Rocherpan Nature Reserve, Western Cape
Rocherpan enthusiasts who head off along the West Coast to visit this nature reserve near Velddrif will possibly mention to you that the bird life is incredible, but what they will not reveal is that it is also a wonderful setting in which to spot whales.
The Rocherpan Nature Reserve is set a mere 25 kilometres north of Velddrif, near Dwarskersbos. Most of the 914 hectare Rocherpan Nature Reserve is part of a seasonal vlei, which dries up between March and June. But what gives it an additional beauty, as well as allure, is that the adjoining section of the Atlantic Ocean is also a marine reserve, stretching 500 metres seawards for the length of the Rocherpan nature reserve. The combination of the two gives rise to a collection of 183 species of birds, including 70 water birds.
The Rocherpan Nature Reserve is the place to spot Cape shovellers; in fact it is one of the most important breeding and moulting sites of the species. But youre also likely to see pelicans, lesser flamingos (in the Red Data book for endangered bird species), as well as the African black oystercatcher, the countrys second rarest coastal bird. And, of course, the Southern Right whale puts in an appearance in the marine reserve from June to September, or sometimes even later. And there are ostriches on the surrounding vlei
To add further impetus to a visit, spring ushers in a mass of wild flowers that turn the reserve into a burst of colour, and one can spot numerous small mammals like the water mongoose and the odd duiker. Two bird hides and a number of picnic sites make heading here for the better part of a day a thoroughly good idea.
For additional info and photographs see our article Rocherpan Nature Reserve - An oasis on the West Coast