Marievale Bird Sanctuary 14 KM
• B@Home is 14kms from the Marievale bird sanctuary, explaining the
wide variety of bird species visiting the garden
• Marievale Bird Sanctuary is situated in the southern half of the
Blesbokspruit RAMSAR site, an area that is also a designated
Important Bird Area (IBA SA021) in South Africa.
• The Blesbokspruit is a major perennial river in Gauteng which is
flanked by extensive floodplains on either side. The sanctuary is
about 10 km2 in size and comprises numerous, large, shallow water
bodies dominated by tall, sometimes dense stands of emergent
vegetation consisting mainly of Phragmites, Typha and Juncus reeds.
Small patches of grassland are found on the eastern margin of the
sanctuary. It is controlled and managed by the Gauteng Department of
Agriculture, Conservation and Environment.
• Ecology The floodplains and flow of the river have been seriously
affected by the building of embankments, roads, railways, pipe lines
and power lines across the low-lying areas of the Blesbokspruit,
mainly due to the advent of gold-mining in the 1940s.
impeded the natural flow and created large, open, shallow stretches
of water. Nowadays, excess water is pumped into the system from
nearby mines, sewage treatment plants and industries, and together
with the impeded drainage, has created a vast system of 'dams',
vastly different to the palustrine wetland it once was.
Nevertheless, this has enabled water birds, and in particular,
waterfowl, to fully exploit the area as a prime breeding and feeding
• In recent years, problems with reed growth and encroachment have
arisen at the sanctuary, reducing the amount of open-water and
shoreline habitat for many ducks and wading birds - overall numbers
of water birds were significantly lower during this period.
alleviate this problem, Stan Madden and the Friends of Marievale (WESSA)
initiated a large-scale reed-spraying programme in the summer of
1998/99. Results showed that areas, once choked with dense stands of
reeds, opened up, creating large open-areas of shallow water and
exposing greater shoreline.
Drainage improved and water bird numbers
subsequently increased with many ducks, moorhen, egrets and waders
returning to utilise these new areas.
• Coordinated Water bird Counts (CWAC): Marievale was first
counted in January 1993. Counts have since been conducted on a
regular, six monthly bases by teams of observers made up from
members of the Wits Bird Club, East Rand Bird Club and Springs/Nigel
branch of the Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa.
• Water bird highlights: CWAC data shows that the sanctuary supports
up to 65 different water bird species and 3500 individuals,
particularly during summer when there is an influx of migrants.
It is one of the few places in Gauteng to see Goliath Heron, Great
White Heron, Black Egret, Fulvous Duck and South African Shelduck.
When conditions are good it supports large numbers of Reed
Cormorant, Yellow billed Duck, African Spoonbill and Ethiopian
Marievale also provides good habitat for many summer vagrants
including European Marsh Harrier, Slaty Egret, Baird's Sandpiper,
Pectoral Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper and Yellow Wagtail.
area is also a good locality for birds such as African Rail, BlackCrane, Purple Gallinule and Moorhen are all commonly seen at
the sanctuary, with Redchested Flufftail being recorded less