Birdlife returns to vlei

Feeding at the Milnerton Lagoon mouth are some lesser flamingos, Egyptian geese, a Hautlaubs gull, Cape wagtail and a blacksmith lapwing.

Several bird species have returned to the area around the Zoarvlei canal after it was cleared of sediment and reeds in January.

The Zoarvlei section of the Table Bay Nature Reserve is between Paarden Eiland Industrial Centre and Rugby and Brooklyn. It is managed by Cape Town Environmental Education Trust (CTEET), the City of Cape Town and the Paarden Eiland City Improvement District.

According to Reward Nzuza, Zoarvlei’s site manager, illegal dumping in the area is an ongoing problem.

Reeds and sediment had been cleared from the canal to improve the water flower and the habitat for aquatic life, he said.

“The project has been a success and has seen positive results as the birdlife slowly started to re-establish in this section of the reserve, recent spottings being: grey heron, cattle egret, Egyptian goose, yellow-billed duck, Cape teal, Cape shoveler, purple swamphen, common moorhen, red-knobbed coot, blacksmith lapwing, water thick-knee, kelp gull and the Hartlaub’s gull,” Mr Nzuza said.

North of Zoarvlei, nestled in the heart of the Milnerton Racecourse, is a 19-hectare remnant of Cape Flats sand fynbos, with 333 plant species, 34 of them threatened.

The Royal Ascot Master Property Owners’ Association manages this section with CTEET and the City.

In addition to the 110 bird species recorded at the Milnerton Racecourse Conservation Area, Cape dwarf chameleons, Cape dune mole rats, mole snakes and grysbok are regularly seen, as well as several butterfly species at this time of year.

Ntombikayise Lolwane, site manager at the Milnerton Racecourse section, said domestic animals continued to be a problem.

“House cats are spotted hunting birds and other wildlife in the reserve. Dogs are not allowed in the northern section of the reserve. We appeal to the public to remember to be mindful of the rules and regulations on nature reserves. Conservation measures are intended to protect wildlife populations from atypical disturbance.

“When the public respects and heeds the signage, they respect the inhabitants of the nature reserve. They are allowing for nature to prosper,” Ms Lolwane said.