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Do you have an hour ? Excellent birding from Johannesburg Airport (O.R. Tambo International)

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Adapted from Chapter 1 (pages 46 - 50) of the Chamberlain Guide to Birding Gauteng.

The East Rand-which includes the towns of Benoni and Brakpan-has a large number of both permanent and temporary natural pans, most of which are unfortunately rather difficult White-backed Duckto access. Urbanisation and habitat modification have reduced the birding richness of most of these pans over the last few decades, but nevertheless a good number of waterbirds may still be seen. In the Benoni area, there are three pans in particular which provide for excellent wetland birding, as well as some Highveld grassland birding along their margins: Korsman Bird Sanctuary (Westdene Pan), Bullfrog Pan and Bonaero Park Pan.

For visiting birders passing through O.R. Tambo International Airport these pans offer the opportunity of some quality birding between flights-even just two hours' birding should provide a good sample of South African wetland birding, while adjacent grassland and suburban habitats harbour nonaquatic species, including several endemics. A winter trip to Bullfrog Pan last year produced just on 70 species in two hours. The other pans will probably produce fewer species, as they lack the same extent of natural grassland.


Korsman Bird Sanctuary and Bullfrog Pan are reasonably safe for birders who want toPied Avocet stop there and bird in a relaxed way, this is due to the fact that Bullfrog Pan is in a very quiet area, and Korsman is in a "gated suburb" where access is controlled. Bonaero Park is in an open accessible area and caution is advised. Best to visit in a group or with a guide.

List of possible species found in the area. (endemics and near endemics in blue)

Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, African Sacred Ibis, Glossy Ibis, African Spoonbill, Greater Flamingo, Lesser Flamingo, White-backed Duck, South African Shelduck, Cape Teal, Hottentot Teal, Cape Shoveler, Southern Pochard, Maccoa Duck, Swainson's Spurfowl, African Purple Swamphen, Spotted Crake, African Snipe, Black-winged Stilt, Grey-headed Gull, White-winged Tern, African Olive-Pigeon, Marsh Owl, African Grass-Owl, Greater Striped Swallow, South African Cliff-Swallow, Brown-throated Martin, Karoo Thrush, Lesser Swamp-Warbler, African Reed-Warbler, Little Rush-Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Levaillant's Cisticola, Black-chested Prinia, Fiscal Flycatcher, Cape Longclaw, Pied Starling, Cape Glossy Starling, Cape White-eye, Long-tailed Widowbird, Southern Red Bishop, Cape Sparrow, Cape Weaver, Orange-breasted Waxbill, Red-headed Finch and Streakyheaded Seedeater.

How much time do you have ?

Even an hour of spare time can be utilized as Bonaero Park Pan is only 9km (10 minutes) from the Airport. Korsman Bird Sanctuaary is 14km and Bullfrog Pan 20km from the airport respectively.

For more information on visiting these pans, contact Indicator Birding for a guided tour, or purchase a copy of the Chamberlain Guide to Birding Gauteng.

Etienne Marais
Indicator Birding
May 2010

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Web Site Updated 21 May 2010 © Indicator Birding

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