As you turn out of the hustle bustle of Brooklyn, in Middel Street, you’ll reach the humble haven that is the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary. It was opened as far back as October of 1956, and named after South Africa’s greatest ornithologist. All you had to do to grow up in a South African household where his most famous book and surname featured was have parents, or grandparents, and maintain a body temperture roughly in the high thirties. Yes, that book. The bird-book. J. Austin Roberts was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria for his many accomplishments and contributions in the fields of mammals and birds. In 1985, the bird sanctuary was officially proclaimed a nature reserve.
Located in the Walker Spruit open space system, where the Walker and the Argo streams feed water into the basins of the wetland. Nine of these basins are perennial dams that attract water species such as the white-breasted cormorant, the common hadeda ibis, and various flocks of Egyptian geese and other duck varieties. Many other varieties of bird call the sanctuary their residence. The national bird, the blue crane, and the majestic crowned crane, can be found around this almost twelve hectare conservation area in the Muckleneuk suburb of town.
The property also plays host to a proper bird hide and exhibition hall from where visitors can spot and view resident and visiting birds like the blacksmith lapwing, the African reed-warbler, little rush-warbler, various heron speicies, the little bittern, the black egret, the southern red bishop, the Cape teal, red-knobbed coot, and the white-bellied sunbird amongst many others. Afterwards, head to the Blue Crane Restaurant situated on the property with spectacular views and atmospheres of its own. Considered to be one of the best restaurants in the 012 for the truest of South African fine dining experiences. The locale has a massive bar and deck with various other facilies to choose from and reserve, not even to mention the delectable menu and weekend buffets.
Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary presents visitors with the option of arranging guided walks and tours around the reserve, and has its opening hours from 06:00 to 18:00 in the summers and 07:00 to 17:00 in wintertime. Entrance is free of charge, and guided tours or walks are R55 per person, but must preferably be booked weeks in advance. They handle groups of up to twelve people. Go and see some winged creatures.
by David C. Steyn