Limpopo Birding Routes

Waterberg Nylsvley Birding Hotspots

Nylsvley Floodplain

Nylsvley Floodplain - Marianne McKenzie

This area covers about 16,000 hectares from Modimolle to west of Mokopane, on the Springbok Flats below the Waterberg. The habitat is dominated by the largest seasonal floodplain in South Africa, surrounded by thornveld and a few patches of broadleaved woodland. The Nyl River floods every few years and is then one of the biggest waterbird breeding areas in South Africa. In dry years, the bushveld birding still makes this a worthwhile stop for birders.

Allen’s Gallinule – Derek Engelbrecht

This RAMSAR site is the largest and most intact seasonal floodplain in the country. The area has over 365 bird species recorded, with 104 of these being water birds. The floodplain is inundated every few years and when it floods, several rare and endangered waterbirds breed there. All three of the Bittern species occur and breed there and all of the southern African Herons have been recorded there, including the country’s largest recorded breeding concentrations of Great Egret, Black Heron, Squacco Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron. Striped Crake, Lesser Moorhen and Allen’s Gallinule breed there; Streaky-breasted Flufftail have been recorded there. Pygmy Goose, White-backed and Knob-billed Duck are some of the 15 Duck and Goose species that occur at Nylsvley in the wet years. The wetland is surrounded by typical bushveld savanna, in the dry years the area is still a prime birding destination for bushveld birding. Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler and Tinkling Cisticola can be seen. There is a large concentration of Pearl-spotted Owlet along with 7 other Owl species. There is accommodation and a campsite in the reserve, as well as a variety of birder friendly accommodation around the reserve and in Modimolle and Mookgophong, less than a thirty minute drive away.

Directions: Travel on the R101 between Modimolle and Mookgophong, then turn towards Boekenhout. Continue 8km on this road, the reserve gate is on the left just after the railway line.

| 015 293 3611 | | |


African Pygmy Goose – Samson Mulaudzi
Bokpoort Dam

This small dam, just north of Mookgophong, is covered with water-lilies and provides a perfect habitat for Pygmy Goose which has been recorded here several times. There are two bridges and some  reed beds that host a number of Swallow, Swift and Martin species; other birds to be seen include White-backed Duck, African Fish Eagle, Purple Heron, African Swamphen, Giant Kingfisher, Great Crested Grebe and Zitting Cisticola. 

Directions: From Mookgophong take the R520 north, turn left at the northern-most traffic light in town. Travel 11km then turn left at the T-junction; after less than 1km turn right on the Marken road, then see the dam on the right, just before the road crosses the Sterk River.

Shelley’s Francolin – Derek Engelbrecht
Doorndraai Dam Nature Reserve

This large dam is in the foothills of the Waterberg between Mookgophong and Mokopane. There is a variety of habitats in the reserve with wooded hills, savanna bushveld, open plains, broadleaved woodland, the open water of the dam itself and its well-vegetated banks. Martial Eagle, African Hawk Eagle and African Fish Eagle all breed in the reserve. This is one of the few places in the country where Garganey has been recorded and Osprey is regularly seen in summer. Coqui and Shelley’s Francolin are also often seen and heard; Freckled Nightjar and Mocking Chat are found in the hills. More than twelve species of shrike occur there as well as Yellow-throated Petronia and Orange-breasted Waxbill. The reserve is home to various game species and walking is allowed; there is also a campsite.

Directions: Travel on the Sterk Rivier road off the R101 between Mookgophong and Mokopane; after 17km turn left onto a dirt road and travel a further 5km to the reserve.

 | 015 293 3611 | | |

Barred Wren-Warbler – Derek Engelbrecht

This farm is 40km from Nylsvley on the banks of Nyl River near Mokopane. A large dam provides permanent water along the Nyl floodplain and there are reeded riverbank and marshland habitats. Even in a dry season, the dam is home to Red-billed Teal, Yellow-billed, Knob-billed, White-faced and Maccoa Duck; Spur-winged Goose, Spoonbill, Sacred Ibis, African Fish Eagle; and a host of Sandpipers; Plovers, Coots, Herons, Warblers and Cisticolas along the floodplain. The thornveld woodland around the dam is good for Chestnut-vented Tit Babbler, Barred Wren-Warbler and Crimson-breasted Shrike. Please phone in advance to organise a visit to this amazing dam.

 | 015 491 9400 | 082 920 1741 |