conference venue Midrand gauteng

You are Here: Gauteng Conference Centre > Gauteng Information > Pretoria > Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary

Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary, Pretoria

austin roberts bird sanctuary pretoriaThe Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary is a wonderful place to see some of the more common birds close up. The sanctuary lies in Muckleneuk and is a regular Sunday afternoon picnic spot for families. The area around the Blue Crane restaurant, which lies virtually on the dam and adjacent reed beds, attracts blue crane, grey crowned crane, rock doves, speckled pigeons and the odd Egyptian goose, that all feed regularly here.

The reserve was named after ornithologist-mammal gist, J Austin Roberts, born in Pretoria in 1883. Roberts, son of a church minister, was born in Pretoria and grew up in Potchefstroom, South Africa. He gained much of his early knowledge of zoology from Thomas Ayres (1828–1913), one of South Africa's first amateur ornithologists. Roberts was employed by the Transvaal Museum from 1910 to 1946. From this base he studied the birds and mammals of South Africa. To further research, he established a collection of ca. 30,000 bird and 13,000 mammal specimens at the museum. He was author of several manuscripts and articles in scientific publications. In 1935 the University of Pretoria awarded him an honorary doctorate degree. Austin Roberts died on May 5th, 1948 in a motor car accident in the Transkei region.He was to produce a number of standard South African reference books on both birds and mammals, and was tragically killed in a motor accident in 1948.

The 11.8 hectare sanctuary lies within the Walkerspruit Open Space System in which two streams feed water into wetland basins that attract a large number of water bird species. There is a bird hide and guided walks as well as an exhibition hall.

The first area that visitors should investigate, is the area around the Blue Crane restaurant and the dam. Good views of the dam and adjacent reedbeds can be obtained from anywhere along the perimeter fence and from the top deck of the restaurant. A bird feeding area (food available from the restaurant) attracts Blue Crane and Grey Crowned Crane which were originally kept in the area by having their wings clipped regularly. However, they now move around in the recreational park and sometimes fly around over the sanctuary. Doves and Pigeons are also common, Rock Dove, Speckled Pigeon, Laughing Dove, Red-eyed Dove and Cape Turtle-Dove being abundant. Egyptian Goose also join the feeding frenzy and catfish gratefully gobble up morsels fed to them. Also easily spotted here are Reed Cormorant, Common Moorhen, Little Grebe, Red-knobbed Coot, Cattle Egret, African Sacred Ibis, Hadeda Ibis, Pied Kingfisher and sometimes something more exciting like a Little Bittern or Green-backed Heron.

The Sasol Hadeda Hide offers excellent views of the waterbirds. In summer, you will also be treated to the delightful sight of colonies of Southern Masked-Weaver and Thick-billed Weaver and Southern Red Bishop breeding in front of the hide. Also keep an eye open for the less conspicuous warblers – African Reed-Warbler, Little Rush-Warbler and Lesser Swamp-Warbler are the commonest species, and Marsh Warbler and Willow Warbler are also to be seen in summer. Black-crowned Night-Heron might be seen roosting in the surrounding trees.

Birders with a little more time on their hands might wish to walk the two kilometres or so along the perimeter fence. Apart from sightings of Grey Duiker and Leopard Tortoise, you should find a plethora of the commoner garden birds. Look for Streaky-headed Seedeater, Black-throated Canary, Bronze Mannikin, Common Waxbill, Brown-hooded Kingfisher, African Hoopoe, Green Wood-Hoopoe, Cape Robin-Chat, Olive Thrush, Red-faced Mousebird, Speckled Mousebird, Common Fiscal, Cape White-eye, Burchell's Coucal, Black-collared Barbet and Crested Barbet, and a variety of swifts and swallows in the skies.



Gauteng Conference Centre
122 Zinnia Road, Kyalami
Phone: 082 417 0389