The farm is covered by patches of a few different types of Protea, mainly the Silver Protea and Common Sugarbush. The Transvaal Bottle Brush is also quite common in the area and together with the Aloe Arborescence, they are the home and breeding ground for the much sought after Gurney’s Sugarbird, researched by Dawie de Swardt of the National Museum in Bloemfontein.
Paardeplaats’ Jesus Hill features on the international birding atlas and the Mpumalanga Nature Conservation Map as highly sensitive, because of the sugarbird’s association with these trees. The sugarbirds do not only forage mainly on the nectar of the Protea flowers, but also use the trees as their main nesting sites. Their nests are even lined with Protea seeds.
We have a bird-list of about 200 bird species which have been recorded in the Lydenburg area by Dawie in his years of research on the farm and surrounds.
The area close to the Anglo Boer War forts, because of its remote situation, is a popular breeding site for Denham’s Bustards in early spring.
The garden around the Miners’ Canteen and the bedrooms is home to a host of interesting, different birds – enjoy the early morning symphony. Species such as Barthroathed Apalis, Drakensberg Prinia, Cape White-eye, Cape Robin-chat, Redwinged Starling and Cape Rock Thrushes are resident here. In winter, look out for sunbirds (Malachite, Greater Double-collared and Amethyst) and of course the Gurney’s Sugarbirds visit the aloes on the nearby krantzes, in autumn and winter.
In the near future we will be setting up a “Vulture Restaurant” opposite the roosting site on the cliffs in “Masjienkloof”, with a hide, for research purposes. Watch this spot for developments!