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LOCAL TIME: 10:31 pm | Monday, 22 July
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Birding at Die Vlei, Rocherpan Nature Reserve, West Coast

Die Vlei, in the Rocherpan Nature Reserve Rocherpan Nature Reserve consists of a series of seasonal wetlands which is usually dry between March and June. As the adjacent section of the Atlantic Ocean has been declared a marine reserve, the combination of marine, wetland and bush habitats provides ample feeding and breeding conditions for a wide variety of birds. There are 238 bird species of which 85 are waterbirds, including an abundance of migrant waders. Black harrier is the mega tick and specials are Cape shoveler, black-crowned night heron, African swamp hen and moorhen. White pelicans and lesser flamingos are resident from July to December.

Die Vlei is the last of the lagoons comprising the Rocher Pan Nature Reserve, and is the northernmost location to see waterfowl such as black oyster catcher, black crake and the shy redchested flufftail. Ducks, teals, shovellers and geese compete with the ubiquitous coots on the water, while flamingos frequent the shoreline. For best birding, take the ring road and stop off at either two of the observation points.

There is more to Rocherpan than birding so if you feel energetic, the coastal hiking trail of seven kilometers is great for a swim and picnic on the beach, or you can hike inland for eight kilometers. There is also a mountain bike trail along the jeep tracks.

Well equipped eco cabins have been built at the reserve, and are proving so popular with birders and those looking for a great place to relax on the West Coast, that Cape Nature is building more. Phone 021 483 0190, email or website for bookings.

Getting there: take the N7 going north towards Piketburg. Just before Piketburg take the R399 turnoff. Continue along this road into the town of Velddrif. The R399 then becomes Voortrekker Road. Continue along Voortrekker Road until it becomes Main Road going along the coast. Continue along Main Road for 15km until you get to Rocherpan Nature Reserve.

More info on the town of Velddrif More info on The West Coast area