BeKZN Walks…Grass Roots in Cato Ridge

8 July 2023

Malachite Kingfisher – Ronnie Herr

On Saturday the 8th of July a group of 14 eager birders met at Grass Routes Farm to spend a few hours birding around the three ponds on the farm. Grass Routes Farm is an instant lawn farm situated about 3km outside Cato Ridge, roughly 35 minutes from the Marianhill toll plaza.

Grass Routes Farm – Lorraine Retief
Wetland habitat – Lorraine Retief

We could not have chosen a better day for birding, it was a bright morning with a blue sky and no wind, a perfect morning for bird photography. On arrival on the farm, we were greeted by an elegant pair of Grey Crowned Cranes and a host of Black-winged Lapwings. After a quick meet and greet we made our along the road between the first two ponds and very shortly the bird atlasing count was up to 30 species with all the water birds on the two ponds.

Road between the ponds – Lorraine Retief

Once all the easy to identifiable birds were recorded, the search for “specials” began and we were rewarded with African Swamphen and African Snipe.

African Swamphen – Ronnie Herr
African Snipe – Ronnie Herr

The bird count continued to grow as more and more birds were seen and identified. Lesser Swamp Warblerand Little Rush Warblers were heard, and the birds only gave us fleeting visuals amongst the reeds.

Common Moorhen – Ronnie Herr
Black-headed Heron – Ronnie Herr
Purple Heron – Ronnie Herr
Grey Heron – Ronnie Herr

The walk continued down to the third pond and along the way we got to hear the resident, Red-throated Wryneck but unfortunately, we could not get any visuals of them. The third pond did not produce any additional birds to our count.

Photo 10 African Pipit – Ronnie Herr

We then proceeded back to our meeting spot and along the way back the Southern Bald Ibis made an appearance, which was a welcome sight for several the birders.

Photo 11 Southern Bald Ibis – Ronnie Herr

At our meeting spot we sat down to well deserved refreshments and it turned out that one of the participant’s, Robyn Wainwright recorded 4 lifers on the walk.

Photo 12 Refreshments – Lorraine Retief

Our total tally for the morning was 71 species.

Grass Routes is well worth a visit, I am sure in summer the ponds will produce a lot more. The owner of the farm, Clive, is happy for birders to visit the ponds, but please call him first on 082 458 8856 to let him know you want to visit and please stick to the roads, do not drive on the grass.

 Written by Ronnie Herr

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