Both these sites are in close proximity to each other on the outskirts of Empangeni and offer some rather unique birding.
Dekkers dam consists of open water with dense reedbeds and a few areas of shallow flooded grassland. Grass for Africa is a commercial grass farm that has a reputation for producing some pretty unusual bird species.
Grass For Africa
The best way to bird is on foot. Large numbers of Grassveld Pipits are always around (both pale and dark forms), Redshouldered Widows, Kittlitz’s Plover, Yellow Throated Longclaw, Crowned, Wattled and Blacksmith Plovers are all common here.
In summer Redwinged (Collared) Pratincoles are normally around. This is also one of the better areas to find Orange-Throated Longclaw, which is generally not very common along the coastal plain. Some of the more unusual records from this spot include Caspian Plover, Bald Ibis and Pied Mannikin.
From the bridge on the eastern edge of the pan is the best area to scan the open waters, look out for Pygmy Goose, Purple Gallinule, Moorhen, Black Egrett, as well as the whole range of aquatic Kingfishers. The reedebds are also home to African Sedge and Cape Reed Warblers, also keep an eye out here for Blackbacked Cisticola. The damp grassland on the left hand side of the bridge is a popular haunt for Painted Snipe.
The dam can also be viewed from the western side. The thornveld surrounding the dam also offers some good birding.
Head out of Empangeni on the R34 towards Nkwaleni / Melmoth. Just outside Empangeni is the Turnoff to TICOR, zero your trip meter here.
At about 2.6 km’s take a small turnoff to your right, cross the railway line and follow thus road to get to the Grass For Africa farm.
To access Dekker’s Dam – once back on the R34 continue west for another 1.9km’s (5.2 km from Ticor) and take another small right hand turn, cross the railway and follow this road for about 500m till you see a large wetland on your left. The Western part of Dekkers Dam can be accessed another 700m further along the R34, take the Heatonville turnoff and stop after about 200m at the first small dam you find on your right.
Permission is required before visiting the grass for Africa farm.