sometimes visit the deeper waters. The African Fish Eagle is a common breeding resident on the dam and during summer, the Honey Buzzard can be seen. The dense stands of blue gums in Meerhof are home to Black and Ovambo Sparrowhawks, while

Province to a point south of Pilanesberg, in the North West Province, South Africa. The range is approximately 60 km North of Johannesburg. The highest point of the mountain is reached at Nooitgedacht (1 852 metres). GPS coordinates are: South of the Magaliesberg is the Witwatersberg followed by the Skurweberg, and the rolling hills of the Cradle of Mankind, The Magaliesberg is ideally placed for birding enthusiasts, from the highly populated Cities to the South and East of it. This registered Important Bird Area (IBA 025 see notes) is steeped in rich cultural and biological history. Naturalists have explored this region since the earliest times and must have stood in awe of such a beautiful area. It is here that the first Sable was discovered and documented in 1836 by Cornwallis Harris. The mountain is made up of some very old quartzites of the Witwatersrand complex in the Transvaal Supergroup, and sediments, which forms a natural rift between the Highveld and the Bushveld with its warmer climate. This mountain and its surroundings are endowed with some of the best bird habitats in the country (over 450 species), and is also home to a number of special Red Data listed species like the Cape Vulture, Black Stork, as well as the White- backed Night Heron, African Finfoot, Half East edge: 25°51’30”S27°31’48”E , Western Edge: 25.8583°S 27.530°E.

collared Kingfisher and African Black Duck, that hideaway in the narrows of the Magalies and Crocodile Rivers. Recently White-bellied bustard and Yellow- throated Sandgrouse have been found near the mountain. The Magaliesberg mountain range is a river catchment area of national and international importance. The Kloofs add scenic and geological interest to the range, The Kloofs include waterfalls which run into deep rock pools. Unfortunately, most of these rivers are now highly polluted, and classed as endangered or critically endangered.

the Spotted Eagle-Owls also frequent these trees. The same stand of blue gums is a critical nesting site for many species, especially the larger birds of prey like the Fish Eagle. This specific pair rear both chicks each year, which is uncommon, as the larger chick normally kills the smaller chick. Higher up on the mountain slopes the Cape Eagle-Owl is a special, that has not been recorded for many years and the African Scops-owl calls all over the montane bush. White faced African Scops Owl and Pearl Spotted Owl are regularly seen and heard in the adjacent bushveld areas, often venturing into town and farm gardens.

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The Magaliesberg Mountain Range hosts two Cape Vulture colonies (see under habitats). These scavengers enjoy the respect and support of all the inhabitants of the Magalieseberg, and share their cliffs with swallows, swifts, kestrels, Black Storks, Cape Rock Thrushes and many other interesting birds. Many years ago, there were large flocks of Blue Cranes in the region, especially in the open grasslands of the Moot Valley Bushveld in the Western side of the valley, but today they are rarely seen with only one or two pairs being known to occur in secluded localities, except in the Koster area, to the west of the mountain range, regular sightings occur. Secretary birds still occasionally occur in the grasslands where, larks and cisticolas are abundant. Insects in the grasslands attract large numbers of European, White-fronted and Little Bee-eaters in summer, and some records even exist of Carmine Bee-eaters around the Hartbeespoort Dam. During the winter months flocks of Swallow-tailed Bee-eaters move in from the Kalahari Thornveld and sporadically occur along the length of the mountain. In the more wooded areas, the Grey-headed Bush Shrike calls its woeful call, only to be challenged by the Crimson-breasted Shrike. Some areas have a few resident, Orange-breasted Bush Shrikes, and in summer the Red-backed Shrikes are found just north of the Magaliesberg range. The Black- chested Snake Eagle is a common sight as it patrols the valleys looking for its next meal. Many mammal species still occur from Leopards, Brown Hyena, Serval, Kudu to the smaller Klipspringer and Smiths Red Rock Hare which are often seen on the crest of the mountain. If visiting the region during mid to late winter look out for the spectacular Aloes in flower, including the Aloe peglerae which is endemic to these mountains and surrounding hills, as well as Aloe marlothii and Aloe mutabilis. To gain the most value in this region, one needs to spend a few days exploring this ancient landscape. Please see suggested accommodation venues in the text. The Magaliesberg is “the last haven” of this fast-growing region that offers a wonderful area with a rich birdlife. Development is putting huge stress on the environment and the future of some of the unspoilt natural areas are in the balance. Birds may just be the last tool to use to prevent any further demise of the Magaliesberg region. Enjoy them now while you still can.

There are Little Bee eaters sporadically sighted in the length of the region PHOTOGRAPH: JOHN WESSON

The dams and rivers provide one with many opportunities to spot many water birds, and canoeing down the quite rivers can be very rewarding with regular sightings of White backed Night Heron. In the woodland areas, listen and watch out for bird parties as they often consist of several species. Keep groups small and do not make a noise.Wear unobtrusive clothing. Plan to walk with the sun behind you as far as possible. Use binoculars with a magnification of 7 to 10 x preferably wide angle with a good neck strap.

For detailed information on the Magaliesberg Biosphere please look at:

Enjoy your birding in our region.

Tips to enhance to your Magaliesberg birding experience.

Notes IBA: The function of the Important Bird & Biodiversity Areas (IBA) programme is to identify and protect a network of sites, at a biogeographic scale, critical for the long-term viability of naturally occurring bird populations, across the range of those bird species for which a site - based approach is appropriate.

Best times to bird watch are two to three hours after sunrise and the same hours before sunset, depending on the season. Care must be taken when climbing the mountains during summer months, especially in the afternoons, due to the rapid build-up of electrical thunderstorms. Summer months are more rewarding due to the presence of all the migrants and the abundance of food. Look out for flowering trees, shrubs and seeding grasses, as birds will congregate around them. A place not to be missed, is a visit to the Aloe farm (see article page) especially during June to August when the aloes are in full flower.

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DIRECTIONS TO THE BIOSPHERE The gateway to Magaliesberg is the Hartbeespoort dam area and is about an hour and a half drive from OR Tambo International Airport. Take the R21-North to Pretoria. Shortly before Pretoria, turn onto the N1-North towards Polokwane and then later the N4-West towards Rustenburg. Pass through two toll gates and take the R511 off ramp, turning left into the R511. Proceed south easterly to Hartbeespoort going over the historical Silkaatsnek. After going over Silkaatsnek turn right into Hartbeespoort by remaining in the R511. From Hartbeespoort follow the signs to Brits going over the Hartbeespoort Dam wall and turn left at the Damdoryn Fourway stop and proceed up the Skeerpoort Valley to the Magaliesberg town. From Lanseria airport access is straight down the R-512 until you reach a T junction where one can go left via southern side of dam, Kommandonek and over the dam wall or right past Pelindaba, turn left towards the Witwatersberg and over Saartjiesnek to get to the town of Hartbeespoort. Rustenburg is a further journey of about 75 km from Hartbeespoort taking the road north over Silkaatsnek and carrying on straight towards Brits


Towns and gardens A number of Towns occur along the length of the mountain from Pretoria in the East, Hartbeespoort/ Brits in the centre, Rustenburg in the West and Magaliesburg town to the Southwest. Many gardens are well wooded going from the sub-tropical on the Northern Side to cold frosty winters on the Southern side and across the rolling hills of the Cradle. The many fruiting \flowering trees and shrubs have drawn a lot of birds in, from Northern parts of the country e.g., African Olive Pigeons, Green Pigeons and more recently the Yellow bellied Greenbul. In winter there are magnificent displays of several Aloes spp in flower. Estates and resorts in the region are ideal drawcards for many species. The Aloe farm nursery for example has extensive aloe gardens and water features attracting sunbirds especially in winter, when the aloes are in

Gardens in the Carribean Beach estate, Kosmos, Hartbeespoort

full flower. See article in this publication in specific areas on the Aloe farm. Other extensive gardens are found in many of the estates in the area where the environment is a top priority like Xanadu Eco estate, and Magalies park (See article page) Birds like the Yellow- bellied Greenbul are resident in the suburb of Schoemansville in Hartbeespoort.

You will see the turn off to your left to get on the Platinum highway to Rustenburg. To explore the Cradle part of the Biosphere it lies South of the Witwatersberg and West of the R 511 running all the way virtually to Krugerdorp (please see map). Please avoid travelling these roads late at night.

Hotel and restaurant in Hartbeesfontein on the Magalies river

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Hunters Rest Hotel near Rustenburg

Artificial wetlands in the Islands estate

Magaliespark with its extensive its indigenous woodlands

Some estates have put a lot of effort into retaining natural wetlands

A water feature in the extensive indigenous gardens of the Aloe Farm

A view of Kosmos suburb, Hartbeespoort

Xanadu Nature Estate showing its extensive wetland

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Xanadu Nature Estate

The Oxwagon Lodge

The well wooded Westlake Estate

Typical view from the estates of the Magaliesberg

Westlake Estate

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Mining Large areas to the north of the mountain are important chrome and platinum mining belts. Where mining has taken or is taking place the landscape has changed forever. This is especially in the case of granite mining where often moon like landscapes are left with no rehabilitation, being undertaken by runaway owners. The fabricated rocky hills and water areas often host large numbers of bird species. Sand mining is taking place in all areas and often these fabricated sandbanks offer nesting sites for bee-eaters and kingfishers.Attempts to prospect in the buffer of the biosphere is an ongoing problem.

Farmlands In much of the farming areas, the natural bush has been retained. In lucerne fields, large numbers of birds are attracted, like White and Abdims Storks, when the Lucerne is cut. The farmlands are normally surrounded by indigenous trees and shrubs.These lands attract a large number of ground birds as well as seed eaters, often found on weed patches on fringes, where the land has been disturbed or lands left fallow.

In many areas the bush has been cleared for farming

Farming just north of the Magaliesberg

The patchwork of farms in the Moot just East of Hartbeespoort dam

Farms set in the Marikana bushveld vegetation type in the De Wildt area

View up the Moot valley towards Pretoria

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Grasslands Grassland patches occur on the northern and lower slopes of the Magaliesberg as well as over the rolling hills of the Cradle, where one finds an endangered grassland type namely Egoli Granite Grasslands. The predominant grass species is Red Grass (Themeda triandra), with large tracts of Thatch grass normally found along the road verges. This habitat is very prone to fires throughout the year and plays host to a number of species after such a fire. Unfortunately, many of these fires are caused by arsonists which result in a major impact on the environment, especially with hot fires damaging tree species like the Wild Syringa and impacting on the wetlands.

Burning grasslands are a common sight in the Magaliesberg especially in winter

Burnt grasslands with aloes in flower in the Cradle area

Rolling grasslands in the Cradle area

Grasslands with Wild Syringa, Kgaswane game reserve

Grasslands in Crocodile river reserve area in the Cradle

Mountain Crest This is a relatively barren landscape with many loose rocks making walking difficult. The main cover is short grass and herblike plants. The endemic Aloe peglerae (Turk’s cap aloe) occurs here.These aloes flower end July are frequented by the Cape Rock Thrush which is one of the pollinators.Wessa Northern Areas is running a project to replant the Aloe back in the Magaliesberg. Typical of this high habitat are Rock Thrushes, Alpine Swift, Peregrine and Lanner Falcons, Rock Kestrels and Cape Vulture. With the Verreauxs’ Eagle found in a number of localities, often seen hunting in pairs, as they skim the crest in search of prey. Shelleys Francolin is found in these habitats and Ground Woodpecker are known to occur.

Patches of grassland in the Hartbeespoort dam area

Kgaswane Mountain Reserve High grasslands

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Crest of the mountain near Nooitgedacht

South facing slopes These slopes are cooler and moister than the Northern side, with distinct Protea caffra belts. Grasslands occur up towards the Southern sheer cliffs, with dense bush lower down consisting of “Acacia”* species, like the Common Hook Thorn, some Sweet Thorn, as well as a number of Karee sp, Wild Olive, Highveld Cabbage tree etc. Many of these birds , like the Wild Olives and White Stinkwood. These tree species attract a large number of fruit eating birds during fruiting season, such as Red-winged Starlings, African Olive, and Green Pigeons.

Exploring the boulder strewn crest near De Wildt

On crest looking towards Nooitgedacht towers

Looking West from Breedts Nek pass

Close views can be had when going up in the Harties Cableway and an example of a typical rock formation (cliffs)

Southern slopes Rietfontein

Very susceptible to fires especially in winter

The top of the Magaliesberg in De Wildt area

View up the Moot valley towards Pretoria

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Valleys Narrow valleys are found between the Magaliesberg and the hills mainly on the Northern side of the mountain and provide many unique habitats, ranging from dense woodland, open Wild Syringa woodland, grass slopes, wetlands, interspersed with the tall Aloe marlothii, and large stands of the Euphorbia ingens (Candelabra tree). Many of these areas have been invaded by Bug Weed, which also provides an excellent food source for many fruit eating birds and a favourite of African Olive Pigeon. Similar valleys occur throughout the Cradle area.

Views east down the valleys, Kgaswane nature reserve

Cliffs The sheer high cliffs are found on the Southern side of the mountain overlooking the Moot Valley bushveld below. They have typical deep cracks and holes making ideal habitats for mountain nesting birds of prey, as well as swifts etc. These cliffs are the home of two of the regions Cape Vulture colonies, the largest of which at Skeerpoort, has around 280 breeding pairs. The other

Looking down into the Moot valley

Wooded areas Kgaswane game reserve

one is at Nooitgedacht in the Buffelspoort area, where they are in a protected area and safe from interference. Roberts Farm colony close to Rustenburg no longer has any birds present. The Skeerpoort colony also has a number of Black Storks roosting and breeding there.

Valleys around Olifantsnek dam

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View from Cableway and cliffs visible on south side of mountains

Southern cliffs in Nooitgedacht utilised by the Cape Vultures for their breeding colonies

Typical formation of Southern cliffs PHOTOGRAPH: BERTIE BOSSERT

Typical rock formation as viewed from the Harties cableway

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Kloofs (deep gulleys) & streams Kloof’s occur on the North and South side of the mountain and are characterised by dense forest with tall trees forming a canopy. These include various fig species, Wild Plum,

White Stinkwood, Red Ivory, Quinine tree, Cape Chestnut. These trees are all typical of Northern Temperate forest vegetation and provides an ideal habitat for forest loving bird species. Many of these gullies have fast flowing mountain streams and waterfalls flowing through them. It is worthwhile exploring them, on an ongoing basis, as they are sure to reveal unique species. The NarinaTrogon was recorded in about 2011, in one of these forests at Retiefskloof near Rustenburg.

The dense forest and mountain pools found in Retiefskloof

Some of the magnificent waterfalls in the area (left).An example of the vegetation in moist gulleys

Deep pools near Retiefskloof on the far western point of the Magaliesberg

These areas are recognised as northern temperate forest

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Rivers and dams The region has three main dams namely Hartbeespoort, Buffelspoort and Olifantsnek with the new segment of the Magaliesburg Biosphere added covering Vaalkop and Rooikoppies dams to the North. All have areas where one can gain access to the waters edge or open water. (See info on specific areas). Hartbeespoort is the only one that is heavily polluted Hyacinth is found on the dam in large tracts of water, which has increased the presence of a number of species that utilise this habitat, either to feed on or search for food i.e. Black Crake, African Jacana, African Purple Swamphen. To either explore on foot or boat will reveal a number of exciting species. A group of Greater Flamingo used to occur on the Southern side of Hartbeespoort dam when the water level is not to high and floating vegetation is absent. Key rivers for the dams are the Crocodile, Magalies, Skeerpoort, Elands and Apies. All provide ideal habitats for bird species, especially when the rivers are low and sand banks appear in summer. This is where a considerable number of migrant species can be found. Finally, there are several pans in the Koster area which often plays host to several unique species (see Rustenburg area).

Note: In Africa, the Acacia species have been renamed Vachellia or Senegalia to fit in with the global tree identification protocol.

Early morning Magalies river in Skeerpoort

Series of weirs along the Crocodile in the Cradle area

When the dam level drops ideal wader habitats appear

Continuing efforts to keep shorline clean by resort owners

Leopard Lodge view across dam

Reeds and water hyacinth on the efdges provide the ideal habitat for a wide range of waterbirds

Day break on the Magalies river

Rockwall dam near Rustenburg

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The Crocodile river as it passes Pelindaba and enters Hartbeespoort dam

A series of weirs dams up the Swartspruit at Xanadu Eco estate before it enters Hartbeespoort dam

Crocodile river at edge of the Cradle on its way to Hartbeespoort dam

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Confluence of the Skeerpoort and Magalies rivers, Skeerpoort

Hartbeespoort dam looking South from dam wall

Crocodile river at Roos se oord

Hartbeespoort dam view from Kosmos suburb

Buffelspoort dam

Rooikoppies dam North of Brits on the way to Vaalkop dam also situated on the Crocodile river

Vulture flight over dam

Buffelspoort dam western edge

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BOOKINGS & GPS COORDINATES 012 253 1162 • • S25 43’45.50” E027 51’30.90”

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In 2010, Zargodox (Pty) Ltd began a private initiative with the aim of growing tourism in the Hartbeespoort area, and purchased the old cableway. In collaboration with Swiss company Rowema AG, Zargodox invested time and expertise into rejuvenating the old installation and bringing the area back to life. Fourteen six-seater hi-tech cable cars, new galvanized cabling, touch-screen technology, auto-cabin spacing, and conveyor programming technology was installed.The cableway underwent 500 hours of testing, complying with the Canadian Standards Association specifications.

There is a self-service express restaurant at the top of the cableway, where you can buy light meals to enjoy on the terrace or at one of the viewing decks. You may also want to sip on a cocktail at the bar, while admiring the view from the terrace. If you have children, why not sit under the shade at one of the picnic tables and watch them play on the jungle gym in the Kidzone play area? You can do some shopping at the Little Shop at the Top, or just sit back and enjoy nature, taking in the tranquility and the calls of the birds. The crest

of the mountain range is a must for birders wanting to experience some of the birds that frequent this habitat.You may well be lucky enough to see some endangered Cape Vultures circling overhead from the nearby breeding colony in Skeerpoort, or the Verreaux’s Eagle as it hunts for Rock hyraxes (dassies), especially in the early morning as they come out to sun themselves.The Biosphere boasts a bird list of over 450 species. Recently a project was launched by WESSA Northern Areas region to bring back the endangered Aloe peglerae (Turk’s Cap Aloe) to the cableway area from where it To help visitors explore the mountain, the Harties Cableway has set out the one km ‘Dassie Loop’ walkway. Informative signs along the way explain points of interest that you can see from atop the mountain; on a clear day you can see the Coca-Cola Dome in Randburg, most of Brits and even some parts of Pretoria.

On 14 August 2010, at the re-opening of the cableway, the then Minister of Tourism, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, congratulated the team behind the rejuvenation of the cableway and stated: “Anyone who has been to Switzerland will tell you that the Harties Cableway is up there with the best.This is a world-class facility, and we need many more products like this”. The Aerial Cableway was named ‘Best Conference Venue’ at the North West Provincial Tourism Awards in 2012. The fun doesn’t begin and end with the cable car ride itself. A trip to the top of the mountain will quickly turn into a day of enjoyment, away from the pressures of city life. On top, you feel as if you are in another world, and there is plenty to enjoy in this small paradise.

Sweeping views of Hartbeespoort Dam and surrounding areas from the Cableway deck

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Enjoying the views from the trails looking northwest towards Pilanesberg Game Reserve

The view from the Cableway in a westerly direction

A consignment of Aloes on their way up to the top to be planted

Aloe peglerae and mutabilis being planted by WESSA in the upper cableway natural landscape

The decks at the upper Cableway station

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One of the more common antelope species often seen on the rocky outcrops on the crest, especially in the early morning, is the Klipspringer with its specially adapted hooves for climbing steep rocky area

Striped Pipit, a special bird often seen on the lawns of the upper cableway area

Rock Hyrax or ‘dassie’ as it is locally known, sunning itself at sunrise

If one is fortunate one can spot the Verreaux’s Eagle as it searches the rocky plateau for its prey

The impressive lower Cableway station

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GETTING THERE The longest mono-cableway in Africa is situated off the R 511 from Johannesburg, one km to the north of the town of Hartbeespoort in the North West Province, in the Magaliesberg Biosphere reserve. The aerial cableway is open from Wednesday to Sundays all year round but in severe weather conditions it will close. For those planning a visit its recommended that you wear comfortable shoes and bring along a jersey or jacket, sunhat and sunscreen. For guests or spectators, there is a restaurant at the base station where you can wait before you enjoy the adventure. For further information about costs and bookings please look at their website.

Aloe peglerae or Turk’s Cap Aloe. Endangered endemic aloe to the Magaliesberg and Witwatersberg mountains

Mocking Cliff-chat, a common, tame species, regularly seen at the upper cableway station

Cape Bunting, a fairly tame seed eating resident of this high level part of the mountain

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The Park was founded over 55 years ago by Jack Seale and now a family run business. It houses a wide variety of interesting animals, reptiles and birds including breeding Cape Vultures, lions, tigers and other big cats, chimpanzees and other primates, hyenas, wild dogs, and otters all kept in natural surroundings. The Cape Vultures have bred regularly on the artificial rock wall for the past 30 years. The park has one of the most comprehensive snake collections on display in Africa. Come stroll along the paths and gardens in this well wooded area that provides home for several bird species. In the Blue gum trees to the East of the park large numbers of White-breasted Cormorants nest with a few Grey and Black headed Herons as well.

For a view of the dam wall and a glimpse of the open waters the park also arranges ferry boat rides and a variety of other water sport activities. The Ferryboat ride is approximately a 25-minute cruise and can seat 100 people. They also cater for a variety of functions i.e., conferences, corporate functions, kitchen teas, sunset cruises, weddings, and birthday parties etc., from finger snacks to sit down meals and a cash bar is available. The Watersport Centre also features speedboat rides, water toys as well as Jet Ski rides.

To get some good views of birds on the dam it is often worthwhile to take the early morning or late afternoon cruise on the pleasure boat. Many of the open water species can be seen such as Great- crested Grebe, Cormorants,

Darters, and duck spp. If you are fortunate, you may witness the magnificent Fish Eagle doing some fishing. All their vessels and skippers are SAMSA registered ensuring your highest level of safety on the water. Jack Seale has been custodian of a few key conservation areas around the dam for a period of over 50 years including the Meerhof \Ifafi Conservancy Bird Sanctuary.

Cape Fur Seal

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GETTING THERE Return up Marais str and turn left before reaching the Dam Wall you will see the Hartbeespoort Dam Snake and Animal Park on your left with its castle like rock walls. The park also offers snake courses, education programmes for children at the park or at the school premises, and more recently a conference center has been added to the facilities. Open daily, public holidays and school holidays from 8H00 GPS COORDINATES S 250 43.764 E 027 51.531 Website

Owner Jack Seale

A pair of Honey Badgers

The view from the park of the Hartbeespoort dam

Serval cat

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De Wildt Adventure trails offers well marked hiking trails up the Magaliesberg escarpment, approaching from the ‘gentle’ side of the mountain as opposed to climbing up the cliff side.This offers a good workout without being too technical with great views from the top. There is a well placed picnic site at the end with super

friendly staff where one can relax in the serenity of the Magaliesberg mountain and listen to some of the over 450 species of birds listed for the Biosphere. The trails are well marked with no litter. We recommend you wear a hat and take sufficient water. The routes are generally considered a moderately challenging and can take up to 4 hours to complete.The area is popular area for birding, hiking, and trail running, so you’ll likely encounter other hikers while exploring the area. Dogs are welcome and may be off-leash in some areas. GETTING THERE Situated on road 78E off the R 513 Schietfontein Tel:

082 777 9326 082 462 3627

A WESSA snare removal excercise in the area

A glorious De Wildt sunset

Trails are well marked throughout De Wildt

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Guests enjoying the braai facilities

Interesting rock formations are scattered around the area

On top of the world

The ideal spot for a family picnic

The historic zig zag track built by the British during the Boer war to transport canons to the top of the mountain

A group of hikers

A hiker enjoying an early morning walk

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This prime destination is set at the foot of the Magaliesberg Mountains, and combines the best of nature, with the best of leisure activities and accommodation. If you’re looking for a great new place to spend time with the family, whilst surrounded by the beauty

and tranquility of nature, look no further than Magalies Park. For the sheer number of facilities and experiences on offer, Magalies Park is considered one of the most desirable resorts in the North West Province. The park straddles the northern shore of the Magalies River as it enters the dam, some 10 km from Hartbeespoort. The resort and golf course are set in 120 ha of well-landscaped park-like gardens with many features to attract all forms of wildlife, especially birds. The park boasts many water ponds as well as extensive river frontage, with large stands of mostly indigenous trees. As a bonus one has direct views of the mountain to the north of the park and its Skeerpoort Cape Vulture colony numbering over 250 breeding pairs of the birds. The gardens and woodlands attract many garden and woodland species of birds and the water areas attract a number of duck species. Egyptian Geese and Hadedas are the more common species. The Half-collared Kingfisher can be spotted along the river or at one of the many water features. Typical birds along the river frontage are Black Crake, African Jacana, Red Knobbed Coot, a number of warbler species, weavers including the Thick-billed Weaver. In dead trees along the banks one often finds the African Darter, White-breasted Cormorant, Reed Cormorant and a number of heron species, including the Goliath- and Black-crowned Night Heron. The more common Giant, Malachite and Pied Kingfishers are ever-present, while in the woodland one finds the Brown-hooded Kingfisher and in summer the Woodland Kingfisher. This park provides easy leisurely birding for all ages and provides birding opportunities at all times of the day. GETTING THERE This resort is a 30-minute drive from Lanseria Airport and 50 km from Pretoria on the R 560 and a short distance from Kosmos and the new road over the Magaliesberg at Pampoen Nek.

The ever present Malachite Kingfisher, the jewel of this water way, often seen darting low over the water from reed to reed

A Springbuck enjoying the early morning glow

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Interesting sightings can be had when one strolls along the resort’s extensive river frontage

The Black Crake with its loud call is often heard and not seen in the dense reedbeds and other vegetation

Cape Clawless Otter one of two species found in the dam. Often seen in the river

White-faced Duck basking in the early sunshine

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African Darter often seeing drying its wings in the dead riverine trees

African Swamphen foraging in the water hyacinth for insects

The Goliath Heron often seen making its way along the river (the largest Heron in SA)

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A green fresh summer morning after rain looking across the resort golf course

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The glorious summer landscape

The Squacco heron, a regular visitor to the area in search of food

Magalies River as it meanders past the resort to the dam

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In summer the distinct calls of the Woodland Kingfisher, an inter-African migrant is heard

Winter landscape

White-fronted Bee-eaters.This resident species nests in the vertical river banks where it creates burrows

More a nocturnal species, the Black-crowned Night Heron can be seen roosting in tall riverine trees during the day

Reed Cormorant drying out its feathers

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The Mountain Sanctuary Park is the gateway to one of the most stunning landscapes and hiking areas in the Magaliesberg. This impressive privately owned nature reserve is situated approximately 90 km from Pretoria and 110 km from Jhb in the Maanhaarand area. These magnificent ancient mountains stand proud and untouched, surrounding the most magnificent crystal-clear mountain pools, landscapes, and extraordinary rock formations, enticing like minded people into a world of peace and serenity. Birds of the area include a wide variety of raptors such as the African Hawk Eagle, Wahlberg’s Eagle, Cape Vulture, and the Cuckoo hawk may also be seen. If one looks towards the Nooitgedacht towers one will see the spiraling Cape Vultures as the air starts warming up and they pick up the rising thermals. Over 100 breeding pairs have made their home on the southern cliff faces. Mountain specials include Short-toed Rock Thrush, Cape Rock Thrush, Cape Bunting, and Cinnamon-breasted Bunting. As you stroll through the grass covered hills, the Eastern Clapper Lark “claps” above you. In the protea belt watch out for a fleeting glimpse of the magnificent Malachite Sunbird that is found there in the summer months. In the distant northern temperate forests you hear the call of the Red-chested Cuckoo, while back at camp the ever-present Grounscraper Thrush runs along the lawns in search of food. If you stand quietly you can hear the constant calls of a variety of barbets, tchagras, cuckoos, shrikes and mousebirds as they go about their daily activities. Along the access road in the vlei area adjacent to the river are resident Little Bee eaters. They are uncommon birds in the region, along with a wealth of birds normally found in these high grasslands such as Red-collared Widows, Southern Red Bishops, Stone Chat, weavers and queleas. In tall stands of reeds, you will find the finely woven nests of the Thick-billed weaver. Listen for the ever-present Rufous- naped Lark as it calls from its perch somewhere, often on a fence post, while the call of the Swainsons and Natal Spurfowl are heard in the distance. After the rains large numbers of swallows like Red-breasted, White-throated and Lesser Striped can be seen collecting mud. During summer one will often find the Common Buzzard perched high up in a blue gum tree, or on an electricity pylon as it surveys the scene for potential prey. At night one can hear the clear ringing call of the Fiery-necked Nightjar with its distinct “good lord deliver us call” as well as if lucky enough the plopping call of our largest nightjar, the Freckled Nightjar whose home is the rocky slopes of the Magaliesberg range. During a recent visit over a weekend (February 2023) we recorded 72 bird species in the park.The best times for birding and photography are from just before sunrise for about two hours after especially in summer and two hours before sunset. Klipspringers, monkeys, jackal, warthog and several more mammals can be found in and around the camp, as well as the remarkably beautiful flora, bird, and butterfly life.This makes

it an incredible experience for birders, botanists, and hikers to visit and explore. Several mammal species have been introduced including zebra, giraffe, Blue Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest, Kudu, Blesbok and Eland.This adds to the wonderful experience of this breath taking scenery and allowing one to hike amongst the wildlife. Different accommodation options are available including log cabins, chalets, Cozy camping huts and spacious camping sites. During your stay, you will have access to over 1,000 hectares of hiking, not restricted by marked paths and guides or set routes. No day visitors are allowed; however daily guided hikes can be arranged. The ablution facilities are well kept and offer guests the comfort of hot water showers, private toilets, and washing-up facilities. The stunning swimming pool, built from natural stone, overlooks the valley, with braai facilities, picnic areas and loungers for those who want to just relax around the pool. Refreshments are available at the pool area. To top it all there is an amazing restaurant, StasOmbs, situated at the top of camp, at the base of the mountain, offering splendid views over the camp area and valley beyond to Buffelspoort Dam. The restaurant specializes in excellent affordable, family style food with friendly staff and a large, centered fireplace for winter. High View Chapel is a special, spiritual place; it is non-denominational, and is perfect for either religious, or non-religious ceremonies. The chapel is a great place to host weddings, memorials, baptisms, special celebrations, renewal of vows, retreats, yoga sessions, art exhibitions and others. the location is remote with stunning views of the valley and mountains beyond and is approximately three km from camp. CONTACT INFO For chapel, restaurant, group bookings, special requests/enquiries contact Stacy 076 020 4298

For general bookings contact the office

014 534 0114 082 707 5538

For more information check out the website

GPS COORDINATES: S 25 50 09 E 027 28 33

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The Grotto

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View across the Mountain Sanctuary Park. Chapel on right

White-bellied Sunbirds can be seen around camp or close to the chapel on floweing creepers or shrubs like Cape Honeysuckle or Golden Shower

Swainsons Spurfowl a typical bird of the rolling grasslands. Often seen early morning or late afternoon calling from a high perch

Violet-backed Starlings often seen in the camp or forested gorges in summer

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A handy map of the park at the camp entrance

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Wild Olive an important species in the area

The Cape Vulture, the flag ship species in the Magaliesberg can often be seen as they spiral above their nest site to the south of the Nooitgedacht towers

The swimming pool

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Red-collared Widow bird found hovering over the open grasslands

The west pools

The Sugar Bush is the most common Protea species in the mountains protea belt. Its large amount of nectar attracts birds,bees and butterflies an other insects

The characteristic call of the Orange-breasted Bush Shrike rings out over the woodlands

Thick-billed Weavers that nest in the dense reed beds of the park

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Common Buzzard Found on typical high perching sites during summer

Stunning landscape in the park with fresh mountain water cascading out of the Magaliesberg via the many streams

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Typical camp scene

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Pending storm over the Magaliesberg

Mountain pools

Sunrise over dew drenched grasslands

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Remnants of the once extensive Wild Syringa Miombo woodlands

The Grotto

Sanctuary view looking North towards the entrance

The slide pool

Beautiful reflections

Spacious camp sites

Dawn breaks over the mountains

Amazing rock formations on the Grotto trail

Blue bush, an important source of food for wildlife and birds

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Red-billed Oxpeckers regularly found on the game in the park

All that one sees of the Eastern Clapper Lark as it claps above the camp and surrounding grassy hills

Mocking Cliff Chat A bird of the rocky areas and often visits habituated areas nearby

Groundscraper Thush commonly found on mown lawn areas in the camp and near the chapel

Easily heard from the camp during the day is the Red chested Cuckoo as it calls from tall trees in the gullies

The Little Bee eater is found in the sanctuary along the wooded streams and grasslands close to the entrance

Keep on the look out for tortoises crossing the road

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Giraffe as they go about their early morning feeding

Black backed Jackal more often heard than seen especially as night falls

Blesbok found in the open grasslands

Blue Wildebeest a common species on the grassy slopes

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Early morning on the Grotto trail

Fast flowing clear mountain streams are a feature of this area

The park is dotted with interesting rock formations

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StasOmbs restaurant interior

The StasOmbs restaurant serves excellent food and is a must to visit

Great views of the camp over to Buffelspoort valley from the verandah of the restaurant.

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It is 8 am on a June morning, with a cold front of icy wind pushing through from the Cape, but the sun is shining and I am drawn into a famous indigenous bush garden by a commotion of Bronze Mannikins arguing for space on a Sickle Bush. Sitting tightly together, individuals moving back and forth in a hustle for the warm sun. Further on there are four large Aloes where Dark-capped Bulbuls have already started their nectar feed and move anxiously between flowers in a bid to warm up too. Fortunately for the birds, the Aloes also love the sun, standing in all their splendour and bursting at the racemes with red or orange. It feels sacred, vulnerable and stirs up quiet emotions not found in our familiar world of digital technology and unpleasant noise. A Striated Heron drops in to the edge of the Tilapia pond, which is also a favourite for the frogs when seasons change, but my attention is drawn to some well-spaced Thick billed Weaver nests above in the reeds, who also have a claim to lay in this little ecosystem. Where are those male weavers who so diligently guard their nests in summer? These perfectly built homes now deserted. I get distracted by a busy group of Common Waxbills, Red-billed Firefinch and Cut-throat Finch pairs who decide to join in on the sunning frenzy. Packed together like best friends and weighing down on branches that seem not to mind. But it doesn’t last as they sense my closing in for a better look. In one motion they are off to the next sunning bush which of course they know so well and has held them many times over. With some regret I decide to go back to the office, to get there, it is a short stroll between hundreds of Aloes. It feels as if the Aloes are speaking to me, and I cannot help but think they are saying something important. It is difficult to ignore these expressive flowers, and you can feel the life in them. Yellow, orange, red, some faint shades of white and pink supported by strong enduring bases of great shades of green. White-bellied and Amethyst Sunbirds fly with urgency between the Aloes, ambitious in their pursuit for nectar on this cold morning. Maybe it is the cold that makes them want as much nectar as quickly as possible. I then start asking myself, why the Aloe flowers now in June? They need sunbirds to be working hard? The two are perfectly aligned with each other, a marriage made in heaven, a great example of mutualism. Moving pollen from one Aloe to the other, they are the key to survival of this great plant. With their long bills ideally adapted for Aloes with long pedicels, they have access to nectar that other birds could only wish for. Weavers and bulbuls, amongst others, may also have some of this nectar feast but only from flowers with short pedicels. The relationship between bill length variations of birds and pedicel length of an Aloe flower plays an important role in lessening the chances of hybrids out in natural habitat.Aloes are especially adapted for sunbirds as the flower is too narrow for bees, forcing them to settle for other plant types which depend on them. Walking back to the office and looking up at the sky hoping to see my favourite bird, the Cape Vulture. Strongly on the wing, soaring higher in search of thermals, I count 11. There

Immature male White-bellied Sunbird. PHOTOGRAPH: MARTIN BRASG

is a large colony that breeds just on the other side of the mountain (Magaliesberg), and every morning after 9 am hundreds of vultures take to the sky. With vulture populations plummeting due to poisoning, habitat loss and reduced predator numbers, we are truly blessed to see them here, and my only wish is that we are able to pass this privilege down to our children, to be able to stand in wonder of a perfect living organism which plays such a vital role in a bushveld ecosystem. Losing track of time and getting caught up in watching these magnificent creatures, my cell phone rings, and I am pulled back into what we call the ‘real world’.

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