Elandsvlei

Birdlife or Wildlife Sanctuaries / Lakes / Dams in or near Benoni, East Rand in Gauteng, South Africa.

Gauteng Tourist AttractionsElandsvlei

Where? Elandsvlei, Bapsfontein, north of Benoni, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Overnight? Stay in Benoni, in Gauteng

Elandsvlei, also known as Dickin's Pan, lies close to Bapsfontein - one of several interesting highveld pans in the area just north of Benoni.

Elandsvlei lies in the popular birding area that stretches from the city's southern and eastern suburbs (Moreleta Park, Elarduspark, Wapadrand and Mamelodi) to Bapsfontein.

The area is rolling grasslands, used mostly for farming (farmers are fairly generous at accommodating birders, however), accompanied by marsh-ridden valleys such as Rietvlei and Grootvlei.

Interestingly many of the 'suburbs' out this way are named for the highveld pans of the area - Elandsfontein, Tweefontein, Sesfontein and Bronkhorstspruit. It is one of few spaces that can still boast fairly pristine grassland.

One of the best known of these pans is Elandsvlei (formerly known as Dickin's Pan). Birders head out here in the knowledge that any one visit will yield at least 100 species. Waders and other water birds dominate the two pans, surrounded by farm and grassland, reed beds and, when water gets low, mudflats.

Even the gravel road leading to the pan is good for spotting birds - capped wheatear, Namaqua dove, red-capped lark and chestnut-backed sparrowlark to name a few.

What makes Elandsvlei particularly inviting is its rapid transformation from one week to the next it can go from completely dry to almost full, depending on the rainfall. Each visit sees different species on the pans.

Specials include: marsh owl and African grass-owl (they breed in the area) and a series of raptors like the African fish eagle and black-shouldered kite.

There is a bird hide, but the road that ventures past the hide and around the pans is well worth driving as well. This takes one onto other roads and fields in the area where bird life is also plentiful.

Birdlife South Africa advise that you contact the bird clubs Wits and Birdlife Northern Gauteng - who arrange regular tours to Elandsvlei, as the pans are on private land and permission is necessary to visit.

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