CWAC at Zandvlei Nature Reserve – 20 January 2024.

This is a working relationship with the City of Cape Town and the Cape Bird Club.

Alan Morris started the co-ordinated bird counts in December 1974 and they still continue at Zandvlei.

Zandvlei Upper.

The Main Reserve and the northern Marina canals were not counted today due to non availability of counters and or Nature Reserve staff. The main water body appeared to be at a full level, when we arrived at the estuary mouth it was open. This was unusual as it was between new and full moon. An assumption is that the Catchment Management and Reserve Manager had the mouth opened due to the dark smelly water entering the main waterbody from the Keysers River. We could see a zigzag current of smooth water from the railway canal across the upper main waterbody towards the Scout Base when we arrived there. There was a lot of small fish activity in the shallow water at the edges in the upper areas of the waterbody. Surprising there were no birds feeding on them. In the photo with the canoe one can see the Telkom tower draped in black plastic netting. This has caused a stir with some people in the community who have never seen the tower before. It is for to prevent debris blowing around while maintenance is done on the tower structure. The weather was very hot and humid today, in the mid 30 degrees by 09h30 with no wind, not even a breeze. Before we started there was a Jackal Buzzard on the overhead railway lines near the railway bridge over the confluence of the Westlake and Keysers Rivers.

Zandvlei Lower.

Note that the southern Marina canals were not counted as no water craft or volunteers were available. At the Scout base we saw a Malachite (male) and and Orange breasted Sunbird (female) at the small garden with a bench. The counters at the Caravan Park photographed a (male) Orange breasted Sunbird too. There was a fire up on the mountain above Muizenberg in December 2023 and a large part of their range was burnt so they are down the lower slopes looking for food. We saw a Black Sparrowhawk fly across from the Marina and then across the yacht basin while we were counting there. Botulism conditions are occurring in the yacht basin, the weather has been very hot and humid with very little wind for the past weeks. There has been no rain since the beginning of the new year. There was plenty of insect life flying about today and a good variety of butterflies. There were 6 Grey Herons, 1 Black headed Heron and 4 Sacred Ibis in the tree at the guest house in Axminster Road, which they are using for a roost and nesting site near the estuary mouth. Thank you to the Nature Reserve staff who counted the Caravan Park and Park Island today. It was very hot by the time we finished at 11h45 with no wind. Seldom is there no wind near the estuary mouth in the summer time.

Zandvlei Westlake Wetlands and Rutter Road Pond.

There was very dark smelly (not raw sewage) flowing from the Keysers River with water lettuce at 1 metre per 9 seconds under the railway bridge. The flow was unusual as we presumed the estuary mouth was closed as it is between new and full moon and there has been no rain for 3 months. There was no apparent flow from the Westlake River. The rivers are still flowing near to the mountains. I reported the unusual smelly dark water to the relevant authorities. Gigi got good photos of the Purple Swamphen and Purple Heron in the wetlands when the train going to Fish Hoek passed us.

Thank you to the Zandvlei Nature Reserve staff and the CBC counters for enduring the challenging elements today.


photographs by Gavin Lawson, Ricardo Petersen and Gigi Laidler.

Gavin Lawson.


Below are the count datas for 20 January 2024.

Zandvlei upper count.

Zandvlei lower count.

Zandvlei Westlake Wetlands and Rutter Road Pond.


This is Gigi Laidlers full bird list for the Zandvlei western shore this morning.

Pentad: 3405_1825, Start: 2024-01-20, End: 2024-01-20, Species: 48, Observations: 48
1. Black-headed Heron, 2024-01-20 11:37
2. Sandwich Tern, 2024-01-20 11:07
3. Caspian Tern, 2024-01-20 11:07
4. Black Sparrowhawk, 2024-01-20 10:57
5. Common Tern, 2024-01-20 10:46
6. Rock Dove, 2024-01-20 10:36
7. Spotted Thick-knee, 2024-01-20 10:21
8. Orange-breasted Sunbird, 2024-01-20 10:01
9. Hartlaub’s Gull, 2024-01-20 10:00
10. Malachite Sunbird, 2024-01-20 09:53
11. Barn Swallow, 2024-01-20 09:41
12. Cape Wagtail, 2024-01-20 09:37
13. African Sacred Ibis, 2024-01-20 09:37
14. Little Egret, 2024-01-20 09:37
15. Grey Heron, 2024-01-20 09:29
16. Egyptian Goose, 2024-01-20 09:21
17. Cape Weaver, 2024-01-20 09:19
18. Kelp Gull, 2024-01-20 09:19
19. Pied Kingfisher, 2024-01-20 09:14
20. African Darter, 2024-01-20 09:14
21. Malachite Kingfisher, 2024-01-20 09:09
22. African Swamphen, 2024-01-20 09:03
23. Little Bittern, 2024-01-20 09:02
24. Lesser Swamp Warbler, 2024-01-20 08:57
25. Red-knobbed Coot, 2024-01-20 08:57
26. Common Moorhen, 2024-01-20 08:57
27. Black-crowned Night Heron, 2024-01-20 08:56
28. Purple Heron, 2024-01-20 08:56
29. Reed Cormorant, 2024-01-20 08:53
30. Brown-throated Martin, 2024-01-20 08:52
31. Cape Shoveler, 2024-01-20 08:51
32. Speckled Pigeon, 2024-01-20 08:39
33. Cape Sparrow, 2024-01-20 08:37
34. White-backed Mousebird, 2024-01-20 08:36
35. Karoo Prinia, 2024-01-20 08:36
36. Cape Bulbul, 2024-01-20 08:34
37. White-throated Swallow, 2024-01-20 08:31
38. Pied Crow, 2024-01-20 08:31
39. Yellow-billed Duck, 2024-01-20 08:30
40. Red-winged Starling, 2024-01-20 08:29
41. Cape Teal, 2024-01-20 08:29
42. Cape Spurfowl, 2024-01-20 08:29
43. Southern Fiscal, 2024-01-20 08:20
44. Southern Masked Weaver, 2024-01-20 08:19
45. Jackal Buzzard, 2024-01-20 08:18
46. Red-eyed Dove, 2024-01-20 08:16
47. Laughing Dove, 2024-01-20 08:16
48. Common Starling, 2024-01-20 08:15


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