Every weekend growing numbers of birding enthusiasts visit the beautiful Magaliesberg.
More than 400 species have been recorded in the area, and they comprise birds from both the bushveld and the highveld as well as those which are particularly associated with montane country. In addition, there are large numbers of waterfowl and waders, which have been drawn to the area by the irrigation projects and the many smaller farm dams.
The slopes of the mountain provide a range of different micro-habitats and it is not surprising that the birdlife there is rich and varied. In general the variety is greater on the lower slopes, where more of the grassland species congregate, although birdwatching higher on the mountain is rewarded by views of the magnificent cliff-dwelling species.
Largest of all birds is, of course, the ostrich, Struthio camelus, which once occurred in great numbers in the area. In summer flocks of migratory storks can be seen in fields at the foot of the range or circling in thermals above.
Many raptors hunt in the Magaliesberg slopes and they are not always easy to identify. One, which is particularly distinctive, however, is the African hawk eagle, Hieraaetus fasciatus, which is black above and white with bold black streaks like ermine on the undersurface.
Forests and Kloofs
No precise boundary delimits the birdlife in the dense woodland from that found on the more openly wooded parts of the mountain.
Birdlife on the cliffs is particularly interesting and has been the subject of considerable conservation endeavour. Probably the most intensively studied of the cliff-nesting species is the Cape Vulture, Gyps coprotheres, whose numbers have declined dangerously in recent decades.
Rivers and Dams
Artificial though the dams of the Magaliesberg may be, they have greatly enhanced the birdlife of the area. There are few places more rewarding for the birdwatcher than their quiet shores or the banks of streams that feed them.
Click here for a list of Birds of the Magaliesberg