Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary (Brooklyn)
Overview of the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary
Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary was named after South Africa's greatest ornithologist-mammologist, J Austin Roberts. Austin Roberts was born in 1883 in Pretoria, and grew up in Potchefstroom. Austin Roberts was mostly self-taught, he was honoured for his many achievements with an honorary doctorate by the University of Pretoria. Austin Roberts died on the 5th of May 1948 in a motor accident.
The 11,8 ha sanctuary site was opened by the then Mayor of Pretoria, Mr WJ Seymore, on 27 October 1956, and officially proclaimed as a nature reserve on 26 February 1958.
The Austin Roberts bird sanctuary is located in the Walkerspruit Open Space System, and a multitude of water birds can be seen. Two streams, the Walker and the Argo, feed water into the wetland basins of which nine are small perennial dams attracting a multitude of water birds.
The Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary was fenced in June 1970, and became a valuable civic amenity with recreational and educational value. The Sasol Bird Hide gives bird lovers the opportunity to experience a great variety of birds, including the crowned crane and the blue crane, South Africa's National Bird.
Bird Watching at Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary
A nice area to explore is the area surrounding the Blue Crane restaurant. Here, visitors have a great view of the dam and adjacent reedbeds. Visitors can obtain bird feed from the Blue Crane restaurant, and use it to feed the birds at the bird feeding area. The feeding area also attracts Blue Cranes and Grey Crowned Cranes, which are a magnificent sight when in flights.
Other birds include the Thick-billed weaver, Southern Red Bishop, African Reed-warbler, Little Rush-warbler, Lesser Swamp-warbler and Black-crowned Night-Herons.
The Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary offers visitors the opportunity to view a wide variety of birdlife from within the bird hide. Guided bird-walks are also provided, but needs to be booked in advance.
Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary Review
We visited the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary on a lazy Sunday afternoon, with the intention of having a picnic on the lawns, and then taking a stroll through the sanctuary. Much to our surprise and disappointment, it seems that you need to make a booking at least 4 weeks in advance, should you wish to walk through the sanctuary.
As a consolation prize however, a viewing deck with a stunning view over the small lake is available, and several water bird species where busy doing their bird-thing in the water, splashing, bathing, and playing around..
The Blue Crane restaurant is situated on the banks of the lake, and although we didn't have lunch there, it seems that the restaurant also provides excellent views of the lake and surrounding area.