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Birding in Chrissiesmeer

The Chrissiesmeer area contains extensive wetlands, peat lands and shallow pans and is one of Mpumalanga’s best birding destinations to see waterbirds and wader species.

The biome is Highland wetlands and grasslands, where you can see all three species of South African Crane, Red-winged Francolin, Hottentot Teal, Chestnut-banded Plover, Cape Shoveler and Greater and Lesser Flamingo – the latter often in colourful profusion both on the pans and in flight. Many species seen here are endangered in South Africa – some critically so, such as the Wattle Crane.

The value of Chrissiesmeer as a bird habitat is not so much the variety of species, but the rarity of many of them. It is also due the uniqueness of Lake Chrissie and South Africa’s Lake District.

Birding is done from the roadside on a circular 60km route, is a favourite pastime among residents and extolled as a fulfilling activity and a good reason to come to Chrissiesmeer in the first place – though it’s best if you bring your 4×4 or alternatively a good pair of boots and or wellies.

The area is very peaceful and rural, and the little town of Chrissiesmeer is charming and welcoming with arts and crafts, coffee shops and pretty guest-houses. This quiet environment is perfect for bird-watching, and the local conservation ethic means you can ask just about anyone there about the birding and be given good info, birding route maps, or even pointed to a local guide.

The Mpumalanga ‘Lake District’ experiences summer rainfall, and this is when the shallow lakes, or ‘pans’, fill with water and come to life. The best months for (water) birding is therefore from September (when the wader species arrive en-masse) to March.

More on the quaint town of Chrissiesmeer More on the Grass and Wetlands area

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