This reserve is the property of Eskom, run and managed by them, and is the site of South Africa’s only nuclear power station.
Proclaimed in 1991 as a reserve to conserve the local flora and fauna, the habitat and vegetation is mostly coastal strandveld and dunes with some Milkwood trees and a few alien Acacia species (Rooikrans and Port Jackson) which are being eradicated.
The checklist numbers 170+ species and many of the West Coast specials are to be found.
Common are Karoo Scrub-robin, Cape Robin-chat, Rufous-vented Titbabbler, Bokmakerie, Cape, Yellow, White-throated and Brimstone Canary, Karoo Prinia, Grey-backed Cisticola, Cape Wagtail, Cape Bunting, Cape Spurfowl and Cape Bulbul.
All three species of mousebird, Speckled, White-backed and Red-faced, are resident.
Look out for Cape Penduline Tit, Bar-throated Apalis and Southern Double-collared and Malachite Sunbird in the fynbos at the car park below the visitor’s centre.
Summer can see large flocks of Pied and Wattled Starling coming in, along with Yellow-billed Kite, Common (Steppe) Buzzard and African Reed (African Marsh) Warbler.
Four species of migrant swallows are also present in summer, viz. Barn, White-throated, Greater Striped and Pearl-breasted.
Cape and Southern Masked Weavers, plus Red and Yellow Bishop all breed in the reserve.
Cape Grassbird with its delightful, musical warbling will often first be heard before then being seen atop of a bush singing.
The plains area around the Conservation Centre buildings hold Spotted Thick-knee (Dikkop), Capped Wheatear, Crowned Lapwing (Plover) and Red-capped Lark. African Pipit and Plain-backed Pipit (less common) also occur here. Careful observation is required to separate the two.
Raptors are represented by Black-shouldered Kite, Rock Kestrel and occasionally African Fish Eagle, Jackal Buzzard and Black Harrier. Look out for the almost resident Lanner Falcon and also Peregrine Falcon that roost and hunt from the towers of the meteorological station. A nesting box used by a pair of Peregrine Falcons is situated on one of the towers.
Springbok, Burchell’s Zebra, Eland and Gemsbok can often be seen grazing nearby, particularly on the plains.
There are two hiking trails, the Dikkop and Grysbok trails, along with mountain bike trails which are very popular.
The Grysbok trail is about 5.5km long with a shorter 2.5km option and takes one to the coast through seasonally inundated wetlands, which when flooded hold several species of waterbirds.
The Dikkop trail is considerably longer 9.5km, 19km and 22km and only the truly fit and energetic should attempt this, unless you have a mountain bike. But, this does take one through interesting strandveld and along cliffs overlooking the beach and sea. Coastal species seen here are Cape and White-breasted Cormorant, Hartlaub’s and Kelp Gull, with African Black Oystercatcher (a regional endemic) on the beach. Keep an eye out to sea for Cape Gannets.
Two ponds with a bird hide are on this trail with some attendant waterbirds.
Recently a Southern Pale Chanting Goshawk was seen on a Cape Bird Club outing, very rare here and possibly the most south western record of this species, along with the remains of a Cape Leopard kill, a young springbok hanging in a tree.
The reserve is Open 7 days a week, from sunrise to sunset.
Drive in and park at the Visitors Centre. (Visitor Centre is open Monday to Friday, but the reserve is open 7 days a week, 8am – 5pm)
Remember to bring your ID Book or other form of ID for registration at the entrance.
No entrance fees. For more information: +27 (0)21 550 4667 (office hours)
Distance from Cape Town: 30km. Turn off for the main entrance from the R27 West Coast road.