5th to 7th March 2022
After all the rains early this year, the wetlands at Nylsvlei were nicely flooded. Sally and I decided to pay a visit.
We stayed at Klein Paradys campsite some 40 kms from the entrance to Nylsvlei.
Interesting campsite with loads of Peacocks and Peahens also rubbish bin thieves at night.
The main wetland hides are entered from the opposite side to the main entrance gate (see map above). We checked in at the main gate, paid and obtained the security number to enter the main wetland area. To get there, you need to drive around to the other side of the reserve and park opposite the entrance gate.
As it happened, we parked and then got chatting to the owner – Brian Frank – of the farm (and wetland area) directly opposite the entrance to Nylsvlei wetland. He just happened to be there and offered us entry to the wetland area right by the parking area. This wetland is part of the Sandfields & Forests Estate – which also offers Birder Friendly accommodation.
As we stood talking to Brian an unusual bird flew at speed close overhead. A large Swallow type looking bird with a strange “U” shaped tail. It was so quick we only got a glimpse of it, not enough time to ID it. We speculated for some time what it could have been and it was only that evening that we had a brain-wave and we thought we knew what it was. Ever hopeful we would see it again the next day.
We decided to enter there first before going into the Nylsvlei Vogelfontein hides and wetland. It was a small area of wetland and a pond to walk around but the birds were brilliant. Little and Dwarf Bitterns flying overhead and landing in the shrubbery around the path. Even a Slaty Egret made an appearance in one of the distant trees before flying over our heads. I was pleased that I had brought our scope for such a viewing.
Then there were the Black-crowned Night-Herons and a youngster flying overhead confusing us by its uniform grey plumage. Squacco Herons were obliging for Photos.
What a treat.
Eventually we entered the Nylsvlei wetland at Vogelfontein.
This is only a very small part of the wetland that you are able to walk around at Nylsvlei. Either side of the paths to the two hides are wetland and ponds almost as far as your eye can see. The two hides are Crake Hide and Dabchick Hide. We spent time in each as well as walking the pathways. Of the two hides we found the Dabchick hide the most productive.
In the area we encountered Allen’s Gallinule; Lesser Moorhen; Goliath, Purple and Black-headed Herons; more Dwarf bitterns; Southern Pochard; White-backed Ducks; Red-billed Teal; Knob-billed Ducks; Little Grebes and Banded Martins – to name a few. Even Fulvous Ducks were seen flying and calling overhead.
Then as we were about to leave our mystery Swallow-like bird appeared, then more appeared and in the end there were hundreds overhead -later we heard there were thousands- Black-winged Pratincoles.
What a wonderful wetland experience. Birds of all sorts were constantly on the move overhead.
One day after midday we ventured into Nylsvlei Nature Reserve itself and drove around to see what we could see. Birds and animals delighted us. We spent a bit of time in the Jacana Hide but were there at the wrong time of the day.
Here are some of the species we encountered.
In all we recorded 103 different bird species. Click to see our bird list:
Hope you have enjoyed the read.
Sally and Paul Bartho
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