Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary in South Africa

June 21, 2007 by  
Filed under Features

Any bird watchers planning to travel to South Africa should definitely make the effort to visit the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary. The sanctuary combines great food with a large habitat, which is simply brimming with birds and animals. It is the perfect place to enjoy a tasty meal while taking in the sights and sounds of nature.

The Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary is named for J Austin Roberts: one of the greatest ornithologists and mammologists to have been born and raised in South Africa. Roberts was born in Pretoria in 1883 and he grew up a short distance away in Potchefstroom. Despite his father’s love for the cloth, Roberts was attracted to the wonders of nature from an early age. He received an early grounding in ornithology from Thomas Ayres before going on to receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Pretoria for his reference books on mammals and birds. Unfortunately, Austin Roberts was killed in an automobile accident in 1948. During his lifetime he probably contributed more to the study of birds and mammals in his home country than any other person before or after him. Hence, it was only natural that when the 11.8 hectare sanctuary was being developed that it should be named after Roberts. Some 37 years after his death in 1985, the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary in Pretoria was opened to the public.

The South African bird sanctuary is fed by two streams which help to create a wetland basin and to feed the nine small perennial dams which attracts dozens of birds. Thus the dams attract a wide array of water bird species. In fact, there are roughly 170 species of bird living in the sanctuary and the average visitor will see as many as 40 different species during the course of one short morning visit. Most visitors enjoy spending time at the hide which is situated near the dam – an excellent place from which to observe birds. There are also patches of woodland and exotic trees which attract other bird species.

The sanctuary was fenced in 1970, to ensure the continued survival of the various birds, and has since become a valued educational and recreational public attraction. Unfortunately all visitors must observe the birds from beyond the perimeter fence which some may find disappointing. This is, however, a safety measure that has been taken to ensure that the birds remain undisturbed in their natural habitat. Visitors can take in a meal at the Blue Crane restaurant – which some birds enjoy visiting of their own accord – before visiting the bird hide or taking a guided walk around the bird sanctuary. There is also a recreational park nearby where children can find amusement for hours. So visit the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary and enjoy a day filled with beautiful birds.

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