Birds of the Magaliesberg 2023

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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