Brilliant Bird Watching at Nylsvley Nature Reserve

Located in the upper reaches of the Nyl River near Naboomspruit in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, the Nylsvley Nature Reserve is renowned for its abundant and diverse birdlife. More than 400 bird species have been recorded in the reserve, which includes part of South Africa’s largest floodplain (vlei), with over a hundred of these species being waterfowl. During a good rainy season it is not unusual for as many as 80,000 birds to be counted in the Nylsvley Nature Reserve, so it’s no wonder that birding enthusiasts are drawn to this avifaunal paradise.

Of the waterfowl observed in Nylsvley Nature Reserve, 58 species breed in the wetland, believed to be the largest number of any of South Africa’s wetland areas. Moreover, 23 of the waterfowl seen in the reserve are on the Red Data Book listing South Africa’s threatened bird species, with eight of these known to breed there. Some of the species that have only been recorded at Nylsvley Nature Reserve include the Striped Crake and Streaky-breasted Flufftail. This is also the only South African reserve site where the Rufous-bellied Heron are known to breed. The floodplains are home to large numbers of Great-white Egret, Squacco Heron, Black-headed Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron.

While Nylsvley Nature Reserve is considered to be one of South Africa’s prime bird-watching spots, not to be overlooked are the other conservation projects of the reserve. These include providing safe breeding grounds for the endangered Roan Antelope and Tsessebe. The biodiversity of the reserve, which is a RAMSAR site, is the subject of intensive scientific research, by both local and international scientists.

The organization known as “Friends of Nylsvley and Nyl Floodplain” consists of dedicated volunteers who are active in promoting the conservation of the area. In addition to monitoring the visitor’s facilities in the reserve, they have undertaken improvements such as installing birding hides, walkways and toilet facilities for visitors, as well as maintaining watering points for the animals. Marked trails allow visitors to get the most out of exploring this beautiful conservation area. The Friends also run courses, work parties, an annual bird census and a range of other events at the Nylsvley Nature Reserve, all aimed at ensuring that people understand the importance of preserving this key floodplain habitat and its surroundings so that future generations will also have the opportunity of enjoying nature at its best.