Abe Bailey Nature Reserve

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10 years 6 months ago #4371 by mossie
mossie created the topic: Abe Bailey Nature Reserve
Spent Freedom Day morning at the Abe Bailey Nature Reserve just outside Carltonville. The town itself boasts lots of common mynahs and rock pigeons (surprise for a mining town!) <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: --> . The reserve itself, and perhaps the surrounding area, is not exactly every bodies number 1 birding destination, but for someone who is bored with Marievale as your usual half day destination, it is an interesting alternative, for someone with a sense of adventure. Travelling there is a pleasure, the roads are good, and you can get there from JHB within an hour, and a bit. And the birding there is excellent. We got 65 birds in the space of three hours from 7am to 11am, before the wind came up and it become unpleasant to be out there.

Highlights: In the early morning, shortly after sunrise, we were treated to seeing thousands of flocks of seed eaters pouring out of the reed beds to head off to feed in the surrounding area. This was quite a spectacle. The only frustration being, that at that time of the morning, in overcast conditions, you can’t see colour, so it is almost impossible to ID any of the little guys, as they are A: in flight B: in non-breeding plumage, C: in poor light and D: Fast. But for the shear spectacle, it was well worth it. Other highlights, included a nice collection of water birds, at the bridge, crossing the river, the usual suspects, including shelduck, African snipe, purple gallinule, and hottentot teal. Around the office, and new chalets, there was some excellent birding in the tree patches and surrounding grass which produced huge flocks of wattled starlings, little bee eater, waxbills, yellow, white throated, and black throated canary, and all manner of seedeaters in enormous mixed flocks, devouring all that they could find in non-breeding plumage, which were quite a challenge to id.

In there air, a few white rumped, palm and little swifts were still around, including greater striped swallow, and brown throated martin. Behind the offices, there is some very well preserved highveld grassland, with a lot of Northern Black Korhaan, and lots of larks and pipits, of which I didn’t manage to get a single positive ID. (where is a shotgun when you need one <!-- s:twisted: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_twisted.gif" alt=":twisted:" title="Twisted Evil" /><!-- s:twisted: --> ). I will have to return here, early in the morning in summer, with lots of camera and recording equipment to get the better of these LBJ’s.

Lowlights: Where is everyone <!-- s:?: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_question.gif" alt=":?:" title="Question" /><!-- s:?: --> We arrived with the boom open, and not a soul, at the gate, at the Nursery, at the office, in the chalets, and not a single other visitor driving around either. For two people driving around alone, there was a definite eyrie feeling <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? --> . With some money, and some sound management, the place could rock as a birding destination, but the general state is a little shabby, with a mixed hodge podge of dilapidated buildings, and some exotic vegetation that could do with a little taming. The new chalets are a positive start, but a lot more needs to be done, like fitting curtains, and building a better birding infrastructure to make it a drawcard. Perhaps we need to start petitioning the mines to add a few new hides, and better access to the wetland area’s. One area of development that may work, is the training of local birding guides to the area, as I’m sure there are a lot of secrets that can be unearthed through local knowledge and encourage people to make better use of the area.

Would I go back again. Probably yes, in summer, and with a bigger group. Perhaps even make a it a weekend thing, in the chalets.

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10 years 6 months ago #4375 by gordon
gordon replied the topic: Re: Abe Bailey Nature Reserve
Hi Mossie,

There is a general state of decay about all the reserves around the Johannesburg area. There appears to be a general lack of interest in the environment from the powers that be. Maybe we need to find out who is responsible at the very top and try and encourage that person to take more interest?

I am sure if the obvious connection was made between parks and where visitors to the 2010 world cup are likely to go, more of an effort would be made. These parks could easily be made into showcases for visitors to escape to (between games, alcohol and prostitutes...).

Cheers,
Gordon

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10 years 6 months ago #4379 by mossie
mossie replied the topic:
That is a very good point, about 2010, and also, just a point about Gauteng in general, that green spaces are becoming scarcer and scarcer. If you see how busy places like Northern Farms are becoming, you realise that the demand for secure green recreational areas, for birding, mountain biking, hiking etc is reaching a point, where these places may soon become economically viable to run without help from government.

I presume that communication with the powers that be should probably go through organisations, rather than through individuals (unless they are very influential). Although I am not a member, does Birdlife SA participate in this kind of lobbying? Also out of curiosity, and I know that this is a problem for a number of organisations which have conservation ethics, does Birdlife SA have any members from previously disadvantaged communities who can partition on behalf of the club?

Mossie

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10 years 6 months ago #4380 by Stefan
Stefan replied the topic:
Does anyone know if Abe Bailey Nature Reserve still falls within the jurisdiction of Gauteng Nature Conservation? With the transfer of the Carltonville/Khutsong Municipality to North West Province the Nature Reserve might now fall within the borders of North West Province.

Stefan

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10 years 6 months ago #4382 by gordon
gordon replied the topic: Re: Abe Bailey Nature Reserve
Hi Stefan and Mossie,

Those are both good points.

With regards BLSA, I am not sure how much manpower they have. With all the development going on, they are completely swamped with the number of hours they have to put in. What might help is if enough people wrote to the relevant MECs to petition them, though I suspect we would have better luck if it was done in a positive way.

I think an MEC would far rather be on the news being shown supporting something than having to defend his position... The question is how to get through to these guys?

Maybe some of these reserves should be renamed after struggle hero's, this would then encourage those controlling the budgets that these places need looking after...

As for Abe Bailey, I wonder who is now in control/responsible?

Cheers,
Gordon

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10 years 6 months ago #4393 by mossie
mossie replied the topic:
The reserve used to fall under the Gauteng department of Agriculture, conservation and environment, same as with Marievale and Suikerbosrand. I'm not sure if this has changed recently.

I found the following article: [url:2wdf0uiy]http://www.wits.ac.za/apes/Witkowski/Dzerefos%20&%20Witkowski%202001.pdf[/url:2wdf0uiy]
on the use of medicinal plants in the reserve, if anybody is interested. It provides quite a bit of insight into work that has been done in the reserve, and why it is the way it is. Perhaps the reserve is worth more to others for other reasons, than just birding potential.

Mossie

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10 years 6 months ago #4394 by Stefan
Stefan replied the topic:
Hi Mossie,

I've checked maps from the Municipal Demarcation Board and Abe Bailey will now fall within North West Province. However I can find no references to it on the North West Provincial Government website nor on the North West Parks Board site. No mention is made of it on the website of Merafong City (Carltonville) either. However, to complicate things finally the Nature Reserve is still listed on the website of the Gauteng Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Environment!

Stefan

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